Knowing how to drink at a bar goes far beyond just knowing what to order. Similarly, making a good cocktail at home requires more than just knowing the ingredients. From technique to terminology, these tips will help you look like an expert in the bar area.
1. Know what kind of whiskey to drink and when.
If you’re getting wasted with shots, well, whiskey is fine. If you want a spicy whiskey neat or on the rocks, go for a rye whiskey. Check out our full breakdown of what whiskey to drink when.
2. Learn the difference between “strong,” “weak,” “sweet,” and “sour” cocktails.
Strong means you want more alcohol, while weak means you want less. Sour means there will be a citrus note (lemon, lime, orange) while sweet means that sugar or syrup is involved.
3. Remember this simple “stirred versus shaken” rule.
Stir drinks that are all spirits and shake drinks that have egg, dairy, or citrus (unless otherwise specified).
4. Let lemon and lime juices sit out to age.
These two citrus juices taste best after they have been allowed to sit for four hours (you can keep them bottled, sealed, or refrigerated). Don’t do this with oranges, though — freshly squeezed is the way to go!
5. Know how to make an Old-Fashioned.
Place a sugar cube in an Old-Fashioned glass and saturate it with two dashes of bitters and plain water. Muddle together and fill the glass with ice cubes and two shots of bourbon or rye whiskey. Then garnish with an organic slice and cocktail cherry. Done.
6. When adding ingredients to cocktails, always start with the cheapest.
For example, add your citrus, then fruit juice, then alcohol.
7. Identify the notes of a whiskey by sniffing from different parts of the glass.
Hold the glass to your chin with the rim touching the bottom of your lower lip to sniff the fruity notes; tip the glass toward you slightly and dip your nose in to identify sweet notes; and hold the far rim off the glass to your nose to smell the grainy notes.
8. Keep certain spirits and ingredients in the refrigerator for the longest shelf life.
Keep vermouth and lower-proof liqueurs like Campari in the refrigerator. Simple syrup and other syrup mixers like orgeat should also be kept in the refrigerator.
9. Make simple syrup in a pinch with lime juice and brown sugar.
Mixed to taste, it’s a great substitute that won’t change the taste of the drink significantly.