Whether you want to add more personality to your parties or savor your favorite cocktails in the comfort of your own house, the fact is it’s actually pretty easy. Devraj Moktan and Abhijeet KC at Le Mirch in LABIM mall, Patan, vouch for it. They work the days keeping the bar at the restaurant and claim, if you are interested in mixology, it’s actually pretty easy to start.
Here, with The Week, they share their recipes as well as expertise on basic bartending and help you set up your personal station.
Picking the right tools
We know a well-equipped bar has the right kind of glasses, plenty of ice and some tongs but what else? Here is a basic checklist.
Jiggers are designed specifically to measure drinks. They are small with two cups at their ends. Trying to make cocktails without a jigger would be like trying to bake without a measuring cup. Memorizing cocktail recipes alone doesn’t guarantee a good drink, you have to get the portions right as well and this is where a jigger comes in handy.
For some, this is where the showmanship kicks in but we assure you mixing your drinks well in a shaker is a necessity as well. When you shake a cocktail, it brings out the right flavors.
Using normal kitchen spoons to mix drinks isn’t cool. And it isn’t only about style either, this can end up being awkward as well. Thus, we recommend bar spoons. These spoons are long, thin and made for stirring drinks. Some bartenders also use it to measure some of the small components of the drinks.
Strainers are mostly used to make sure the ice you have used to mix and shake doesn’t end up in your drink.
As is the case with all margaritas, we begin by rubbing the rim of the glass with salt. It may look tricky but actually all you need to do is rub the rim of the glass with some lemon first and then turn the glass upside down and dip it in a shallow bowl of salt.
Next, we mix the alcohol. 45ml of tequila, 15ml of cointreau and 10 ml of lemon juice will do.
You can add blue curacao before shaking it. Once you shake it, use a strainer to pour it into your glass.
Tip: If you are not satisfied with the color of your blue margarita, don’t hesitate to add in some curacao even after you have poured the drink into your glass. This doesn’t significantly alter the taste of your margarita.
Cosmopolitans also require a chilled glass so once again, fill your glass with some ice and set it aside.
The alcohol base here is vodka, so we will put in 60ml of vodka, followed by 45ml of cranberry juice.
The sweetness of cointreau also complements cosmopolitans so you can add around 15ml of that as well.
Le Mirch apparently customizes their cosmos with a dash of lemon juice and sprite. If you want to experiment, you can do the same.
Next we fill the shaker with ice and shake the mixture.
Tip: After pouring the drink, Moktan likes to squeeze a drop or two of orange peel for an instant hit of refreshing flavor.
First, fill your glass with ice.
Pour 60ml of tequila.
Then top off with orange juice.
Add 10ml of grenadine syrup for a bit of color and sweetness.
Stir and garnish. Lemon works best.
Tip: Whenever you are mixing fruit juices with alcohol, Moktan believes it’s best if you put in the alcohol first. Doing it the other way around apparently alters the taste of the cocktail.
This drink requires a chilled glass so before you begin mixing the drink, fill the glass you will be using with ice and set it aside.
Take a shaker, put some ice in it and then, pour in 60ml of bourbon whisky. You can use a brand of your choice.
Next, we add 15ml of martini vermont, followed by one bar spoon of Angostura. Then shake it for a couple of seconds.
Once done, take the ice out of your glass and pour in your drink.
Tip: There aren’t any particular instructions to the amount of time a drink needs to be shaken, Moktan says, you can feel a chill spread across the surface of the shaker and you can stop when it becomes frostier. You don’t have to melt all the ice cubes in the shaker.
All that’s required here is 90ml of orange juice and 60ml of pineapple juice.
Pour it into a blender with some ice and blend.
After pouring the mixture into a glass, add a dash of grenadine for some color.
Jungle all the way
We begin with 30ml of apple, 80ml of pineapple and 50ml of cranberry juice.
This drink also requires one egg white.
First, we shake the mixture of the juices and egg whites without ice and then, later, again with ice. This helps bring out the foam in the drink giving it an exotic appeal.
Adding flavors to your cocktail cabinet
We are talking about the likes of flavor syrups and bitters here. If you are completely new to mixology, chances are you haven’t heard of these but they are crucial to fixing a good drink. Indeed alcohol and juices aren’t the only major components in a cocktail so it is best you acquaint yourself with these as well.
Moktan at Le Mirch gave us a peek into their flavor infusers. Below are some of the basics that he believes can help you build your personal bar.
Triple sec is a liquor famous for its subtle sweet orange flavor. It is believed to be a combination of sun dried orange peels with triple distilled alcohol. So it is sweet and strong at the same time. From Long Island Iced Teas to Kamikaze shooters, it is used in many basic cocktails.
Cointreau has been described as the top brand of triple sec. You even could sip it on its own. It’s favored for the same orange flavor, but Cointreau has “the cleanest essence of pure orange flavor.” This is what the bar manager believes. Thus you will find it being used in many of the oldest and well-known classics.
You don’t even have to be someone who enjoys alcoholic drinks to have Grenadine in your home. The sweet-tarty syrup seems to be used widely in both cocktails and mocktails. Grenadine is made of pomegranate juice and sugar and has a deep magenta color that adds to not only the taste but also the presentation of the drink you are making. You might want to pay attention to the brand of Grenadine you are picking because the syrup’s flavor may differ accordingly.
Onto the bitters of the cocktail world and we have Angostura. It is one of the most commonly used infusers and for good reasons. Bitters are known to drastically change the flavor profile of alcohol and Angostura can help add that delicious depth of spice to your cocktail.
This is that blue liqueur that makes your drink look oh-so-pretty. Curacao can make any cocktail or shooter look visually striking. Add to that, it also has a citrus flavor to it which is why colored drinks taste so refreshing.