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December 05, 2020

Be Your Own Bartender by Charles Nelson, Founder

Feeling classy doesn’t come easy in quarantine.

Zoom calls are typically a waist-up affair so there’s a real danger in becoming a creature of the sweatpants. (If you must, check out these for a sleek, soft fit!). Every now and then, it’s a great mood boost to switch things up - even if it’s just for yourself.

One fun way to do this is with an elegant cocktail. If you can’t go to a classy bar, it’s simpler and cheaper than you think to treat yourself to a night in. And, it’s a great way to impress your dog.

Here are a few tips to make drinking at home feel more “James Bond at the Bellagio” and less like “James Bond going through a breakup.”
THE TOOLS

First, you don’t need every bartender tool if you’re only making a few different cocktails. It really depends on your drink of choice. Plus, you can get by with common kitchen tools pretty often.

The Shaker

It’s hard to feel elegant trying to mix a drink with two mismatched glass cups. You’ll splash them into each other, spilling juice all over the counter like a toddler who snuck into the kitchen.

A decent shaker can be found for under fifteen dollars, and it’s by far your most essential tool. Plus, it makes a terribly satisfying sound.

Most shakers also come with a strainer, which is very helpful… unless you like picking mint out of your teeth. Hey, we don’t judge.

The Measuring Tool

The next step to feeling pro is actually measuring the amount of alcohol you’re consuming. Not that we’re against guesstimating, but some of us tend to round up. A good jigger is quite cheap and many mixers come with one as a set.

Specialty Ice Cube Tray

Some drinks are made by the type of ice used - specifically, a large, solid block you might find in a bar cocktail. Not only do these have an aesthetic appeal, they also melt slower (due to surface area), meaning your drink won’t become watery.

The Cocktail Glass

You would be surprised what a difference the right glass makes.

As to which glass to get? Think about your favorite drink, then work backwards.

Do you like old fashioneds and margaritas? A set of cheap basic tumbler glasses can work for both.

THE DRINKS

Once you’ve got your setup, it’s time to experiment. Don’t write off certain drinks if you hate the base alcohol. The difference between a shot of gin and a Negroni is night and day.

Here are a few common cocktails to get you started:

The Margarita:

First of all, a margarita can be classy. It breaks our heart a little when we see folks buying premade margarita mix from the store.

The classic margarita combines 2 ounces of blanco tequila with 1 ounce of Triple-Sec (or Cointreau) and 1 ounce of lime juice. But this is only the beginning — margaritas are great fun to experiment with. For example, try swapping out the orange liqueur for pineapple juice (or agave syrup). For some spice, add a few thin slices of jalapeno to the shaker (don’t add the seeds!). For some smokiness, use mezcal instead of tequila.

Take your marg to the next level by lining the rim of your glass with salt. Use a lime wedge around the edge of your glass, then dip it into kosher or flaked salt. For a real spicy trick, try Tajin instead!

The Old Fashioned:

Few drinks are so aptly named as this one. An old fashioned is a great drink for right now – cold, winter months.

Start with a small sugar cube, or ½ teaspoon of sugar, then muddle with 1 teaspoon of water and 2 dashes of Angostura bitters. Add 2 ounces of rye whisky or bourbon, a large ice cube and stir. Add a small slice of an orange peel for full effect.

The Manhattan:

A Manhattan is similar to an Old Fashioned, but some people vastly prefer it. Stir (don’t shake) 2 ounces of rye whisky, 1 ounce of sweet vermouth and 2 dashes of Angostura bitters with ice, then strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange twist or brandied cherry.

The Negroni:

Negronis are a classic Italian palate cleanser. Stir 1 ounce of dry gin, 1 ounce of sweet vermouth and1 ounce of Campari with ice and strain into a chilled glass filled with ice.

THE PURPOSE OF A COCKTAIL

Spending the time to craft a cocktail isn’t just fun.

It actually gives more meaning to the drink as you’re sipping it.

Not only is home a great place to experiment like a boozy chemist, you might find it adds a zest and flair to an otherwise mediocre night. Cheers!