Home Bartending Is Fun!
Thursday Happy Hour isn’t just about the beverage — it’s about the whole atmosphere. The lighting, the music, the comfort, the laughter. But if you’d like to make a fantastic cocktail for yourself or a guest, here are nine sure-fire, time-tested tips from Gary.
- Use the best booze you can afford but don’t be afraid of mid-tier labels. The lesser-known brands in the mid-range may surprise you.
- Mixers and juices are better when you make them yourself. Here’s how …
- Don’t skimp on the ice. Fill that shaker up. Top off that rocks glass. Ice is what makes happy hour happy.
- Use the right glass. It doesn’t have to be Baccarat crystal, just clean and the appropriate size for what you’re serving. It doesn’t hurt if they all match; it will make your job measuring much easier. If you have time to chill them in the freezer, all the better. Here’s what we use.
- Some drinks work with a little dilution, some don’t. For the ones that do (Margarita, Gimlet, anything acidic), combine in this order: Ice, juices/mixers, liqueurs, alcohol. For the ones that should be very clean (Martini, French 75, Manhattan, etc.), mix the ingredients first, then add the ice so it has less time to melt into the mix.
- Know the flavors. Taste each ingredient you use individually, so if you run out or need to improvise, you can. Limes instead of lemons? That could work. Triple sec for orange Curacao? Hardly a difference to most. Honey instead of simple syrup? Give it a shot!
- Tell a story. Cocktails are for socializing. If you’re introducing a drink to someone for the first time, tell him or her a little bit about it. You don’t have to know the history of the thing, just a little trivia or how you discovered it (like maybe here?).
- Don’t forget the garnish. Don’t be afraid to bend some rules or experiment either. Try some brandied cherries instead of those awful neon red things in a jar. Stuff your own blue cheese olives. Impress your guests with beautiful lemon and orange twists. Look for other alternatives to the olive like pickled asparagus or spicy green beans.
- Be sensitive to your guests’ tastes. If they don’t like something, fix it. If they said they’d like to try a dry martini but then realize it’s far too strong for them, turn it into a Journalist. Happy guests help make happy hours.