6 foolproof tips for making cocktails and mocktails at home
With bars around the country temporarily closed to prevent the spread of coronavirus, Friday and Saturday nights just have not felt as festive.
Below, barman at the Radisson Blu Hotel Waterfront, AJ Snetler, shares his top tips on how to spruce up your celebratory drinks while in lockdown.
Work with the glasses that you have
Everyone has a cabinet of glasses, and there’ll definitely be an option among those that are perfect for certain types of cocktails. Take a look at what you have to work with, then plan your cocktails accordingly so that you get the serving part just right.
Many households have whiskey tumblers, which are good for whiskey-based cocktails, dark mocktails, or gin and tonics.
Pay some attention to your garnishing
Just a touch of a green garnish can spruce up any drink, taking it from ordinary to something special. Adding a sprig of rosemary to a gin and tonic or adding it to a Duchess or Seedlip virgin drink options will also go a long way to creating a far more professional look.
You could also go all-out and buy some of the less obvious herbs, leaves, and other trimmings for a look straight out of a cocktail bar.
Banana leaves work well with tiki-style cocktails like a pina colada and easily replaces pineapple garnish, while dehydrated orange and lime wheels work in almost every drink. Picture a margarita with a lime wheel.
Use your wine, but don’t just mix it with anything
Maybe you’re running low on spirits right now and you’re eyeing that wine in the corner. It’s perfectly acceptable to make a wine-based cocktail, but you really have to be smart about it. Mixing wine with random flavours and other drinks can turn it into something very unappetising.
Earlier this year, we came up with a few wine-based drinks at the hotel and they worked perfectly. One was the Ludus cocktail, made with 50ml Warwick Rose, 12.5ml Fabbri Violet,
12.5ml Fabbri Rose, 20ml Lime, and one bar spoon of strawberry jam. Add all the ingredients to a cocktail shaker, and fill almost three quarters with ice. Then shake and strain, before serving over ice in a rocks glass or short tumbler. Then just enjoy it.
Don’t make your mocktails too sweet
Mocktails can be tricky, so be careful about making yours taste too much like juice. It’s crucial that you get the balance right. Try using a clear fizzy drink as a base (tonic water, Duchess drinks, sparkling water), then add other flavours and ingredients, like a touch of grenadine syrup and orange juice. Crushed ice in the glass also goes a long way to taking this drink to the next level.
Ambience is everything
You can make the best-looking cocktail - or mocktail - in the world, but if you don’t serve it with a dose of pizzazz, you’re doing yourself no favours. Just because you’re in lockdown doesn’t mean you can’t swop your tracksuit for something far more alluring.
Get all dressed up, set up your own private “cocktail bar”, and then invite your special someone out on a home-based “date”. This is the time for some creative thinking.
With the weather getting colder, a drink that warms you up from the inside is perfect for this time of year. There are so many cocktails to try that feature an array of different fruits and spices capable of warming you up.
The alcohol options range from whisky to brandy to rum and even red wine for Gluwhein. One of my favourites is the Blue Blazer, where the ingredients are added to a steel flask or jug. The ingredients are then heated and actually lit on fire, where it is tossed between the two jugs. The theatrics of this is great, especially in a bar environment.