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27 Easy Ways to Make Better Tasting Cocktails

Posted by Paykoc Imports ,8th Aug 2016
27 Easy Ways to Make Better Tasting Cocktails

Mixing a great cocktail isn’t rocket science, but sometimes it almost seems like it is. If you spend any time reading cocktail recipes online or in print you’ll likely come away with the impression that mixing a great cocktail requires a degree in chemistry, or perhaps even alchemy. Well, we hear your pain and in this post we’re going to help you see that preparing a cocktail isn’t so much a daunting challenge, but an enjoyable process that you may actually learn a thing or two from. We’ve put together 25 of our own tips for making better tasting cocktails at home, and the creators of well-known cocktail blogs Booze Nerds, The Liquid Muse, Gastronomista and A Dash of Bitters have kindly contributed a few pearls of wisdom too. Enjoy

The Secret to Better Tasting Cocktails

Sometimes it seems like the drink you make at home just doesn’t measure up to the same drink you’d get in a bar or club. But why is that? You’ve watched the bartender, you’ve researched the proper mix, heck, you even use the same Moscow Mule mugs! So why is it that the club drink tastes better? To be honest, some of it is simply the psychological advantage of the bar being, well, the bar. But that’s not the whole story.

Good bartenders know plenty of little tricks that give them a competitive advantage and allow them to churn out high quality cocktails by the score. Here we’ll reveal some of them, as well as some of our own tips that may or may not find favor in the club. So here goes…

1) Start with the Classics

Start By Making the Classic Cocktails First

If, in your attempts at mixological mastery, you’re bypassing the dry martini and heading straight for the Empellón Cocina’ fat-washed Mezcal you’re going about things the wrong way. Start your soon to be legendary career as a bartender by nailing the classics first. Once your feet are firmly anchored in tradition you can experiment to your heart’s content.

2) No More Discount Ice

Stop Using Discount Ice - It's Ruining Your Cocktails

The ice you put in your cocktail matters. When it melts it can make up half the volume of the drink. If it’s made from tap water that’s full of chlorine and who knows what else, it will affect the taste of your drink. Ditch the tap water ice and make your ice from spring water. Also, make sure to use big cubes. The large surface area will maximize the cubes cooling power which will also affect the way you experience the final product.

3) Chill the glass

Chill Your Cocktail Glasses When Appropriate

Or the copper Moscow Mule mug for that matter. If you’ve gone to the trouble to make nice big spring water ice cubes and then just pull a glass or mug out of the hot cupboard what’s the point? Make sure to put a generous supply of glasses and mugs in the fridge before the party and you’ll get to enjoy the benefits of those deluxe ice cubes. And for the record the reverse also holds true: don’t put a warm drink in a chilled glass or mug.

4) Use the Right Mug

Speaking of Moscow Mules; when you’re mixing up some of these delicious American classics make sure you use proper copper mugs. Mixing a mule in a standard glass or ceramic cup would be like drinking fine wine from a tumbler. It just will not produce the same clean, cool, refreshing taste you’ll get from the copper mug. This holds true for other types of cocktails too – always use the correct drinkware!

5) Make Your Own Fruit Juices

Use Freshly Prepared Fruit Juice in Your Cocktails

Forget the pre-squeezed, pre-packaged sugar-laden juices. Fresh juice made from fresh fruit will have it all over whatever you’re going to get from a box or a bottle. Sure it’s more work, but the goal after all is a great tasting drink and sometimes you have to provide a little elbow grease to get the desired result.

6) Understand that Cocktails can be Grouped into “Families”

Similar Cocktails Can Be Grouped Together

This tip comes courtesy of Michael Dietsch who runs the acclaimed cocktail blog over at Adashofbitters.com

When I first started mixing cocktails at home, I was reading a book by the cocktail writer Gary Regan. He mentioned that many — if not most — classic cocktails can be grouped into families. So, for example, the martini and manhattan both belong to a family of vermouth-inflected cocktails. The sidecar, margarita, and daiquiri are all sours: a base spirit, a sweetener, and citrus juice. Once I understood how these cocktails are related, I understood how the ingredients worked together, and it was easier to tailor a drink to a guest’s palate. It also became easy to tinker around with ingredients and create riffs on the classics and even entirely new drinks.

7) Slice As You Go

Slice Fruit As You Go When Making Cocktails

(Image Courtesy Of: FreeImages.com/Paul Fris)

Fruit starts to lose flavor the minute it comes into contact with the air so don’t slice up a bunch of fruit for your tropical cocktails and leave it lying around until it’s time to use it. Slice as you go and you’ll be able to taste the difference.

8) Lemon or Lime Garnish?

Be Mindful of When to Opt for Lemon and When Lime is the Better Choice

While we’re on the topic of fruit it’s worth mentioning that as a general rule lemons and limes are not interchangeable if you’re looking for the perfect taste experience. Typically you’ll want to use lemons with darker liquors and lime with light color or white liquors. Most people won’t notice but discerning cocktail lovers will.

9) Ditch the Old Vermouth

Don't Use Old Vermouth to Make Your Cocktails

Natalie Bovis, the creator of Theliquidmuse.com kindly shared this tip with us.

Whenever I teach a cocktail class, I make a point of addressing vermouth in my general bar tips. Many people leave it out of their Martinis because they think they don’t like it. However, most of those folks have only tasted rancid vermouth that came out of an opened bottle that has been sitting on a shelf for months or even years. Once I explain that vermouth is, indeed, aromatized wine and, therefore, needs to be refrigerated once opened and tossed out after about 3 weeks, they totally get it, and are interested to try the classic recipes which include it. Martinis and Manhattans are popular drinks and relatively easy to make at home. Why not make the best possible versions of them?

10) Ditto the Cream Liqueurs

(Image Courtesy Of: FreeImages.com/Thomas D Mørkeberg)

Any liqueur that contains eggs, cream or other dairy has a shelf life of about 18 months. If you’re still serving that Bailey’s Irish Cream you bought at Christmas two years ago you’re going to have a lot of unhappy party guests. Even if refrigerated, cream liqueurs will go bad in a year and a half or so. So buy some new stock and get mixing.

11) Stop Guesstimating

Everything flows nicely and looks cool when you pour straight from the bottle without measuring, but it will in all likelihood mess up the taste of your drinks. Sure the bartender at your favorite club does it all the time, but he or she probably makes several hundred drinks on a busy night and knows exactly how long to hold the pour to get consistent results. You should get a jigger and measure carefully. Your guests will thank you for it.

12) Upgrade Your Stock

Use Higher Quality Spirits in Your Cocktails

It’s tempting to think that the inexpensive liquor will produce the same quality drink as the more expensive stuff, but 99% of the time it’s not the case. If you are really serious about upgrading the quality of your cocktails you need to upgrade what they’re made of. You don’t always need to reach for the top shelf but you should avoid the bottom shelf altogether.

13) Ditch the Club Soda

Ditch the Generic Branded Club Sodas; They're Preventing Your From Preparing Great Tasting Cocktails!

That’s right. That old reliable mixer club soda actually contains a slew of ingredients added to enhance the flavor like potassium sulfate which can react with the liquor and throw off the taste - though admittedly it can be hard to tell sometimes. Instead of club soda use seltzer. Seltzer is just carbonated water. Nothing else.

14) Use Quality Sodas

Use Better Quality Sodas When Preparing Your Cocktails

Although you’re ditching the club soda there are other types of soda you’ll still need to make any of a number of drinks. If you use cheap generic brands you might technically fulfill the recipe requirements but the taste of your drink will suffer. There is a difference, so get in the habit of defaulting to the high quality soda brands.

15) Mix it the Right Way

If it needs to be shaken, shake it. If it needs to be stirred, stir it. If it needs to be left alone, by gracious leave it alone. Not veering off the tracks when it comes to mixing correctly will help the flavor train stay on schedule. This is one area where improvising can cost you.

16) Don’t Skip the Garnish

Don't Forget the Garnish!

A lot of folks will simply skip the garnish when they’re mixing drinks at home, thinking that it’s really just a presentation device that isn’t necessary. But they’re wrong. Even the humble olive will infuse a martini with a just a hint of brine which, believe it or not, your tastebuds can pick up on.

17) Ditch the Pre-made Drink Mixes

Steer Clear of Pre-Made Drink Mixes When Making Cocktails at Home

The pre-made mixes you’ll buy at the store are loaded with junk to make them taste more appealing: lots of sugar and high fructose corn syrup as well as artificial sweeteners, preservatives and more. It’s really pretty amazing you can taste the key ingredients at all when you throw this stuff into a drink. Take a little extra time and exert a little extra effort and find out how to make your own sour mix etc.

18) Consider Making Your Own Bitters

Making Your Own Bitters Often Leads to Better Tasting Cocktails

Many of the tips that will lead to a better tasting drink involve fresh ingredients. These take more time and effort but the end, in this case, justifies the means. When you create your own bitters you’ll have complete control over the intensity of the flavors as well as taste and can create exactly the cocktail experience you’re after.

19) Don’t Put Fruit in the Fridge

Don't Keep Your Fruit in the Fridge

Refrigerated fruit will produce substantially less juice than fruit stored at room temperature so there’s no point keeping it in the fridge. While this won’t directly impact the flavor of the drink you’ll just get more juice from the room temperature fruit. And if you’re going to the trouble to make your own juice you want as much as possible.

20) Try Light Rum

Give Light Rum a Go - It Works Well for Many Rum Based Cocktails!

While dark rum gets all the press, light rum actually mixes well and won’t overpower a drink in the same way dark rum sometimes can. Light rum has the added benefit of producing less severe hangovers, should you or your guests overindulge.

21) Get Creative with the Recipe

Last time we checked we had still never seen a cocktail recipe that was etched in stone. Cocktail recipes aren’t medical prescriptions and shouldn’t be treated as though they’re holy writ. Have some fun already! Leave something out. Add something to the mix. Adjust the amounts. Experiment!

22) Ditch the Solo Cups – Presentation Matters!

Few things say amateur hour like the red Solo cup. Not only do they betray your general lack of bartending expertise, they also undermine two key components of any adult-oriented drink: taste and presentation. If you think a Manhattan tastes as good in a Solo cup as it does in a cocktail glass your tastebuds need some serious fine tuning.

When we asked Emily Arden Wells of Gastronomista.com for her best DIY cocktail tip she was keen to stress the importance of presentation:

We drink with our eyes first, so invest in a few nice pieces of barware - an old fashioned glass, a cocktail coupe, a nice shaker, and a set of handsome cocktail picks to highlight your garnishes!

23) Let Your Tastebuds Guide You

We asked Christa and Shaun from Boozenerds.com to share their top DIY cocktail making tip with us and this is what they said.

Taste the cocktail and feel free to amend. If it's too dry add more sweetener. If it's too sweet add more citrus or spirit. Don't be afraid to rebalance to meet your tastes.

24) Keep It Simple

Even after you’ve mastered the fine art of mixing the perfect cocktail you should still endeavor to keep your creations simple. The most satisfying drinks are always those that combine a few simple elements in a new and unexpected way. As that famous mixologist Albert Einstein was fond of saying “Everything should be as simple as possible...” Who are we to argue with Einstein?

25) Use Bar Spoons

Using a big heavy cereal spoon to stir your drink not only looks shabby it may not provide the thorough stir the drink requires. Invest in a few long, slender bar spoons instead and elevate the taste of your cocktails while impressing the heck out of your party guests at the same time.

26) Use Preserves Instead of Simple Syrup

If you’re among the legions that feel they have better things to do than mix up simple syrup for their drinks take a look through the pantry. Chances are you have some jam or preservatives there that will rocket your sweet drinks into the next dimension of both taste and interest.

27) Man Up

A lot of people never take a risk because they’re afraid they might fail or, worse yet, fail publicly. Such is the chance you take when you decide to become a home mixologist. Yes, someone at your next party may take a sip of your prized creation and give it the stank face. But not to worry. No one hits a home run every time and if you managed to catch that stank face on camera you might have a viral video on your hands.

So there you have it. With a little help from our friends we’ve given you 27 tips for creating better tasting cocktails. Take these to heart and you’ll have friends and neighbors clamoring for invites to your next soiree. Before we go however we’d like to add a few bonus tips that may help you enjoy that better tasting cocktail in a more fully satisfying manner.