Biggest Mistakes to Avoid When Making Cocktails
Updated Jul. 8, 2015
Making a great cocktail is a skill. Like any other skill, it takes practice and patience to master. Becoming a rock star behind the bar is about being willing to try new things; it’s about stretching your creativity and learning through trial, error and lots of experimenting.
Keep in mind, mistakes will be made when you’re developing a new skill and can become expensive quickly. Get in the habit of building your drinks by adding the less expensive ingredients first, leaving the spirits to be added last. That way, if you make a mistake and need to start over, you’re not throwing away the good stuff.
As with any skill, learning how to mix drinks takes time, patience and practice. Keep at it and enjoy the process, not just the end product. With a little attention to detail, and this short list of common errors to avoid, you’ll be an expert behind the bar in no time.
Don’t spend too much.
Are expensive spirits always better? No, they are merely different expressions of that given spirit. Quality mixers, however, should be sought out. Treat yourself and your guest to the best juices, sodas and tonics, and they’ll notice the difference.
Don’t over pour.
A cocktail recipe is about balance. It has units of measure (parts) for each ingredient. Add too little or too much of any part, especially the spirit, and the entire recipe will be thrown off. A perfect drink is well balanced, not strong
Don’t skip the bitters.
Adding a dash or two of bitters when making cocktails increases complexity beyond that of just another mix. ‘Dashing’ is also a nice way to add some panache to your bar skills.
Don’t massacre your muddle.
When adding herbs and fruit to the bottom of a glass before the liquid, treat ingredients differently for maximum flavor: delicate muddling for leaves and herbs, a bit harder muddling for fruits and rinds. Making great cocktails is all about technique.
Don’t shake just to shake.
Just because you have a Boston Shaker that’s a ton of fun to use doesn’t mean you should do so on every recipe. Some cocktails should be stirred because too much shaking creates foam, this can ‘water down’ the overall recipe, and in worst cases, ‘bruises’ or changes the flavor of the spirit
Don’t forgo the garnish.
Garnishing adds freshness, flavor and finish to every cocktail. Remember that presentation matters. Forget the garnish and you’ll miss a chance to show off and add flavor at the same time. The general rules for citrus include: Wedges, Wheels, Twists and Peels. Adding fresh berries, spice sticks and herb sprigs are the true hallmarks of “high-end cocktails.”