7 secrets to great home bartending

Tired of making so-so cocktails? You can up your game with a few super-easy tips.

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Evan Danielson, a bartender at Coco's Bistro, told us the things that will ensure you make drinks as well as the professionals: 


1. Use fresh ingredients, including fresh-squeezed citrus juice and syrups. Juice will stay good for one day. For a simple syrup, use 1 part water and 1 part sugar. At room temperature, the sugar will dissolve – there's no need to heat it on the stove. The syrup will stay good up to a week. 

You can up your game with these easy pro tips from a local bartender

2. Use fresh ice. The reason is simple when you think about it — ice that's been around for a while has picked up that “freezer smell.” You certainly don't want that smell in your drink. 

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3. Use large ice cubes. There's less surface area on large ice cubes, which means they will dilute more slowly than small cubes or chips. Danielson recommends purchasing large cube ice trays and other professional bartending equipment at Cocktail Kingdom. For pre-batching, keep in mind that the ice will melt and add 20 to 25 percent water to the drinks. Taste before serving. If water is an ingredient, add it to the final product. 

4. For shaking drinks, purchase two pieces of tin for a shaker. Tin is a better conductor than glass, which means your drink cools down faster in tin. For stirring, use layers of ice cubes and when you stir, try not to disturb the ice, but treat it as one big piece. Watch videos of professional bartenders to learn how to shake and stir correctly. 

5. Use a double jigger (1 and 2 ounce measurements). “A jigger helps you do a cocktail consistently,” Danielson said. 

6. Put together a basic bar: gin, bourbon, rye whiskey, vodka. After that, the next spirits to add are scotch, tequila, rum and triple sec. For the latter, Danielson recommends Cointreau. 

7. The basic cocktails to know how to make are an old fashioned, a proper gimlet, Manhattan, cosmopolitan, margarita, French 75 and sidecar.