Making cocktails at home can be fun and very rewarding but if you’re not getting the results you want, then maybe there are a few mistakes in your technique.
We all get lazy at times but it’s important to realise that cocktails are, by their nature, quite precise. Like baking, the recipes are fairly clear-cut and to get the results you want, they should be followed fairly close to the letter.
Cocktails can be both glaringly simple and frustratingly convoluted, but before you throw your jigger at the wall, there are a few common mistakes that can be easily eliminated.
Not measuring your pours
If the flavour of your cocktail tastes a bit off, then you are probably not maturing your pours correctly. Sure, it may look cool to free pour but there are very few people (bartenders included) who can get the measurements right. Cocktails are delicate and it doesn’t take much to throw off the entire flavour profile. So, always use a jigger to ensure the proportions are correct.
Using bottled juice
If your cocktail tastes a bit too sweet and the flavour is a bit artificial, it might be because you are not using fresh juice. Cocktails should all be about freshness and balance. Now, while it may seem simpler to be able to use a bottled juice for your cocktails, ultimately all it does it add empty sugar without the depth or sometimes even right flavour of the fresh variety.
Not using a Strainer
If you are finding little bits of pulp or tiny shards of ice in your cocktails, then you’re not straining them properly. If a drink has been either shaken or stirred, it will always need straining to ensure that those little ‘bit’ doesn’t come through into your finished drink. Especially if you are using fresh juice in your cocktail, its important to adequately strain your drink before serving it.
If your Martinis have a slightly sour flavour to them, there’s a fair chance that your Vermouth has oxidised. vermouth is a fortified wine, so it not only needs to be refrigerated but it also doesn’t have a limitless shelf life. Even in the fridge Vermouth really only taste about six weeks at most. If your Vermouth does oxidise, you don’t need to throw it out, you can use it in your cooking.
If you’ve ever had a bitter taste to your Mojito, then there’s a fair chance you’ve over muddled your mint. Muddling is about releasing the aromatic oils or flavours from either herbs or fruits into your drink. It’s not about pulverising the herb or fruit to oblivion. Mint especially juts needs a few quick pops of the muddler to release its goodness.
Shaking when you should stir
If your Negroni doesn’t have a silky smooth finish, you might be shaking when you should have stirred. There is a misconception that you should shake everything but in reality, if a drink is entirely alcohol, you should always stir. And be careful not to shake or stir too long, after the first few minutes the only results will be that you are further diluting your drink. For more info on stirring, see our guide.
Not using fresh ice
When the aroma and taste of your cocktail are not as sharp as you expected it’s probably because you’re using old ice. If you use ice that’s been sitting in their freezer for some time, then its probably been soaking up the flavours and scents of all the food that’s in the freezer, too. Rather than have your cocktail present the faint aroma of leftover chili, use a little fresh ice.