10 Cocktail Tips From Ina Garten You Need To Know

Few things bring people together like good cocktails. These drinks create a sense of community for adults, allowing them to wind down after a long day in the office. Happy hour events like these are so popular that there are some food influencers devoted to sharing cocktail recipes. Ina Garten, the cookbook author and Food Network personality most known for her show "Barefoot Contessa," is one of these influential figures. 

On her show, Garten covers a variety of topics while demonstrating different recipes. Cocktails are such a topic. Through the years, she's revealed several tips to help viewers improve their cocktail-making abilities. To help throw the best possible cocktail party, Garten recommends things like hosting your event earlier in the day, preparing multiple drinks at once, and much more. We'll break down ten of her best tips. This should help fans of libations make better drinks and expand their cocktail horizons.

Keep your event manageable

The first — and perhaps most important cocktail party tip from Ina Garten — is to keep your event manageable (via Bon Appétit). When you begin planning an event in your home or another location, things can quickly get out of hand. Making it your mission to keep things manageable, even early in the planning stages, goes a long way in ensuring your event is a success. This could happen through limiting your number of guests, or other methods.

We also recommend staying away from more exotic drinks. If you are inexperienced at making more involved cocktails, your best bet is to stick with the style of drinks you know. This helps to ensure that everyone ends up with an enjoyable drink. 

Also, plan out all your ingredients early, and make sure you have them in advance. You don't want to run out of anything during your event. This could make you, and your guests, unhappy.

Switch up the time of your cocktail party

It is no longer mandatory to host a drinking event at night. Instead, day drinking has become its own thing. According to Deadline, Ina Garten embraced this trend during the long doldrums of the pandemic lockdowns. But this isn't a new idea for those well-versed in the cocktail space.

Think about it this way. Imagine a spring or summer weekend where you want to bring together friends for nice drinks. You don't want to wait until the sun goes down, because some guests may have to get up early the next morning. Instead, you can host a daytime cocktail party on the roof of your building or a nice outdoor patio. You can even prepare various daytime drinks to lighten the mood and match the theme. Hosting cocktail events during the day may even allow you to invite more people, since additional friends may be available earlier in the day. On top of that, starting earlier allows you to drink longer. 

The lockdown forced everyone to stay in the house for much longer than expected. The idea of day drinking isn't new in any sense, but if Ina Garten and other high-profile cocktail connoisseurs embraced it — and began drinking earlier in the day — perhaps this was at least one benefit from the whole ordeal.

Chill your glasses

No one wants to drink a lukewarm cocktail. That almost defeats the purpose of such a beverage, which is usually meant to be cool and refreshing. To avoid this issue, one of Ina Garten's cocktail serving tips is to use pre-chilled glasses. She even recommends ditching your ice cubes altogether.

Chill your cocktail glasses for at least 30 minutes before using them for drinks. This allows the glasses to stay at a cool temperature. But there are additional benefits to using this tip. 

Using pre-chilled glasses keeps drinks colder longer than ice cubes. Chilled glasses also mean that you don't have to worry about the ice melting and watering down your drink. This is an easy tip to take advantage of. It's also one that can quickly help you look like an experienced host when inviting friends over for a cocktail party, or a dinner party where you are serving cocktails.

Add citrus to your mocktails

Getting friends together to enjoy alcoholic beverages sounds like a good time. But make sure you're being inclusive and offering non-alcoholic drink options. Just because a drink lacks alcohol, doesn't mean it shouldn't have a spot on your hosting menu. 

Many such cocktails — also known as mocktails — come with variations that still have their own distinctive taste. Putting a couple of those options up for grabs makes sure you can keep everyone included while showing off your skills as a bartender. Ina Garten offers several key tips for making mocktails. One especially important tip is to add citrus or lime to these drinks, according to PureWow. This helps to add an alcohol-like bitterness to these alcohol-free beverages. 

There are several non-alcoholic options that you could go try. Grapefruit soda, fresh lemon juice, and a salted rim could turn into an alcohol-free margarita. Hibiscus iced tea, fresh lime juice, and simple syrup create another cocktail-like recipe that's free from spirits. Test out your own non-alcoholic drinks to make sure there's something available for everyone.

Make drinks by the pitcher, instead of the glass

While it may look cool to make drinks one by one — and allow you to play bartender — making drinks in bulk is a useful tip to save time and supplies when hosting. Instead of making the drinks as individual orders, make some pitchers of cocktails and pour refills when asked. Serving up sangria? Do the same thing, but use a special wine pitcher to make things even look fancier. On Instagram, Ina Garten showcased her cocktail tip by making a pitcher of her famous rosé sangria. 

Basically, any drink that can be made in bulk should be. This tip saves you valuable minutes of preparation time that you'd probably rather spend conversing with friends. This tip is even more useful when hosting bigger functions, as you'll be able to keep more cups filled.

Many restaurants take this tip to heart, offering pitchers of various cocktails during brunch. Bottomless mimosas may not really be "bottomless," but putting several in a pitcher keeps drinks flowing. 

Use measuring devices

Most of us have seen bartenders throw drinks together with ease. These professionals do so while having conversations with customers, easily making multiple drinks at a time. It must be simple, right? Wrong. One mistake that many people make is attempting to guess at drink proportions. This can create disaster, especially when making a new drink recipe for the first time. 

One of Ina Garten's best cocktail tips quickly solves this problem. In an appearance on the show "Late Night with Seth Meyers," Garten recommended using a measuring cup in order to get drink proportions correct. Do not be afraid to do the same when attempting to make cocktails.

As you practice making drinks that call for specific amounts, you can begin to gauge what fits best to your own taste buds. But when making those same drinks for others, it is important to follow a recipe closely. This ensures that guests receive drinks they recognize and enjoy. Measuring devices are there to help. Taking advantage of them can take a bit of the stress off your shoulders.

Take advantage of wine tumblers

Everyone knows the classic long-stemmed wine glass. When the drinks and laughs are flowing, accidents may happen. This can lead people to drop their delicate, long-stemmed wine glasses. Not only does this break the glass, but it could lead to wine spilling onto furniture or clothing. To avoid accidents like these, expert Ina Garten recommends using wine tumblers, according to CNN. These stemless wine glasses give your drinkware a fresh look, on top of preventing possible accidents.

There are several different types of wine tumblers available on the market. Some sets can be found for less than ten dollars. Even though the name mentions wine, these vessels are perfectly capable of holding all different types of drinks. You can even impress your friends with a sense of organization by pouring specific drinks into certain glasses, as Garten does when hosting events. She recommends using larger wine tumblers for red wine, and smaller ones for white wine.

Learn to make a variety of drinks

Having a variety of options on your drink menu will make things more enjoyable for everyone involved. Once you get more experienced, you can showcase your creativity. In the beginning, you can look for unique recipes made by professionals. For example, Ina Garten offers a special twist on the old fashioned. She shared this cocktail tip through an Instagram post. Garten recommends using cognac-soaked cherries, to add additional flavor to the drink. 

To work your way towards Garten's level of cocktail-making finesse, practice making new drinks. You can test these yourself. If you have a significant other, you can use them as a taste tester for these new drink recipes. There are many resources online, including step-by-step videos that break down how to make the most popular cocktails out there. If you're particularly inspired by Garten, the celebrity chef has tons of drink recipes to try. The whole point is to diversify your bartending abilities to give your visitors a variety of options.

Maintain the temperature of your drinks

One way to make sure that drinks are served at a constant temperature is to keep them refrigerated. Make sure that pitchers and ingredients aren't left out in the open, where they can gradually become warm. Instead, get in the habit of pouring drinks, then immediately placing your pitcher back in the refrigerator. Also, make sure to use fresh glasses or add new ice cubes for every pour. This help makes sure that each beverage is nice and cold. 

Ina Garten has an additional tip for keeping your drinks cool. The chef recommends keeping certain beverages or bottles submerged in a bucket of ice water. She demonstrated this tip with a bottle of champagne in a social media post. Garten said using ice water instead of ice helps the bottle get colder faster. Desired temperatures of a cocktail will vary from drink to drink. But in general, you'll want to keep beverages at or below room temperature. 

Experiment with drink modifications

Once you gain some experience, you can start to personalize your drinks. If you don't like Coke but want something similar to a Cuba Libre — a drink similar to a rum and Coke — you can try using root beer for the soda element. Don't like salt on your rim for margaritas? Tajin or sugar are great replacement options. Even the standard mimosa doesn't have to be made with orange juice.

Practice making drinks with new takes on ingredients. This can help you to come up with new menu options. Ina Garten does so by elevating her whiskey sours with microwaved bourbon cherries. Other ways to modify drinks include trading tequila for vodka, using new types of mixers, and more. This is where practice and taste testing comes into play. You never know what you may stumble upon by shaking up your ingredients. 

Static Media owns and operates The Daily Meal and Tasting Table.