A non-bartending friend approached me the other day and asked me to post some advice for the home bartender. Essentially, he wanted some easy tips on how to improve the quality of his cocktails and impress his guests. After some contemplation, I thought I'd offer these easy steps to creating better drinks.
1) Quality is essential. Cheap booze or mix makes for cheap tasting drinks. If you start with quality ingredients, you are halfway there.
2) Use bitters. If nothing else, a bottle of orange bitters in your home bar will punch up almost any drink, creating depth of flavor and structure in your drink. Even something like a Whiskey Sour becomes a much more interesting drink with a couple of dashes of bitters. May I suggest Regan's Orange Bitters #2.
3) Ice is important. I'm using a Tovolo Perfect Cube tray at home with excellent results for most of my rocks drinks. Perfect cubes not only control the rate of dilution, they look good and give a satisfying clink in the glass. Credit on this goes to Daniel Shoemaker of the TearDrop Lounge for converting me.
4) Buy a jigger. Yes, I know I free pour almost everything, but I have years of practice AND I also use a jigger on any drink that I find proportions to be essential to the creation of (like a Corpse Reviver #2). Don't kid yourself and think free pouring accurately is easy. If you want to build a quality cocktail for your guests, use a jigger and make sure that they get a drink with the correct proportions.
Moving on, my coconut rum experiment is almost over, and I'm getting ready to unleash Bacon Eggnog on the world soon. More posts to come as I'm finally settled again after the holidays.