To enjoy the fun of cocktails at home, you don’t need to spend a fortune on shiny koriko shakers and stylish Japanese jiggers – even our cocktail bartenders have been known to trade a muddler for a wooden spoon back in the day.
From top tool swaps to finishing touches to help you present cocktails like a pro, here are our best home cocktail mixing hacks.
1. Use spoons to measure
A jigger is a tool used by cocktail bartenders to measure spirits. It’s a nice-to-have, but with a quick rummage through your kitchen cupboards and cutlery drawer, you’ll find the ideal substitutes to make sure you mix perfectly balanced cocktails.
1 teaspoon = 5ml
1 tablespoon = 15ml
1 egg cup = 20-25ml
2. Shake it in something else
Bartenders use metal cocktail shakers because they have a tight seal, formed when the temperature drops and causes the metal to contract, but there are cheaper options that you probably already own. Try a mason or jam jar, or a reusable water bottle. They key is to make sure the lid is screwed on tight!
3. Stir it with a…stick?
For stirring rather than shaking, your recipe may suggest a bar spoon. That’s just a metal spoon with a long handle that can get amongst the ice and spirits in your glass. The stem of a wooden spoon or a chopstick can definitely do the job.
4. Blend in
Spirit only cocktails, such as Martinis and Manhattans, need to be blended and chilled with ice to control dilution. This is where a mixing glass comes in. Choose a suitably tough alternative such as a standard pint glass, a measuring jug or a cafetiere (save your delicate glasses for serving).
5. Mix up your muddler
A bit like the pestle and mortar of the cocktail world, a muddler is used to crush fruit and herbs to release flavour into your cocktail. The end of a rolling pin works well, or you can always use that wooden spoon! Just be careful not to hit the herbs too hard, as that can make them taste bitter.
6. To strain is to sieve
A cocktail strainer is a small metal sieve that comes into play when you pour your mixed cocktail from the mixing glass (or your alternative of choice) into the serving glass. The point is to stop ice or other chunky ingredients getting through. You could use the lid of your jam or mason jar, a slatted spoon or a tea strainer.
7. Make your own sugar syrup
Sugar syrup is a key ingredient in numerous cocktail favourites and an essential for your home cocktail bar. It’s the first choice of cocktail bartenders because, unlike granulated sugar, it has already dissolved, making it quicker to mix and smoother to drink.
We recommend making a good-sized batch and storing it in the fridge alongside the rest of your cocktail ingredients.
To make your own sugar syrup, simply dissolve 100g of caster sugar in 100g of boiling water over a low heat, then leave to cool before bottling.
8. Serve ice like a pro
For crushed ice to go in cocktails such as a Mojito or a Frozen Daiquiri, all the kit you need is a clean tea-towel and a rolling pin. Place a handful of ice cubes onto the tea towel, fold it up, then hit them with your rolling pin until they’re crushed to your chosen consistency.
For high-quality, clear, shiny ice cubes, make your ice using distilled water: boil it, let it cool slightly, boil it again, then freeze it in trays. For that extra professional, stylish look, invest in square ice cube trays.
9. A few finishing touches
For really top-notch cocktails, put your serving glasses in the freezer for about half an hour before you use them. This ensures your cocktails are properly chilled and stay colder for longer.
And for the final finishing touch, rim your glasses with sugar. Simply pour sugar onto a plate, rub or dip the rim of the glass in liquid flavour such as citrus juice, syrup or honey, then place the glass upside down in the sugar. Give it a twist to make sure the rim is covered, then shake off any excess. You can do the same with salt for cocktails such as a Margarita.
If you’re after a mobile bar to serve your cocktails in style, we can help. If you’re tempted to keep things simple and hire a bartender too, you know where we are. For more tips on how to throw a cocktail party at home, read our blog.
Get in touch today and start planning your party.