Mixology for Beginners

So, much like Judy Greer, you know that mixology is a big deal but don’t know much about it, or worse, were to begin? Don’t worry about it. You don’t need to be infusing simple syrup with coriander or amassing a bitters collection. We spoke with Matt Jones, Beam Suntory’s whisky ambassador, and he has a few tips will have you ready to master most mixing that might come your way.

Up Your Ice Game

Always use fresh ice. What’s fresh? Fewer than twenty-four hours old. Water in the freezer can take on the flavour of other things in the freezer. That’s true of the fridge too, for that matter. For best results, double-boil your water before freezing.

Fresh Squeeze

What’s the difference between the awesome daiquiri you had at the bar and the mediocre one you had at home? They fresh-squeezed their juice. Squeezing juice isn’t hard, especially considering how much better it makes a drink. It’s a low effort, high reward way to improve your mixology game.

Stock Simple Syrup

Simple syrup is in so many drinks that it makes sense to make a big batch and refrigerate it. You just need to put it in a squeeze bottle. Here’s what you do: boil one cup of water. Pour in one cup of sugar. Stir. When it’s all mixed, let it cool a bit and pour it into your squeeze bottle. Now you’re prepared.

Simple Plus One

Cocktails don’t have to be complicated. If you have a spirit and a selection of mixes on hand—cola, ginger ale, soda water, apple juice, iced tea, cream soda, etc.—then you have plenty of variety to play with. One ounce of spirit in a glass with ice, top it with a max, and you’re all set. And if it’s a little tart, sweeten it up with your simple syrup. A purist will tell you that you didn’t technically make a cocktail, but nobody else will technically care.

Batch Ingredients Ahead of Time

You need a whole bunch of chamomile tea, or you have a drink that calls for equal parts pomegranate, orange, and grapefruit juice? Make a big batch a few hours before your party. You can even make a big batch of a cocktail, if you want. A negroni is just one part gin, one part vermouth rosso, and one part Campari; nobody said how big the parts had to be. Make a pitcher and you’ll just have to pour and garnish with orange peel when your guests arrive.

Shake vs. Stir?

If your cocktail has citrus, milk, or eggs, shake it like hell. Stir everything else.

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