Cocktails at home


Creativity is something Jaz knows a fair bit about – after graduating from AUT’s graphic design school, she’s since worked all over the world, including stints in New York, San Francisco, Spain and the Caribbean. She’s spent years on luxury yachts – becoming chief stewardess –  and behind some of the world’s best bars, and was a finalist in the Diageo World Class global bartending competition in 2015. Jaz was Seedlip’s New Zealand brand ambassador for several years and still works closely with the brand, alongside developing her new creative event space and studio, Studio Rumain Orewa, Auckland. Below in her blog she shares her tips and tricks for making great cocktails at home.  

We kiwis like to think we are kings and queens of hosting BBQ’s, delicious marinated & rubbed cuts of meat, gourmet sausages, fancy salads, condiments galore … you get my drift.

However, we seem to lack the drinks expertise for recreating our favourite cocktails at home, spending all of our energy on the food offering and less on beverages; let’s be frank, chilled sav and beers in the fridge are the general go-to.

I am going to share a few tips and tricks on ways to up-skill and become the at-home bartender you were born to be!

Most of us have a kitchen full of random tools and ingredients which we have never dreamed of using to make cocktails. Stay with me, let’s open those drawers and cupboards and get creative.

COCKTAIL EQUIPMENT


There are some exceptionally beautiful bar tools around, I myself am a sucker for the beautiful rose gold bar equipment which has travelled the world with me. However, I am also known to shake up a big batch of cocktails in a Tupperware container at friends’ homes with just as much success. Here are a few inventive ways you can make professional drinks from your own kitchen, now.

Cocktail Shaker

Switch for a protein shaker, mason jar, Tupperware, or anything large enough that has a decent airtight seal.

The shaking of certain cocktails is crucial in many recipes. First of all, shaking mixes ingredients together, it bonds the different densities of liquids so you don’t get a mouthful of thick syrup for example. It helps to add dilution to a cocktail, often you don’t realise this but shaking should add an extra 25% liquid to your drink. Shaking also aerates the liquid,  creating a foam and light texture which is needed to provide many drinks with this fluffy quality. Lastly, shaking chills a drink, and we all love an ice-cold cocktail.

Jigger (AKA fancy measuring device used by bartenders)

Switch for a medicine cup, shot glass, kitchen measuring spoons to name a few.

A faux pas by many ‘home bartenders’ is the confidence in not measuring. When you are working with liquid and small a vessel, measuring every ingredient is key. The difference between 5ml of lemon juice, for example, can render a drink very sour. Please measure and follow a recipe for the best results and you’ll find your guests swooning (not literally) over your delicious, well-balanced drinks. Most recipes will use increments of 5ml to 100ml. A standard measure is 25ml and a double is 50ml.

Strainer

Switch for a pasta spoon, fine strainer, tea pod.

My pet peeve of bars globally is having “bits” in my cocktail. I love a minty mojito as much as the next person, but I do not want tiny flecks of green laced in my teeth for the night – only to get home and realise that after multiple conversations, nobody pointed it out.

So please do me, and yourself a favour and strain!

ICE ICE BABY


One of the most overlooked ingredients in a cocktail is the ice. Used for both dilution and keeping drinks cold, it is a key component of an excellent cocktail.

There are so many kinds of ice if you want to geek out about it, but my main tip is – MORE is more. I can’t stress enough the importance of lots of ice in a glass. There is nothing worse than having a delicious highball drink with two measly ice cubes that melt in 3.8 seconds leaving you with a lukewarm cocktail in hand for the next 30 minutes.

Here are some ideas for you to up your ice game:

Invest in decent ice trays. You can get some very striking ice trays these days. Some will create spheres of ice. Perfect to sip whiskey. Others are large format cubes which are my personal favourite for margaritas on the rocks. (Cook & Nelson sell this Sphere ice Mould tray and you will find plenty of other options to choose from online).

If you really want to show off, you can freeze flowers into the ice cubes for some stunning visuals to be bobbing around in your cocktail. Please just ensure you use edible flowers.

A few cocktails work really well with crushed ice, and I don’t know about you but none of my friends are fancy enough to have an ice crusher. So, we can revert to the trusty Lewis Bag, used for decades as a quick method to crush ice for mint juleps, cobblers, mai tais and more. Essentially this is a sturdy bag with a flap that you pack with ice cubes and use a wooden mallet to pound the bag. Also, ideal stress relief! You can invest in the real deal which is a triple seamed canvas bag, or get creative using a CLEAN canvas tote bag and wooden rolling pin.

GARNISH


It’s true you taste with your eyes first. Say you get handed a tall glass with two cubes of ice filled to the top with liquid and a dry slice of lime, browning at the edges. Before you take a sip, you will have decided that this drink is average. On the other hand, you get given a tall glass full to the brim with large chunks of ice, there is a fresh stem of mint and juicy wedge of lime beside a bamboo straw … this one is going to be a banger!

Prepare garnishes in advance where possible, if you have your mise en place ready prior to guests walking the door it’s a breeze.

Simple ways to garnish are having fresh herbs from your garden cut and in a glass of water at the bar or in the fridge. Have citrus cut into wedges or wheels and in an airtight container.

Use other ingredients to garnish your cocktails, dehydrated citrus is always a winning way to decorate your cocktails, or if you want a feminine touch why not dried florals or some fresh edible flowers. A quick Pinterest search will give you a plethora of garnishing ideas and techniques.

Don’t forget that aroma plays a big role in this also, as we also taste by smell. Small tricks like putting a sprig of mint beside your straw allows you to inhale the mint while taking a sip.

Another one you will have seen bartenders do time and again is squeezing the oils from the citrus skins. This is a burst of aroma that will spray over the top of a cocktail if you direct it accordingly. If you are serving a drink in a stemmed glass, a quick rub of this broken citrus skin on the stem will leave a tasty residue which will transfer to the fingers and add more aroma and lead to more sipping!

GLASSWARE


Now, I can tell you that I am no expert in glassware, I feel like each country and culture has more to share … but here’s’ a 101 guide.

Highball

Tall and narrow, highball tumblers are compatible with all sorts of libations, namely high cocktails such as Gin & tonic and Rum and Coke. Bartenders often build the drinks served in highball glasses directly inside the glass. Remember, the more ice the better.

Lowball

Also known as an old fashioned glass, lowball glasses are a shorter version of the highball glass and are often used for serving spirits such as bourbon. With a wide and sturdy base, lowball glasses are ideal for muddling non-liquid ingredients—think mint and other herbs—with the main liquid ingredients of the cocktail.

Martini Glasses

A stemmed cocktail glass defined by its V-shaped, conical bowl. The Martini glass was made famous by its namesake cocktail, the Martini, though it can be used for any cocktail that is served up. (Without ice). The wide mouth of the glass is intended to allow the aromas of gin botanicals to escape and float up, enticing the drinker to another sip.

Coupe Glasses

Coupe glasses are stemmed, and typically defined by their broad, shallow saucer. They’re exclusively used for serving “up” drinks, meaning cocktails that are shaken or stirred until chilled and served without ice (as opposed to “on the rocks”). Like the Martini Glass the stem prevents your hand from warming it up too quickly.

Copper Mugs & Julep Tins

Long associated with Moscow mules and Mint juleps, copper & stainless vessels are known for their ability to instantly turn (and remain) cold—insulating the drink being served.

Copper mugs typically feature a handle that minimizes heat transfer, whether enjoying an adult beverage or something non-alcoholic, such as iced tea, water and other chilled beverages. Julep tins which were made popular by the Kentucky Derby, are usually made of silver or pewter and are sought after as a souvenir.

Nick & Nora

Named after Nick and Nora Charles, the main characters in the 1934 timeless thriller, The Thin Man. It features a bell-shaped bowl that sits on top of a long stem—slightly resembling the design of a white wine glass. Nick and Nora glasses are most commonly used to serve drinks that are shaken or stirred. They are also used to serve any beverage that’s otherwise served in a martini glass.

Rocks Glasses

Short, broad and sturdy, rock glasses are used to serve spirits over ice, as well as distilled spirits and sweet drinks that are overwhelming in large quantities. Oftentimes, the drinks served from rocks glasses are built directly inside—making it easy to layer the different flavours with ice and liquor. Heaving the hand, there is something quite special about sipping from a rocks glass.

This is just the tip of the iceberg (excuse the pun) when it comes to glassware, but hopefully you will know not to serve a double pour of scotch into a Martini glass with ice now.

RECIPES

ESPRESSO MARTINI

  • 50ml Vodka
  • 45ml Espresso/Cold Brew
  • 25ml Coffee Liqueur
  • 10ml Simple Syrup
  • Chill Martini Glass

Add all ingredients into a shaker

Shake vigorously

Strain into chilled glass

Garnish with 2-3 coffee beans or grated chocolate

To make low ABV, switch Vodka for Seedlip Spice 94.

BLOODY MARY

  • 50ml Vodka
  • 125ml Tomato & Vegetable Juice
  • 10ml Fresh Lemon Juice
  • 3 Dashes of Hot Sauce
  • 3 Dashes of Celery Bitters
  • 3 Dashes of Worcestershire Sauce

Rim glass with salt & pepper or with celery salt

Build over ice & use bar spoon to mix

Garnish with celery stalk, lemon or a cherry tomato

As a non-alcoholic option, switch Vodka for Seedlip Garden 108.

COSMOPOLITAN

  • 50ml Vodka
  • 10ml Triple Sec
  • 30ml Cranberry Juice
  • 10ml Fresh Lime
  • Chill martini glass or coupe

Add all ingredients into shaker & shake

Strain into glass

Garnish with an orange zest twist

*Famous from Sex & the City, and also to flame an orange peel.

Delicious as a low ABV cocktail, simple change out the vodka for Seedlip Grove 42.

SOUTHSIDE

  • 50ml Gin
  • 20ml Fresh Lime
  • 20ml Simple Syrup
  • 8 Fresh Mint Leaves
  • Soda

Shake Gin, Lime, Syrup and Mint leaves

Double strain over ice into a tall glass

Top with soda

Garnish with mint and citrus

Switch the gin for Seedlip Garden 108 as a refreshing non-alcoholic version.

NEGRONI

  • 30ml Gin
  • 30ml Sweet Vermouth
  • 30ml Campari

Add all ingredients into a mixing glass

Stir for 20-30 seconds with plenty of ice

Julep strain over a short glass of ice

Garnish with orange zest

TOMMY’S MARGARITA

  • 50ml Tequila
  • 25ml Agave Nectar
  • 25ml Fresh Lime Juice

Rim ½ glass with lime juice & salt

Shake and strain into a glass with ice  & garnish with lime

Simply switch the Tequila for Seedlip Grove 42 if you would like a 0% cocktail.

PALOMA

  • 50ml Tequila
  • 15ml Fresh lime juice
  • 50ml Grapefruit Juice
  • Soda

Fill a tall glass with plenty of ice

Add Tequila, lime & grapefruit. Stir.

Top with soda

Garnish with lime or grapefruit

CLASSIC DAIQUIRI

  • 50ml White Rum
  • 25ml Sugar Syrup
  • 25ml Lime Juice

Shake & strain into chilled glass

Garnish with lime or a sugar rim

As a non-alcoholic option, switch Rum for Seedlip Spice 94.

MOJITO

  • 50ml White Rum
  • 25ml Lime Juice (or ½ a lime cut into pieces)
  • 25ml Sugar Syrup
  • 8-10 Mint Leaves
  • Soda

Add Rum, Lime, Sugar and mint into tall glass

Muddle

Add Ice and stir

Top with Soda

Garnish with fresh mint bundle

*Add ginger beer instead of soda for a spicy twist

As a non-alcoholic option, switch Rum for Seedlip Garden 108.

OLD FASHIONED

  • 60ml Dark Rum or Whiskey
  • 5ml Sugar Syrup
  • Dash of Bitters

Stir & strain into chilled glass

Garnish with orange zest

Well, you’ve made it to the end, and perhaps you are now 3 cocktails deep. Or about to start a search online for new glassware or ice trays.

Enjoy the magic of creating delicious drinks at home whether it be for yourself or for guests! We’ve love to see your creations, share your journey and make sure you tag @roamingcreative and @cookandnelson.

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