We have seen a resurgence in the food and drinks scene over the last few years, with specialised festivals popping up all over the place. Consumers are after artisan creations, homegrown produce and quality beverages. When it comes to the drink side of things, we know a thing or two at Lyme Bay: the English wine industry is thriving, and the UK has rediscovered a love for gin, which we are happy to contribute to with our new range of Devon gins.
There is no denying that one of the best ways to enjoy a gin is in a cocktail. Cocktail bars are once again becoming increasingly popular, so it makes sense to bring the trend home to impress family and friends at laid back barbeques or fancy dinner parties. A home cocktail bar is what any drink connoisseur should have, and they are simpler to set up than you think!
The first step is to invest in some bar tools and equipment, to sort and mix the ingredients of your cocktails. The number one item is a cocktail shaker and there are two types, a cobbler and Boston shaker. The cobbler is also known as a three-piece shaker as it has an in-built strainer and has a smaller volume than a Boston shaker – better for single drinks. Boston shakers are preferred by professional bartenders and mixologists and consist of two parts, a metal cup and slightly smaller mixing glass. Using a Boston shaker requires a separate cocktail strainer, which is needed to stop the pulp and ice ending up in the cocktail.
Free-pouring measures may sound like fun, but you don’t want your bottle of gin to be gone after one night! Get a jigger – a double-ended measuring device – so you can be consistent with every drink, ensuring perfection each time. It takes practice in being able to carefully pour out 25ml or 50ml measures freehand!
Other bar tools that come in handy include a long-handled bar spoon for mixing drinks and muddlers to mash up ingredients. If your interest in mixology increases, you’ll need a quality blender for crushing ice for making daiquiris and mojitos. Once you have the right equipment, you can dazzle guests with the delicious cocktails you serve them.
When you whip up a classic cocktail, you’ll want to serve it in the right glass! It can be a little overwhelming when it comes to buying them as there are so many shapes and sizes available! But to take your love for cocktails seriously, the right glasses are a must. To make it easier, however, there are four types of glasses to get: stemmed glasses, old fashioned or lowball glasses, highball glasses and champagne flutes.
If you are unsure about the right glass to serve a cocktail in, there are some rules to follow. Use a stemmed glass when serving a shaken or stirred drink with no ice in the glass. You can use a lowball glass when the drink is being made in the glass and you are not using a shaker. When making cold cocktails served over ice, use a highball glass.
There are also a few different stemmed glasses to consider too. The iconic V-shaped glass, known as a martini glass, is the glass for martinis and cosmopolitans. The coupe glass, which started out as a champagne glass, has curved sides and is suitable for any other cocktail – within the rules laid out above!
A delicious cocktail can’t be made without the right ingredients, and while it can be an expensive hobby to have, being able to make all sorts of fantastic cocktails and mocktails is a talent to be jealous of. Starting with the spirits, it is best to buy the ones you want to make drinks with and build from there. Necessary spirits include gin, vodka and rum. From there you can expand with bourbon, vermouth, Cointreau, tequila, scotch, brandy, whiskey and Kahlua. You may then want to increase your selection with some liqueurs and cordials, for some delightful flavours.
Next comes the mixers, because it is unlikely you will be drinking any of the spirits straight! Get some tonic water, lemonade, lime and lemon juice, orange juice, sparkling water, cranberry juice and ginger ale. You might also need bitters; an ingredient which sets off many cocktails!
Don’t forget about the ice either! Ice cubes from the tray are good when not very prepared, but a bag of ice from the supermarket is preferred.
Finally, before serving your drinks you need to add a little flair with garnishes. Simple ones include oranges, lemons and limes that you twist or flame, stuffed olives and maraschino cherries. For fruity drinks, why not add a kebab full of tropical fruits? Alternatively, you can look at non-edible garnishes, including umbrellas and swizzle sticks. Once the garnish is carefully in place, you are ready to wow with a homemade cocktail.