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Tips & Tricks to Improve Your At-Home Bartending Skills

Close-up shot of a person’s hands making cocktail drinks Are you starting to get bummed because of cabin fever? Do you miss hanging out with friends while sipping your favourite cocktails at your local bar? Staying home does not mean stopping the fun. Grab this chance to gain basic bartending knowledge. You'll be having so much fun learning everything about (and drinking) delicious cocktail mixes; you'll be surprised you've become a pro. Check out this comprehensive guide on how to improve your bartending skills at home. Let's dig right in!

Tip 1: The Secret Is Sugar

Sugar makes everything taste better in a snap. Alcoholic mixes are no exception. Whether you're using gin, vodka, or whiskey as your base, simple syrup is an indispensable ingredient in countless cocktail recipes. Here are some examples.
  • Appletini
  • Vodka Sour
  • Vodka Fizz
  • Caipiroska
  • Lemon Drop
  • Vodka Mojito
  • Russian Recycled
  • Shirley Temple
  • Daiquiri
And the list goes on! Simple sugar is an absolute must-have in every bar. It's going to make a difference while you're improving your cocktail skills at home because it's a pantry staple and uncomplicated to DIY, too. To make a homemade simple syrup for your cocktail recipes, follow these steps:
  1. Heat equal parts of sugar and water in a saucepan set under low fire.
  2. Stir slowly to dissolve sugar completely.
  3. Turn off the stove immediately. Don't let it come to a boil, or it will burn and become bitter.
  4. Let the simple sugar cool. Transfer to glass jars with lid for storage. Kept in the refrigerator, it can last up to two weeks.
For richer consistency, you can have a 2:1 ratio of sugar to water. Avoid making your simple sugar too thick, or it won't mix well with your other ingredients. If you don't have the time (or the patience) to make simple sugar from scratch, you can also use maple syrup or honey to sweeten your cocktail recipes.

 Glasses of different cocktail mixes

Tip 2: You'll Never Go Wrong with Citrus

Whether you have a lemon, lime, blood oranges, grapefruit, orange, clementine, or a kumquat, you're good to go! Citrus fruits and cocktail recipes are made for each other. If you have a Spirit of York Vodka or Gin on hand and have whatever type of citrus fruit in the kitchen, go ahead and make yourself an enticingly intoxicating cocktail drink, you can slowly sip to take the edge off. To give you some ideas, here are some yummy and easy-to-make citrus-based cocktails.
  • Screwdriver - It's originally a combination of orange juice and vodka.
  • Greyhound - Its cocktail recipe calls for grapefruit juice and vodka or gin.
  • Rum and Orange - It's a straightforward cocktail featuring dark rum and orange juice.
Feel free to give these summer cocktail recipes a twist by substituting with any citrus fruit available. Squeeze the juice first from the fruit. Don't forget to keep the peels or separate wedges for garnishing.

Bartender with a variety of cocktails

Tip 3: Skip Ready-Made Juices If You Can

While it's understandable that you have to make the most of what you have at home, expert bartenders discourage using pre-made juices for your cocktails. Despite their convenience, they're going to dramatically affect the flavour and compromise the result of your cocktail recipe. Besides, freshly squeezed juices may be a piece of basic bartending knowledge, but it's a valuable one that improves your cocktail skills, and that will take you places.

Tip 4: When Do You Shake or Stir A Cocktail?

For some cocktail drinks, it may not matter whether you shake or stir, for example, a gin or vodka martini. But professional bartenders reveal that cocktail recipes that involve cream liqueurs, juices, and thickened mixtures should be shaken. Shaking adds air that improves the texture of these types of cocktails. On the other hand, the stirring technique is best used for spirits with no mixes, say, the classic gin and tonic.

Tip 5: When Muddling Herbs, Press But Don't Pound

 Muddling ingredients for a cocktail drink When a recipe calls for you to muddle herbs, be gentle not to crush the herbs. In her book "101 Mojitos and Other Muddled Drinks," popular cocktail mixer, Kim Haasarud, advised, "With herbs — such as mint, sage, basil — you really just want to press them to extract the essential oils; that's it!" When they're crushed and pulverized excessively, the herbs can produce a bitter taste that'll spoil your cocktail.

Tip 6: Be Creative and Shop Your Pantry

Basic bartending knowledge, combined with creativity, is going to get you a long way. Now that you have a rudimentary understanding of cocktail mixing, check out your pantry and make an inventory of available ingredients that you can work with. Other simple sugar and citrus, be on the lookout for ginger, cinnamon, frozen berries or strawberries, hot sauce, or Worchester sauce. Research online for simple cocktail recipes that need any of the ingredients you have on hand. For instance, Tabasco and Worcestershire sauce can be used for the iconic cocktails Bloody Mary, while ginger is frequently used with whiskey-based cocktail recipes.

Tip 7: Taste Ingredients One By One Before Mixing

A lot of experimenting and exploring different ingredients and combinations will no doubt improve cocktail skills at home. A little caveat, though: make it a point to taste all the ingredients individually first before putting them all together in your cocktail shaker. Aside from being able to vet if an ingredient is still fresh or has gone bad already, it's also an excellent learning technique to familiarize yourself with the unique flavours, textures, and aroma. It's going to help you tap into your inner mixologist and enhance your intrinsic ability to create your concoctions.

Tip 8: Select Only Premium Spirits by Spirit of York

If there's a basic bartending knowledge we'd like to leave you with, it would be never to sacrifice the quality of your spirits. Nothing can mask the unpleasant flavour of subpar spirits. It's not only going to hinder you from improving your cocktail making skills but also leave you uninspired because the end products will be a letdown. Stock up on Spirit of York's finest products today. We have everything available in our Distillery located at 12 Trinity Street, Toronto, Ontario and in provinces across Canada. For detailed inquiries, please get in touch with the Spirit of York team now!

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