Feeling insecure after watching professional mixologists shake, rattle and roll? Before you host your next home party, be prepared to take advantage of a few insider secrets.
Mark Spivak, author of Iconic Spirits: An Intoxicating History, shares a few suggestions for making your next bash a success. “Cocktails are a mix of art and science,” says Spivak. “The simpler they appear, the more precise you have to be.” Here are some of his tips for becoming an enviable home bartender:
- Use fresh, clean ice. Would you drink water from the tap in your neighborhood? If not, don’t make ice with it. While you don’t have to cut your own cubes from a block like the pros, you should—at the very least—invest in a water filter.
- Use top quality ingredients. There’s a world of difference between Grey Goose and Popov, or between Maker’s Mark and Old Crow. Spending a few extra bucks will improve your cocktails enormously, and make you look like a hero.
- Invest in a recipe book. Just in case one of your guests confuses your home bar with “Stump the Stars” and throws you a ringer, have a copy of Mr. Boston Official Bartender’s Guide on hand for reference.
- Follow directions. You certainly won’t be expected to stock orgeat syrup or orange flower water, but if a recipe calls for bitters, use them—they lend another dimension to a cocktail.
- Experiment with the Hard Shake. This Japanese technique involves snapping of the wrists, a circular motion and an over-the-shoulder position, and results in creamier and better-blended drinks. Practice first, and you’ll look like Tom Cruise in Cocktail.
Mark Spivak has been the Food and Wine Editor of Naples Illustrated, educating our readers on the finer points of wine and spirits since 2002. Visiting wine regions, distilleries and culinary meccas around the globe, Mark’s voice, an authoritative pen of the epicurean scene, can also be read on his blog Global Gourmet, where he writes about his experiences and insights, exclusively on naplesillustrated.com.
Mark is also the author of The Affordable Wine Guide to California and the Pacific Northwest(also available as an e-book), and his newest tome, Iconic Spirits: An Intoxicating History [Lyons Press], which hit bookstands November 2012.
Iconic Spirits is a must read for any and all interested in the world of the high-proofed. The book chronicles twelve unique spirits and categories that helped forge the cocktail culture of today, telling the untold stories and the hidden tales of each, followed with cocktail recipes, many of which are classics and genre originators.