Spending even just a couple of minutes watching the bartending wizards behind today’s best cocktail dens is enough to make any aspiring home bartender feel a little inadequate.
The confidence of their pours, the showmanship of their shaking, all those curious, colorful ingredients in little labeled bottles at their disposal — it’s a lot to take in, and quite frankly, pretty intimidating to try and emulate.
Still, that shouldn’t hold anyone back from trying, and there are plenty of little tips and tricks you can pick up to improve your cocktail game. Often, some of the best advice bartenders have to offer is the simplest — for example, using good, fresh ice. (No joke, the quality of the ice can make or break a cocktail.)
Other pieces of knowledge are more practical, like when a drink should be shaken, and when it’s better stirred. And then there are the things that bartenders just pick up from experience, like knowing that it’s important to use a shaker with a mixing glass made with tempered glass (to avoid damaging it).
To that end, here are eight tips to help you improve your skills as a home bartender. And if all else fails, there’s always the bar around the corner, right?