It’s one thing to buy a few ingredients and mix up some drinks at home, but a whole other ball game to make them just as Insta-worthy and delicious as what you’d order in the fanciest bar in town.
For professional quality drinks at home, these simple tools and tricks will seriously up your cocktail game.
Glassware is not just about presentation. It’s a very important factor in the ultimate flavour of a beverage and how it hits the palate. Over 3000 years of glassware design means today we have glasses designed specifically for different drinks. Tall, short, wide, squat, light or weighted — there’s a perfect glass for every drink — to enhance flavour, assist aroma, showcase colour and more. But who can afford a set of glasses for every drink?
The trick is choosing versatile glasses that caters to more than one type of drink, but that also looks great in the drinks cabinet. To avoid spending a fortune, opt for versatile but classic shapes that cater for a range of drinks, but that you can still show off in the cabinet or bar cart, such as:
- White wine glasses — great for your white wines and all your wine-based cocktails (think: Aperol) and spritzers.
- Red wine glasses — featuring a larger bowl than white wine glasses to allow flavour and aromas to develop in the glass, red wine glasses also enable the botanicals in your favourite gin and tonic to open up.
- Cocktail Coupes — stemmed glass with a saucer shape that looks fabulous on any bar cart, perfect for bubbles, any champagne cocktail, and a modern-day alternative to the more specialised margarita and martini glass.
- Tumblers — short glasses for sipping spirits-based drinks. Also known as lowball glasses, these are handy to have on hand for spirits on the rocks or for those cocktails like Old Fashioneds that call for muddling. Even handy for water!
- Highballs — tall, slim glasses that are perfect for any mixed drink that calls for lots of ice. Think Mojito or Long Island Iced Tea.
Shake or Stir?
There’s a time and place for everything, including when to stir and when to shake your cocktail. Need a rule of thumb that you can remember?
Shaking is the most commonly used method for mixing drinks and should be the technique you employ when your ingredients go beyond just alcohol. So shake if you’re working with fruit, herbs, juice, dairy or egg and you’ll dilute your mix while adding air and texture, which is what you want.
Opt to stir if your drink is spirit heavy — think Old Fashioneds, Manhattans and Martinis. Here you want only minimal water and air in your cocktail and to keep the texture smooth. (Sorry 007!)
Decorative Ice Cubes
Got your drinks sorted but want to add an impressive twist? A simple way to add the wow factor is to freeze some juices, a few herbs or even edible flowers picked straight from the garden by placing them into an ice cube tray with a splash of water before popping them in the freezer. Not only will these keep your beverage chilled, but they’ll also add a pop of colour and a whole new level of flavour to your drinks.
We can’t get enough of mint leaves and citrus peel. And who doesn’t have those at home?
Dress Your Drink
To dress your drink is to garnish your drink. Whether it’s with a citrus twist, olives on a cocktail stick, a salted rim or floating flower, garnishes add that extra flair and aroma. Garnishes that look both delicious and delightful get us excited about the beverage we’re about to receive. For simple go-to-garnishes that are readily available:
- Maraschino cherries — add sweetness and pop of colour. Easy to find in-store and handy to have on hand in the pantry.
- Citrus twist — twist a slim piece of peel from seasonal citrus to make a drink look both appealing and refreshing.
- Citrus salt — blend grated citrus peel and salt in the blender to salt your glass rims. Works well with tequila!
- Rosemary — pop a leafy stalk into a tall glass and voilà! Instant transformation!
- Dehydrated fruit wheel — straight from a low heat oven to your drink. A great option for cocktails where they’ll soak up the flavours of the alcohol. Yum!
Swizzle Sticks and Straws
So many to choose from… Sophisticated or simple, there’s a swizzle stick or straw out there for every drink. Get playful with mini pegs and chalkboards, keep it classic with a metal cocktail stick and cocktail onions in your martini glass, or opt for colourful (paper!) straws in a vintage stripe. Whatever you choose, these are easy additions to ‘zhoosh’ up your next round of drinks.