ALWAYS USE PREMIUM SPIRITS. It is impossible to stress the importance of using premium liquor when mixing drinks.
Your drink can only be as good as the ingredients that you use. Make or buy fresh ice. Don’t use ice that has been sitting in your freezer for the past month. Make sure that you use the correct type of ice. When you blend drinks, start with crushed ice as it blends better. For shaking or stirring a cocktail, use firm ice cubes, as they do not dilute a drink as quickly as crushed ice. For drinks that are on the rocks, you will want to use firm, small ice cubes that will dilute the drink enough to impart flavor. Tropical drinks require crushed ice.
Use fresh squeezed juice. If you don’t have time to squeeze the juice yourself, use premium quality fresh juice (such as orange juice) and use good mixers (such as Rose’s Lime Juice).
Buy yourself a nice set of the tools. A bartender’s tools are as important as a mechanic’s tools. You are going to need a nice jigger, a good quality shaker and stirrer, a muddler, etc.
Buy the basics, even if you only buy a few in each style. Every good bar needs cocktail glasses, Collins glasses, old-fashioned glasses, etc… Buy glassware that can be easily chilled as cocktails are often served in chilled glassware and sometimes warmed to serve a flaming drink. What would a classic martini be if it weren’t served in a chilled cocktail glass?
Buy a selection of liquors. Start small and build with the basics. Once you have the basics, you can start buying specialty liquors. Every good bar needs vodka, whiskey, gin, brandy, and tequila.
Use the right proportions when mixing your drinks. The key to a good drink is the taste. No one wants a drink that tastes bad, regardless of whether you are too generous with the alcohol.
Don’t shake a cocktail too long or allow the drink to sit in its shaker once it has been shaken because the ice will continue to dilute the alcohol. The alcohol will become watery, affecting the taste and appearance of your drink.
When using ingredients that sparkle, such as champagne, sparkling water or club soda water, add them last and stir gently. Never shake an effervescent ingredient unless explicitly directed to do so because the ingredient and the drink will lose its effervescence altering the taste and appearance of the drink.
Shaken or Stirred?
Or perhaps muddled or blended or not at all. Be sure to mix the ingredients in your cocktail well. The ingredients in a cocktail and your own preference dictate whether a cocktail should be shaken or stirred or muddled or layered. When shaking a cocktail, take a look at the ingredients. Mixing cream or heavy ingredients requires extended and vigorous shaking, while mixing lighter ingredients requires less vigor.