From frozen fruit to fresh herbs, there are so many fun ways to enjoy a flavored cocktail. Delicious mixed drinks are a great way to celebrate special occasions. It seems like every bar or restaurant has new, featured cocktails that have all sorts of fun and funky ingredients in them. many of a them can be filled with sugary syrups, drink mixes, and become high (and empty) calorie concoctions. Skip the bar and make your own craft cocktails at home so you’re in control of what goes in them.
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Use this drink ratio when mixing_ Use a 1:1:3 ratio with alcohol to flavoring (100% juice) to seltzer/low calorie liquid. Making sure you’re not adding more than 1 shot of alcohol to your mixed drinks will keep you from getting super dehydrated (which means no hangover!) or adding unnecessary calories. When choosing your alcohol, don’t pay attention to the hype of lighter colored liquors being better for you than darker colors. A 1.5 oz shot of any 86-proof liquor is going to have 105 calories, regardless of color. But, keep in mind the higher the proof, the higher the calories.
Know your liquors_ Each base liquor plays its own unique role in a cocktail glass. Great vodka should be flavorless; as such, it can blend with anything from vermouth (in a Martini) to orange juice (in a Screwdriver). Gin is made from juniper berries and should maintain its idiosyncratic character when mixed into a Martini or a Tom Collins. Whiskey and rye are known for their smoky character and linger on the roof of a drinker’s mouth. They’re great in hearty drinks like Manhattans and Old Fashioneds. Rum can be either brown or clear and is sweeter than most other liquors; it’s the key ingredient in a Dark ‘N’ Stormys and Daiquiris. Tequila and mezcal are made from succulents and go well with citrus flavors in drinks like Margaritas.
Strain drinks properly_ You’ll need to strain drinks when you want to prevent ice cubes, ice shards, or bits of fresh ingredients from getting into the cocktail glass. Most professional bartenders own multiple strainers. The double-strain technique involves using a Hawthorn strainer to remove coarser solids and then a fine strainer to remove tiny flecks of fruit or ice. Cosmopolitans are a common double-strained drink. Meanwhile, Mint Juleps have a strainer specifically named for them: the Julep strainer.
Choose unsweetened flavored seltzers instead of sodas. These unsweetened seltzers still give you fizz, but less sugars and artificial flavorings than soda. Just be sure to check the label to make sure your seltzer is truly unsweetened.Add frozen berries, pomegranate arils, and other fun fruits to cool down your cocktails and have a nice snack to eat once you finish your drink. The fiber from the fruits will also help fill you up, so you’ll be less likely to drink more than you should.
Memorize cocktail recipes_ You don’t need to know everything, but part of bartending 101 is knowing some classic cocktails by heart. At a minimum, you should know how to make a Bloody Mary, a Martini (with dry vermouth), a Margarita (don’t skimp on the lime juice), a Vodka Cranberry, a Gin & Tonic (try it with grapefruit juice), and a Negroni. Beyond that, you can start to learn the main cocktail categories, like highballs, fizzes, sours, punches, etc. Once you learn the attributes of each category, you can better understand how to make each cocktail within that category.
Learn to shake a cocktail_ In many bars, shaking is the preferred mixing technique for non-carbonated drinks like Mojitos, Whiskey Sours, and the French 75. Investing in your own cocktail shaker is essential. Some shakers have lids; others, like the Boston shaker, look like two tin cups put together. You’ll also need to learn the dry shake, which is used to produce a thick foam with ingredients like cream and egg whites.
Study the art of layering_ In addition to shaking and stirring, a great bartender can layer certain drinks so that you can see layers of different liquids within the glassware. This requires a bar spoon and an understanding of how to layer your liqueurs, fruit juices, egg whites, foam, and other drink ingredients as needed.
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