There's a reason so many of us like going out for drinks -- cocktails are just so much better when made by a professional bartender. Especially these days, when mixologists have made mixing drinks an artful endeavor. It's not that great cocktails can't be made with your own home bar, it's just that most people don't know what to do with those bottles in front of them (besides drink them, of course).
The principle behind mixing a drink is simple: you just pour together ingredients, stir and sip. But there are important details that cannot be overlooked for a cocktail to actually taste like something you want to drink. None of them are difficult, but all of them crucial.
If you're making the mistake of forgetting about the details, you're missing out on what could be a great cocktail. Don't waste another drink, read up on what not to do and enjoy better cocktails.
Stronger Does Not Mean Better
Yes, a strong drink will get your drunk faster, but you won't enjoy the process nearly as much as with a well-balanced cocktail. Stick to the proper proportions and your cocktails will thank you.
Don't Skimp On Ice
Ice is crucial when making drinks. Not only does it cool your cocktail down to a pleasant temperature, but the ice also dilutes the cocktail to the proper ratio.
Don't Treat All Ingredients The Same
Not all ingredients are equal when it comes to muddling. You'll want to <a href="http://www.bonappetit.com/tipstools/slideshows/2011/10/secrets-to-making-the-perfect-cocktail#slide=2" target="_blank">muddle harder ingredients</a> such as citrus a little more vigorously than delicate ingredients like fresh herbs.
Don't Forget The Garnish
Garnish <a href="https://editorial.huffingtonpost.com/_crop/#page=search&source=getty" target="_blank">isn't just about aesthetics</a>, it adds a finishing flavor profile to your cocktail. Before placing a garnish of fresh herbs in your drink, clap them between your palms to release the oils. If garnishing with a citrus peel, squeeze the peel together over the drink, skin side down, before adding it to the rim of your glass.
Don't Go Cheap
Cheap liquor is going to make cheap drinks. There's just no way around this one.
Don't Forget The Cocktail Glass
Okay, you definitely don't <em>need</em> <a href="http://www.thekitchn.com/5-cocktail-bar-tips-for-making-topnotch-drinks-at-home-187919" target="_blank">cocktail glasses</a> to make a good drink at home. But presentation is important, and having a nice drink served in a cocktail glass can make all the difference.
Don't Ruin A Drink With Bad Ice
We know what you're thinking: there's such a thing as bad ice?!? And the answer is yes. Yes, there is. If ice has been sitting in the freezer too long, it can begin to take on smells and tastes of the freezer and this will make its way into your delicately-flavored drink. Make fresh ice. It's an <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/find-eat-drink/cocktail-making-tips-from_b_836260.html#s253992&title=How_to_ruin" target="_blank">easy fix for better cocktails</a>.
Don't Skip The Bitters
A few dashes of bitters can be just the thing you need to make your drink go from "eh" to awesome. They <a href="http://www.thekitchn.com/5-cocktail-bar-tips-for-making-topnotch-drinks-at-home-187919" target="_blank">add a complexity</a> to your drink you can't get otherwise. But don't overdo it, a few drops will go a long way.
Don't Let Your Vermouth Go Stale
Vermouth finds its way into many of our favorite cocktails. But keep in mind that it's a fortified wine -- it doesn't last as long as your bottles of booze do. To avoid waste, buy the smaller 375 ml bottles and store them in the fridge. Once open, they'll <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/find-eat-drink/cocktail-making-tips-from_b_836260.html#s254013&title=Age_Matters" target="_blank">last for about a month</a>.
Don't Forget To Look At The Ice
When shaking cocktails, <a href="http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2012/04/03/how-to-make-a-cocktail_n_1396568.html" target="_blank">look to the ice cubes</a> to know when a drink is ready. Smooth edges on the ice cubes will indicate that you've reached an ideal diluation -- which is roughly 25 percent.