Cocktail making can seem a little like magic until you learn the skills. Once you do, you discover that expert bartending is actually more like the work of an illusionist than a magician. We’ve got a few bartender-approved tricks that’ll make you the alcohol magician of your friend group (no, we’re not talking about Jesus), so make sure you read on.

Why do they spank the herbs?

If you’ve ever ordered a cocktail in an overpriced, dimly-lit bar, chances are a vest-and-suspenders-clad bartender has slapped a leaf of mint or basil in front of you. Then, with a straight face, he slipped it into your drink. Beyond the showmanship & surprise, why do they do it? Well, turns out it all comes down to the chlorophyll.

A spank releases aromas, while cutting, twisting, or otherwise damaging the herbs releases chlorophyll, which leads to a muddy flavour. Because the smell is such a big part of taste, the herbal aroma will enhance the overall flavour of the drink.

To bring out the aroma in your herbs (this goes for all herbs such as mint, basil, sage, rosemary, thyme and more), simply place them in your palm then give a good smack. Even better, keep a straight face and don’t tell your friends why you’re doing it to add to the mystique.

How to measure a shot without using a shot glass

I’m sure we’ve all been there. You’re pulling out the gin & soda to serve your friends, but the shot glass is nowhere to be found. ‘I know how much gin goes in a drink’ you may think, but how many times have you ended up like this:

Or like this:

Yeah, that’s what we thought. It’s harder than you think to pour by eyesight alone. Although there is no one standard shot (they usually fluctuate between 30ml and 45ml), there is such a thing as too much or too little alcohol.

Thank God for tried & tested ways to measure out the perfect shot without a standard glass!

3 tbsp. equal a 45ml shot. Don’t have tablespoons? That’s a bit weird, but not a problem. 9 tsp. will also give you a 45ml shot. Got any Solo cups around? The indented bottom part of a standard red Solo cup pours a 30ml shot.

Want to take it to the next level? Few things look cooler than a confident free pour, so if you’d like to learn how, the manual has a great guide.

But also, if you don’t have one, why not just invest in a shot glass or jigger and place it somewhere you’ll remember?

A drink that looks good tastes better

Big ice cubes
The simplest trick to elevating your at-home cocktails is simply investing in a fancy ice cube tray. Big blocks, big spheres, name your pick – just opt out of small ‘fun’ shapes like dolphins and hearts as they melt in a flash. Even better is to plop them in an ice cube bucket, or a container in the freezer before your guests arrive so you don’t have to fumble with the ice tray.

Garnish
When it comes to quick cocktail fixes, a little bit of razzle-dazzle can make any basic two-part mix seem refined. Got some blueberries in the freezer, or a rosemary bush out front? Incorporate it into your drinks! Almost anything can be garnish with a little bit of imagination.

Stock your home bar like a bartender

A well-stocked bar is essential if you’re serious about cocktails. How can you continuously pull new drinks out of your hat if all you’ve got is Absolut and Kahlua? We suggest starting small, then slowly adding to your bar over time until it includes:

Rye Whiskey
Vodka
• Bitters
• Fresh garnishes

With these spirits, you can whip up a wide range of great-tasting cocktails. If there’s any of the above that you don’t like, simply don’t include them. This is your bar after all.

Continue learning

Awe-inspiring bartending is all about being one step ahead of the competition, so evolving is key. If you incorporate the above tricks and your bar is bulking out, it’s time to start investing in some exotic bitters and tonics, or looking up new methods to wow yourself and your friends!

Is your home bar missing essentials for tonight? Or perhaps you’d rather kick back, skip the mixing, and keep it simple with your favourite beer? Good thing Tipple delivers!

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