Learning how to make your own bar-quality cocktails at home is easier than you think.
The best way to make a great cocktail is to learn about balancing flavors. You can start by making your own lemonade. As you mix your drinks, try them out with a taste test and pay attention to how the ingredients affect the flavor.
Try to use the ingredients to adjust the flavor balance, for example by balancing sour and sweet. At the same time, balance strong and weak alcohols. The main component of the drink is usually a hard alcohol such as vodka, rum, or gin. Many cocktails also contain lesser alcoholic beverages, such as liqueurs or fortified wines, which deepen the flavor.
Try this recipe for Watermelon-Tequila Cocktails.
1/4 cup water
1/4 cup granulated sugar
8 cups diced seedless watermelon (1 pound)
1/4 cup fresh lime juice
1 3/4 cups blueberries
3/4 cup lightly packed fresh mint leaves, plus 8 sprigs for garnish
1 1/4 cups silver tequila
1. In a small saucepan, bring the water to a simmer with the sugar and stir over moderate heat until the sugar is dissolved, about 1 minute; let the sugar syrup cool.
2. In a blender, puree the watermelon until smooth. Set a fine-mesh strainer over a bowl and strain the watermelon juice, pressing gently on the solids to extract as much juice as possible. Discard the pulp.
3. In a large pitcher, combine the sugar syrup with the lime juice, blueberries and mint leaves. Using a wooden spoon, lightly muddle the blueberries and mint. Add the watermelon juice and tequila. Refrigerate until chilled, about 2 hours.
Try this recipe for Mango-Peach Sangria.
1/4 cup mint
1 cup Grand Marnier
2 peaches, cut into thin wedges
1 bottle Viognier
1/3 cup water
1 mango, chopped
1/3 cup sugar
1. In a saucepan, cook the sugar and water until the sugar dissolves; transfer to a pitcher and refrigerate until cold. Stir in the Grand Marnier, Viognier, mango, peaches and mint and serve over ice.
Try this recipe for Sour Cherry-Yuzu Bellinis.
1/2 pound pitted fresh or frozen sour cherries (2 cups)
1/2 cup sugar
4 tablespoons fresh yuzu juice or 2 tablespoons each of fresh tangerine and lime juices
One 750-milliliter bottle plus 2 cups chilled brut Champagne
1. Puree the cherries in a food processor. Pass the puree through a fine strainer set over a small saucepan, pressing on the solids; you should have 1/2 cup of juice. Stir in the sugar and bring to a simmer over moderate heat, stirring to dissolve the sugar. Transfer to a small bowl and refrigerate until chilled, about 15 minutes.
2. In a large pitcher, combine the sweetened cherry juice with the yuzu juice. Slowly pour in the Champagne. Serve the Bellinis over ice.
Most to the tools bartenders use can be found online or substituted with household item. A jigger is a 1/4-1/2 ounce container than can be substituted with a measuring cup. Instead of a cocktail shaker, use a thermos flask. A muddler can be substituted with the end of a wooden spoon. Items like juicers help, but in a pinch you can simply squeeze fruit by hand.