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Dry January this year has been particularly dry, mainly due to the dine-in and drinking curfew that has left a gaping hole in everyone's happy hour schedules. Chin up—it’s time to replace sad wine nights over glitchy Zoom calls with (still socially distanced, of course) buzzing DIY cocktail sessions. After starting off with a bevvy of classic cocktails, why not elevate your mixology game to the next level? Here are some simple tips to help you become a master mixologist, all of which can be learnt in the comfort of your home sweet home.
All of the various barware over the counter are not simply there for decoration. A good home bar stocks up on the necessary foundational tools that are used by professionals. Look for a quality three-piece cobbler shaker as it can be used to shake as well as strain. A jigger for measuring shots and a julep strainer are also great additions that can help to flesh out more refined flavours with greater precision.
There are no rules that say you cannot use a regular glass for mixing or a long-stemmed spoon for stirring, but a swirly rod and beaker top glass do add to the convenience (and feel about 10 times cooler to use). A bonus tip to keep in mind is that you should try to clean your equipment after and in-between each drink, to ensure that every drink that you serve tastes its best and to keep your toolkit sparkling clean.
It may seem a little contradictory to the first tip, but learning to eyeball after getting used to measured proportions is a step towards becoming more comfortable with cocktail-making. Play around by practising pouring specific amounts of liquids without using special equipment, and see how close you can get to the needed amount by freehand. Learning to bump-pour—pouring a continuous stream from glass to glass, perfect for quickly filling up a line of shot glasses—is bound to make you a popular guest at future post-Covid parties.
To enhance the drinks-making process in itself, you can think of how to arrange all your gear and bottles according to a specific layout, so that you can always have easy access to what you need. This “mise en place” process helps you keep track of your items to not become overwhelmed when venturing into more complex recipes.
As you overcome the beginner’s hump of becoming familiar with the basics of cocktail-making, it’s time to start venturing out into experimental territories. Adjusting the ratio of components can lead to big differences. Through messing around with various combinations, you may even discover a signature drink that is entirely your own!
Get inspired by visiting your local wet market to see what new harvests have to offer. The world is your (prairie) oyster! To reflect seasonal availabilities, light and floral scents tend to be popular in summery drinks, whilst deeper, herbed flavours are typically thought to be enjoyed during colder times.
Part of enjoying a cocktail also lies in its visual presentation. Dig around for interesting glasses to present your mixes in—bonus points if they are vintage glassware or quirky-looking pieces that add character to your bar shelf—then try on different rim garnishes to see which shapes and colours complement each drink.
When it comes to garnishing, a simple procedure to begin with is a citrus twist. Carefully carve out a thin strip around the circumference of a lemon rind using a vegetable peeler or paring knife. Once you have a long ribbon of peel, twist it around until it starts to wind up into a spiral-esque form. Drape the peel horizontally over the rim, or pierce a cocktail pick through the peel and drop it into the glass.
Now that all your wares have been set up, it’s time to bring in the goodies. Using homemade mixers can elevate any sort of beverage—alcoholic or not—to whole new heights. Test out a couple of simple syrup recipes to find your favourite formula, and try infusing them with herbs and fruits for a personalised touch.
Last but not least, rather than adding sugar-laden shop-bought soda waters and tonics to your home cocktail, make your own bubbles! To add a spark of drama to the mixing experience, you’ll need an at-home carbonator or soda maker, and what’s more comfortable and easy-to-use than a portable, battery- and electricity-free AirSoda sparkling water machine? It can recreate the gushing excitement of a countertop soda spray gun and carbonate any flavoured liquids into sparkling water at the press of a button, so you can spend more time dreaming up fanciful mixology combinations for your next great cocktail creation.
Of course, a sparkling water machine or soda maker does not just come in handy for stepping up your home mixology game. If you’re someone who cannot sit still, the portable AirSoda sparkling water machine doubles as a convenient and affordable option for on-the-go carbonation (you can use it at the office, while working out, and even on your hikes!). Meanwhile, for the homebodies who enjoy their bevvies with a bit of sparkle, watch this sleek AirSoda tabletop soda maker become the centrepiece of your kitchen as you become more and more advanced not only in your home mixology skills, but also in your appreciation for homemade sodas.
What’s more, for just $488, you can swap out emptied gas cylinders for two fresh ones sent straight to your door with no extra delivery charge, exclusively with GiftU. Even on days where you feel like going alcohol-free (hungover or not), you will barely have to lift a finger to enjoy a cheeky fizzy!