How to make cocktails at home
The best-known cocktails tend to have just three liquid ingredients so making cocktails at home is much easier than cooking and can be quicker than making a cup of tea or coffee. Simply measure each ingredient according to the recipe and pour it into a shaker or stirring glass, then mix with ice and strain the liquid to leave the ice behind as you pour your cocktail into a glass. It's that easy.
Cocktails Made Easy is specifically for those of you that want to make cocktails at home.
If you have a sink with hot and cold water, a fridge-freezer, knife and cutting board then you have all you need to set up a home bar. Indeed, you're better set up than many professional bartenders who knockout 100s of cocktails a day at events without running water.
For Cocktails Made Easy we assume you already have easily available Starter ingredients, around half of which we expect you'll already have in your kitchen, plus one bottle of spirit: vodka, gin, rum, tequila etc.
You'll also need plenty of ice cubes and some Basic tools & equipment.
To make a good cocktail you need a good recipe. Unlike cooking, the recipe must be followed exactly to achieve the right balance between each ingredient, so carefully measuring each ingredient into your shaker or stirring glass is critical to the finished drink and we have some tips on How to measure ingredients.
Recipes on this website are available in ml, cl, oz and shots. Select the scale which you are most familiar with and comfortable using.
Cocktails comprise of a mixture of ingredients and these ingredients are usually mixed – shaken or stirred with ice. We have tips on How to stir and How to shake.
Ice is the most used and most important cocktail ingredient and the size and surface wetness of your ice will dramatically affect how dilute your cocktails are and so their taste.
Ice taken straight from a domestic freezer is dry, almost sticky to the touch while the ice typically found in a bar has a wet surface. The dry-surfaced ice taken straight from a freezer will contribute a lot less dilution to a cocktail and many cocktails benefit from being tamed by more dilution. Hence, like ice-cream, consider taking ice trays out of the freezer 5 minutes before you want to use your ice. Even then, an additional splash of chilled water may open-up your cocktail so perhaps keep a bottle of water in the fridge or better still, a filter jug of water.
After you have shaken or stirred to mix your cocktail you should strain it into your glass to leave the mixing ice behind in the shaker or stirring glass. If the cocktail recipe says "strain into ice-filled glass" then fill your glass with fresh ice. Never use the mixing ice in the glass. Always use fresh ice in the glass or your cocktail will quickly become watery. Contrary to what you might think, it's also better to fill the glass with as much ice as possible rather than just a few cubes. More ice equals a colder drink, so the ice is slower to melt.
So, you've made a cocktail and now need to clean or at least rinse your tools so they don't become sticky and are ready for the next cocktail. If you've used cream, milk or egg then I'd suggest you rinse under hot water, otherwise rinsing under cold water between each cocktail is fine and has the advantage of keeping everything cold. Simply leave tools to drain before using to make another cocktail. You only need to thoroughly clean at the end, before storing tools away.