Guide to Cocktails
Using the proper glassware for your handcrafted cocktails will show them off to the best effect. Stocking your bar cabinet with these four basic types will set you up for success when making most drinks.
Also known as a stemmed cocktail glass, this glass is distinguished by its cone-shaped bowl. It’s the quintessential glass for martinis and other drinks that are shaken with ice until chilled, then strained into the glass and served up (without ice),
such as the Manhattan and Sidecar.
Similar in shape to a martini glass but typically
a bit smaller, a coupe has a rounded bowl instead of a conical one. Traditionally used for serving champagne, today they are most likely to be used for pre-Prohibition cocktails, particularly potent ones best served in modest portions, like the Sazerac.
This tall, narrow glass is used for mixed drinks served on ice, such as a mojito or gin and tonic. The narrow mouth helps keep the bubbles from going flat in drinks topped with tonic, sparkling water or ginger beer.Shop All Highball Glasses >
This short, wide glass is named for the Old-Fashioned, the classic cocktail made with whiskey – often bourbon– and bitters, but it is also a popular choice for spirits served neat as well as any drink that benefits from being served over a single large cube of ice.Shop All Double Old-Fashioned Glasses >
Tools of the Trade
Having the right tools makes preparing cocktails easier, and more fun too.
Here are some of the mixology must-haves for a well-equipped home bar.
Two-sided devices for measuring liquid ingredients, jiggers come in a wide variety of sizes, from about 1/2 oz. on the smaller side to about 2 oz. on the larger side.
A sturdy wooden pestle, a muddler is used to crush ingredients such as fruit, fresh herbs or sugar cubes in a mixing glass or cocktail glass.
3. Hawthorne Strainer
A stainless-steel strainer equipped with a spring coil, it fits snugly in the top of most cocktail shakers and mixing glasses to allow you to strain the ice out.
4. Cobbler Shaker
This type of shaker, popular with many home mixologists, has a lid with a built-in strainer, so using a Hawthorne strainer isn’t necessary.
5. Bar Spoon
This long-handled spoon, often with a twisted shaft, is used for stirring cocktails as well as measuring small amounts of liquid.
6. Mixing Glass
These sturdy glasses are preferred by many for stirring up martinis and other clear cocktails that don’t contain juices or other mixers.
7. Bar Knife
In addition to being useful for cutting fruits and vegetables, the pronged tip can be used for spearing garnishes such as cherries and olives out of bottles.
8. Citrus Stripper
This stainless-steel tool with a sharp channel cuts strips of lemon, lime or orange peel, making it essential for garnishing many drinks.
The ice in your bucket stays cleaner and melts more slowly when you use tongs to pick up the cubes.
10. Bottle Opener
A sturdy opener makes quick work of opening bottles of ginger beer, sparkling water and other bottled beverages for your cocktails.
Making great cocktails isn’t difficult with the
right tools and a little know-how. Here are some expert tips on how to avoid rookie mistakes and really make your cocktails shine.
Use Freshly Squeezed Juice
Bottled citrus juice can’t compete with the flavor of freshly squeezed. Refrigerated citrus fruits yield less juice and are harder to squeeze, so keep lemons and limes at room temperature before squeezing them, using either a reamer or citrus press.Shop Citrus Tools >
Use the Right Ice for the Job
A single large cube is best when you want to serve straight spirits, such as whiskey, on ice, but regular ice cubes are fine for shaking drinks in a shaker. To keep punch perfectly cold without diluting it, make a large ice ring by freezing water in a Bundt pan, layering in some sliced fruit, herbs or edible flowers for extra pizzazz.Shop Ice Tools >
Shake (or Stir) It Like You Mean It
For most drinks that are shaken (or stirred) with ice, keep at it for 15 to 20 seconds, or until the outside of your shaker or mixing glass is thoroughly frosty. It’s key to making a perfectly chilled drink that is also diluted just the right amount.Shop Cocktail Shakers >
Finish with a Flourish
Garnishing a drink properly takes it from the ordinary to the extraordinary. Not only do garnishes add bright color and a finished look to drinks, but most of them, such as lemon twists, flamed orange peels and brandied cherries, add subtle flavor as well.