Let me start by saying that I used to know nothing about making fancy cocktails. I'm a thirty-something-year-old who knows their way around the local sports bar. So when it came to whipping up fancy cocktails for my friends, I was convinced I had nothing to offer. But it turns out I was wrong.
My friends were always raving about their favorite bars' ultra-complex gin cocktails with upwards of 10 ingredients that took 10+ minutes to make, and I was determined to show them that I could make something just as good with less than three simple ingredients. After a bit of research to get a basic understanding of "professional" mixology, I came up with an easy technique to make easy and delicious not-so-fancy cocktails.
Here's my amateur bartender cocktail guide:
- Use some of your favorite liquors as a base. I prefer a good lower proof whiskey or bourbon as a base, but you could use vodka, rum, gin or even sake. The most important part is to pick something you like, or your party prefers.
- Add in one or a few of the following: A few dashes of bitters for some spice, soda water, vermouth, and a sprinkle of sugar or an oz of syrup to add sweetness. The initial mixing options are truly endless.
- Next, grab some fresh ingredients. Fresh fruit juices like lime or orange, herbs such as mint or thyme, and even veggies like cucumber and jalapeno peppers can liven up a cocktail and make it more interesting.
- Lastly, garnish your cocktail with something fun. Pickled ginger, espresso beans or a round of orange peel will make your cocktail stand out.
- Most importantly, have fun with it! Mix and match ingredients, and don't be afraid to mix-up something new. You never know what kind of delicious concoction you'll come up with!
One of my favorite recipes with only three ingredients is...
The Gold Rush
2oz American Whiskey or Kentucky Bourbon
1/2oz lemon juice
1/2-3/4oz honey - preference based on level of sweetness
Lemon peel and/or Cinnamon stick for garnish (Optional)
Combine ice, whiskey or bourbon, lemon juice, and honey in a cocktail shaker and shake vigorously for 10-15 seconds. Serve up (neat) or pour over a large ice cube in a rocks glass and garnish with a lemon peel.
So there you have it—my simple guide to impressing your friends with not-so-fancy cocktails. So grab a few bottles of your favorite liquor and some ingredients and start mixing. Or, if you don't feel like mixing, grab a few cold beers, and you won't have to worry about impressing anyone.