There's a reason we go to bars and pay a good price to get a cocktail. They just taste better when a professional bartender makes them. Even when you buy top-shelf liquor, making a drink at home just doesn't come out the same as when you order one. Why is that? Do bartenders have a special touch?
Well, yes and no. Bartenders know some tricks that make all the difference between a just-can't-get-enough cocktail and a very mediocre drink. But don't be discouraged, you don't have to be a bartender to make killer drinks. You can easily learn these tricks of the trade and make thirst-quenching cocktails at home. All you need to do is understand the importance of ice.
Ice can make or break your cocktail. For starters, a lot of ice is required when making a drink, even if none of it ends up in the glass with the cocktail. It's used not only to chill a beverage, but also to properly dilute it.
One of the biggest mistakes home bartenders make is not diluting their drinks. There's no hard-and-fast rule, but on average 25 percent dilution is ideal. And there are simple cues to know when your drink is properly diluted.
When making a stirred cocktail, you'll want to watch the edges of the ice cubes. Once they've lost their sharpness and the edges have a round quality, your cocktail's ready. The bar mixing spoon helps achieve this result and is easier to use than a regular spoon because it's extra long and has a very thin handle.
When mixing a drink in a metal shaker, you'll know it's adequately diluted as soon as the shaker develops a lightly frost on the outside. (For this kind of cocktail, you might want to invest in a stainless steel cocktail shaker and mixing glass -- it'll make all the difference.)
Ice aside, when preparing a cocktail, ratios mean everything. So when recreating a classic cocktail at home, it's important to get them right -- a little too much rye or a little too light on the vermouth can throw off the flavor of your cocktail completely. That's where a jigger comes in handy. A jigger -- a small measuring cup that measures ounces -- is a tiny but helpful tool to control ratios. Another great help in controlling quantities are free flow pourers. Pourers not only make it easy to fill a shot without spilling, but they can also allow you to eventually make drinks without a jigger -- with a counting pour.
Now that you know the these often over-looked bartending tricks, you can enjoy expert cocktails at home. If you want a quick tutorial on how to shake cocktails, watch the video below.
WATCH: How To Shake A Cocktail