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Whether you’re a bartender or a party host, it’s crucial to know how to make a good cocktail. It’s entertaining season, and even the most basic parties will serve some form of a cocktail. If you find your own drink list or recipes lacklustre or dull, it’s time to get prepared.

How can you up your cocktail game and ensure you make a cocktail you and your friends will love?

Making a cocktail isn’t difficult, but making an amazing cocktail takes a bit more finesse. Here are some tips to help you make amazing cocktails to impress everyone at the party this holiday season.

1. Avoid Cheap Liquor

It should come as no surprise that buying cheap liquor will make your cocktails taste subpar. If you want to wow people with your drinks, spring for some fancier spirits and liquors; while you don’t need to spend a fortune to make a decent drink, you should avoid the cheap and nasties to keep your drinks classy and delicious.

2. Use Fresh Ingredients

When it comes to adding fruit juices and slices to your cocktails, you should always make sure to get the freshest ingredients.

Visit the farmers market for fresh fruits you can use to make your own juices and garnishes. Sure, you can use syrups and manufactured juices, but nothing tastes better than fresh-squeezed juice!

3. Know How to Mix Spirits

It’s important for you to understand the flavour profile of the spirits you’re combining in order to get a properly balanced drink. This is especially important if you’re using two types of spirits with drastically different profiles.

You may need to adjust your measurements accordingly to account for this difference. Instead of mixing a 1 to 1 ratio, you may want to use an ounce and a half of the weaker spirit and a half-ounce of the stronger ones to help balance flavours, bitterness or alcohol.

4. Know the Difference Between Cocktails and Mixed Drinks

A cocktail is defined as a drink that combines alcohol, a sweetener, water, and bitters. On the other hand, a mixed drink is a combination of two or more ingredients. While a cocktail certainly can be considered a mixed drink by this definition, not every mixed drink is a cocktail!

5. Understanding Cocktail Lingo

If you’re following a specific cocktail recipe, then you’ll want at least a basic understanding of cocktail lingo. This will help you understand the measurements and techniques involved while you’re mixing the drink.

Mixers are any additives such as syrups, sodas and juices that you can add to the drink. These mixers are usually non-alcoholic.

A splash and a dash are small measurements that are used to signify adding a very small amount of an ingredient into a drink. However, there is no exact number for these measurements, so you may need to experiment to figure out what you like best!

Finally, a garnish is anything you’d add to the side of the drink, such as a fruit slice, to add visual appeal.

6. Don’t Forget the Garnish

Even if your drink-making abilities are lacking, you can easily make your drink look and feel classier by adding garnishes.

This will usually be a fruit slice, such as an orange or a lemon, or an entire berry or small fruit, such as a strawberry or cherry. You can even add a fresh herb to give it that extra flair!

Make sure to pair your garnish to the flavour profile of the drink itself while deciding on what to use.

7. Pay Attention to Temperature

It’s very important to keep the ideal temperature of the drink you’re serving in mind.

A room temperature drink is not going to be pleasant, so try to serve your chilled drinks at zero degrees. For cold drinks, you can pop glasses in the freezer while you prepare the drink or store drinks in the fridge while you wait to serve them to keep them colder longer.

For hot drinks, on the other hand, you may want to serve them in preheated mugs so that they stay warm. When in doubt, try to serve your drinks as in chilled or heated cups for maximum enjoyment!

8. Go Light on the Soda

Soda is a great mixer that can add a nice fizz to your drinks, but you should never use them as a crutch. A small amount of soda to top off your drink is more than enough to give it that fizz without becoming over-diluted.

9. Sweeten Things Up

Even some of the fanciest liquors can need sweetening up. Mix in some simple syrups or other sweeteners to take the edge off the alcohol and make it palatable.

10. Remember Your Measurements

An experienced bartender may be able to eyeball the measurements of the drinks they mix, but you likely won’t have that same advantage. You should always use a jigger to measure out the ingredients of your drinks, at least until you feel confident in your abilities.

Making a Cocktail the Right Way

With these tips, you can master the art of making a cocktail and impress your friends at your next party with your new skills. Even hanging out at home with a nice drink will be better now that you can mix a great drink! If you’re ever in doubt, there are plenty of recipes you can follow online to help you create impressive cocktails.

What is your personal favourite? Are there any new cocktails you want to try making with these tips?

Continue reading our blog for more helpful tips!