How do I become a better cocktail maker?
April 2, 2012 4:46 PM   Subscribe

How do I become a better mixologist/cocktail guru?

This question sort of has two thrusts. The first is how do I get better at making the standard cocktails? The second is how do I get better at creating new things from a shelf of booze?

The longer version: I'm a pretty good cook. I cook from a recipe pretty well, and I make up shit on the fly pretty well. Unfortunately, I've never had the same touch for cocktails. For example, I made a sazerac tonight, and it ended up being too boozy and then too sweet, because I think I messed up combining the 3 ingredients (I'm that inept, apparently).

For some reason, the same "do it again, learn your flavors" thing isn't working for me for cocktails. Even following the exact proportions from various guides, things still don't taste right. It's always too something.

What were your tricks? How did you learn? I'm not looking to make drinks for 100, but I'd like to make drinks for my friends that don't get that look. I've got good ingredients and a well-stocked bar with the right things. I think it's me.

The second part is how to improvise - like I said, with cooking, I can come up with new things with various ingredients. With cocktails, I never quite make it right. People ask me to come up with new things at their houses, because I say I like cocktails, and I freeze up, because I'm just not sure how to match it all up. How did you get comfortable with this? Just making drinks over and over?

I know practice makes perfect, but I'm still hitting a wall on this. How do you take the next step and get past the old Rum + Coke combo and gain the skill to make and perfect the "real" drinks?
posted by SNWidget to Food & Drink (29 answers total) 28 users marked this as a favorite
Here's an important much do you drink? And another important question...what do you drink? It could be the case that you need to drink more (and in greater variety). You eat everyday, more than once a day; and I am certain you are eating all kinds of different flavors. Thus, you learn what tastes good, what goes with what, etc. Treat drinking the same way.
posted by AlliKat75 at 4:55 PM on April 2, 2012

Response by poster: I need to drink more - never thought I'd say that. More specifically, I need to drink more cocktails at home. I always order fun stuff when I'm out, but I can never really recreate the standards at home.

Tonight I've made a Sazerac and a Corpse Reviver No 2 - the sazerac was poorly mixed, and the Corpse Reviver had too much absinthe. Guess I just need to try these every night to perfect them, yeah?
posted by SNWidget at 5:00 PM on April 2, 2012

I am always a proponent of imbibing on a regular basis. You should definitely keep trying the fun stuff when you are out. If you happen to be a regular at a certain spot, start politely asking questions - don't do this when it is busy, or you will soon have made an enemy out of the bartender. But, if it's dead, and the bartender is willing, ask some questions. Good tipping will help this process. Also, maybe you are using a recipe book that is just not up to standard.
posted by AlliKat75 at 5:05 PM on April 2, 2012

Booze blogs are your friend. Read more about the basics and principles, and then you'll gain the confidence you have with cooking to adapt when ingredients seem out of proportion. The Ace Saloon has a good series on setting up a home bar, and he links to most of the other major cocktail blogs.
posted by judith at 5:06 PM on April 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

You must use high-quality ingredients. With cooking, part of the point is that you can come up with great food by mixing cheap basic ingredients into a freshly-made feast that's better than you can get at most restaurants. It's sort of the same with cocktails, in that it's cheaper to buy in bulk than to go to the bar, but there is no magic available to turn cheap booze into anything good. A margarita with cheap sour blend tastes like tequila kool-aid; a martini with cheap gin is simply foul. So, use good ingredients. If you are at a friend's house and all they have is cheap stuff, cover it up with mixers.

As for your friends giving you "that look," are you sure the cocktails you're attempting are within their range of expectations? I ask because you said you made your sazerac "too boozy"; that's an odd complaint because a sazerac is like 85% hard liquor! There is hardly a boozier drink out there - if you don't like that, then you don't like sazeracs. Which is fine, but you need to recognize that incompatibility and offer something different and not as strong.
posted by Joey Buttafoucault at 5:08 PM on April 2, 2012

1) Follow recipes exactly. It's like baking. I love this measuring cup.
2) Go to a site like Kindred Cocktails or CocktailDB to find other drinks similar to the ones you've already made, so you can learn how different ingredients work and what the general drink templates are.
3) Once you've gotten good at making those cocktails, try varying things slightly using the information you've picked up in step 2.
posted by dfan at 5:09 PM on April 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

If you can tell by tasting your own cocktails what you have done wrong, you are already mostly there. From here on out, practice more-- think of how many dishes you had to salt to be able to salt by hand. And taste more-- I regularly sip my cocktails out of the shaker before pouring them to see if they need a minor course correction. Even experienced bartenders do this. I've been to excellent cocktail bars where the bartender tasted a drink he was about to send out, then modified it, or even threw it away and started over.
posted by willbaude at 5:11 PM on April 2, 2012 [3 favorites]

Response by poster: So, use good ingredients. If you are at a friend's house and all they have is cheap stuff, cover it up with mixers.

Good ingredients, I have. Or, as good as I'm going to get for now. Middle to top shelf for everything.

As for your friends giving you "that look," are you sure the cocktails you're attempting are within their range of expectations?

This may be the issue as well. I love boozy rye/bourbon drinks, but my friends are generally light booze drinkers. I keep trying to get them to like my dark drinks, but that may be just a general incompatibility.

Then again, I had a friend complain that her gin and tonic was too boozy, and it tasted just right for me. In cooking, I can sort of salt and season to the middle, and it tends to be right. I feel like mixing involves greater variation from person to person.
posted by SNWidget at 5:12 PM on April 2, 2012

Seconding that Sazeracs are supposed to be boozy. Also, I LOVE the measuring cup that dfan linked to. Love it. Measuring exactly will help.

Also, try this book: Speakeasy: The Employees Only Guide to Classic Cocktails Reimagined. It's from a great cocktail bar here in NYC and they give some good tips on tools, garnishes, and other stuff to help make the details come together for great cocktails.

But really, practice is what you need. Make cocktails for yourself. Recruit friends to test recipes as you are perfecting them. That's what I do. Friends get free booze and I get feedback, so everyone wins.
posted by bedhead at 5:16 PM on April 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

Ah, and since the sazerac seems to be a thing for you, here is one really delicious way to do it.

In a mixing glass, add a sugar cube and enough Peychaud's so that it smashes easily with a spoon - like 10+ dashes. Completely mush up the cube. Add the 2 oz. rye or bourbon (I really like Bulleit), still warm, and completely mix in the sugar. Once the sugar is dissolved, toss in your ice cube or two. Stir and let it sit. Meanwhile, in the serving glass (preferably chilled, but it's not a big deal), add 1/4 oz absinthe. This is actually the most important ingredient; you should get a bottle of St. George if you're going to be using it much, though I acknowledge that is over the top for most people. Swirl it around to coat the inside of the glass and then pour it out - down the sink (or into the next glass if you're making two). Shake or stir the iced cocktail one last time and strain into the prepared glass.

Also quit trying to make anything else with absinthe for a while. It's a very hard ingredient to use. Even most people who think it sounds like a good idea don't actually end up liking it much.
posted by Joey Buttafoucault at 5:17 PM on April 2, 2012

There are a couple of ways you can hone your taste and skills. There's no reason why you can't employ both methods simultaneously.

The Obsessive Method
1. Order the same drink at every place you go for. Try to go classic; I started with Old Fashioneds. If you can, watch the bartender make it, and keep an eye on how they measure things. That's how I found out that I want twice as much bitters as most bartenders use.
1a. Make that drink at home, again and again and again. Sometimes you can weasel the proportions out of the bartender; sometimes they'll make it really slowly in front of you. Otherwise, I usually head to the internet. For most classic drinks, there's some diehard who has put together a compendium of recipes and then declared one definitive recipe. Try that one. There are also great books on cocktails; I'll look up the one I have when I get home.

The Fun Method
2. Drink more straight alcohol at home, to get a real taste for it. I mix mine with seltzer or water; I think it's easier to pick out the flavors that way. Again, pick one family of liquor and try to try a variety of brands within that family.
2a. Start building up cocktails. Let's say you started with rye whiskey. You try a bunch of kinds and find that this one's sweeter; this one's spicier; this one I like the best for just drinking. Start tasting liqueurs and other flavorings (I mix these with seltzer too, usually.) Start experimenting: hey, I wonder what rye whiskey tastes like with vermouth; OH HAI this is awesome. And continue onward.

There is a basic recipe for cocktails; it's either 3:2:1 or 2:2:1, depending on who you ask - 3 parts core liquor to 2 parts complementary ingredient to 1 part highlight ingredient. This definitely doesn't hold true all the time, but it's a good starting place and easy to remember.

Oh, and take notes. I scribble notes to myself when I have a drink I like or one that has an ingredient that I want to try out. For your at-home adventures, write down each of your attempted drinks, and your thoughts on them. Basically, treat this like a science experiment, and learn from your mistakes.
posted by punchtothehead at 5:17 PM on April 2, 2012 [2 favorites]

The best piece of cocktail technique advice I've ever received:
If all the ingredients are alcohol (or bitters), stir.
If you have juices or anything else in there, shake.
That will get you pretty far in itself. And yes, practice practice practice! Throw some cocktail parties.
posted by fiercecupcake at 5:19 PM on April 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

Sorry, to follow up: there's a parallel between cooking and drink-making. Recipes are easy to follow, once you understand the terminology and the techniques. But, you take the leap to being a cook when you absorb a lifetime of eating and making food and start to create things on your own - when you don't need recipes because you know how food works.

I think the same principle applies to drinks. It's one thing to know how to make a drink; it's another to know why it works the way it does and how you can modify a drink to appeal to different palates/use different ingredients/suit the season. By building a foundation of knowledge, you'll have the confidence and practice to create or modify drinks for palates other than your own.
posted by punchtothehead at 5:29 PM on April 2, 2012 [2 favorites]

Response by poster: I scribble notes to myself when I have a drink I like or one that has an ingredient that I want to try out. For your at-home adventures, write down each of your attempted drinks, and your thoughts on them. Basically, treat this like a science experiment, and learn from your mistakes.

That's tomorrow night, I guess. I just nabbed a bottle of Root liquor because my favorite local cocktail joint makes a delicious drink with that, bourbon, and a little bitters. I'm not sure about the proportions, but I guess I'll happily drink my mistakes.
posted by SNWidget at 5:29 PM on April 2, 2012

More than with cooking, I tend to mix drinks for people based on what I think they will like, not necessarily things that I will like. One friend gets ridiculous sweet things like Sprite + St. Germain; another gets gin and tonics with fancy, extra bitter tonic water. When I don't know people, I tend to mix drinks that are sweet but not like candy - most people prefer things that are smooth and a little sweet over things that are boozy.

A few drinks I've made that no one has disliked:
Elderflower Gimlet : 2 parts gin, 1-1.5 parts St. Germain, 1 part fresh lime juice
Fresh strawberry juice + light rum + a squeeze of lime + a bit of seltzer water
posted by asphericalcow at 5:40 PM on April 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

Mixing cocktails well is hard and not a lot like regular cooking. The flavor combinations are complex and specific and it's far too easy to screw something up. The classic proportion for many American cocktails is 2 parts booze, 1 sour, 1 sweet, but the details of the sweet, the choices of herbal flavorings, etc all make things subtle.

Start with a good book on classic cocktails. My favorite is still Paul Harrington's book which is sadly out of print; if you're patient you can still find shreds of his old Wired cocktail site via the Wayback Machine. Some other good books are Imbibe! and American Bar. Read their background on what makes a cocktail, then make the recipes exactly. You'll learn quickly.

Focus on making a few specific classic drinks. For me my touchstones in cocktails are the Manhattan, Negroni, and Aviation: learning to make those three gave me a sense for the general balance of cocktails.
posted by Nelson at 5:50 PM on April 2, 2012

nthing all of the above suggestions (except that drink recipes are hard and fast). find out what's in your fave drink and remake it at home over and over. as a good cook, you learn to taste - it's the same with mixology. also, light booze drinkers will NEVER take to rye/bourbon drinks, so that's pretty much a lost cause. and, take into consideration that ppl have very varied tastes: my lil' brother drinks room temp gin neat, which i could never deal with! although, i love a good, dry gin. find a few fave recipes and adjust as necessary. booze blogs can be an inspiration, but usually it's some pompous metro centered bartender who thinks he just rediscovered the rusty nail. one blog i do appreciate is focused on a minimalist approach.
posted by ps_im_awesome at 5:50 PM on April 2, 2012
posted by mantid at 6:14 PM on April 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

Cocktails are closer to baking than cooking. That said, once you notice the similar proportions behind many classic cocktail recipes, you'll have an easy time "playing at substitutions" and then developing your own recipes.

There are only a few very important things to mixing cocktails:
1- use more than enough ice
2- measure everything
3- quality ingredients you like
4- (this goes without saying) mix the drinks you like

When you look at the mixing glass (a standard pint glass is fine if you're stirring) that has the 3-4oz of various booze in it, you want to pretty much fill it with ice. Then you stir. You'll notice that as the cocktail melts the ice , the level of liquid should almost meet the level of ice, but the ice should never float.

Your target is a dilution of almost 30% water. If you want, pre-mix all of that at room temp (all the alcohol, then 30% water), throw it in a bottle in the fridge, then pour yourself a drink.

Get a good jigger. That OXO slant-measure (which dfan recommends) is a really nice piece of equipment. I use two jiggers myself: a 3/4 to 1/2 ounce and a 1 1/2 to 1 ounce. Many bartenders also keep a 2 to 1 ounce jigger handy, but I don't need the speed in my home bar.

It is really important to start with good liquor. As a rule (avoid anything packaged in plastic, and) don't mix with anything you wouldn't drink straight (similar to choosing cooking wine or sherry). But there is no need to mix super-expensive sold-as ultra-premium brand boozahol. Declare a desired price point for your standard base spirits, and seek out a good liquor at that price. For me, that's $30-40 per 750mL, and I stock (in Oregon, where the price per bottle of anything is a little more expensive due to state-controlled liquor distribution) Buffalo Trace Bourbon, Bulleit Rye Whiskey, Beefeater Gin, Espalon Tequila.

Figure out what cocktails you like. Start with those, mix them every three-five days. Play the measurements of the ingredients by 1/4oz to teach yourself what notes each ingredient contributes.

Then buy something you might not. I'd recommend Campari, or Aperol, or Benedictine (you must already have Cointreau). Taste it, and mix drinks that use it. Work halfway through that bottle of modifier, learn what it's about. And then something else, and switch up your base spirits.

Some good references for recipes and history&theory are
- Paul Harrington's book (mentioned by Nelson, above)
- Cocktail Chronicles, by Paul Clarke is a really good blog. He doesn't update too often (he's writing for Imbibe now), so read it in archives.
- Savoy Stomp, by Erik Ellestad is a useful catalog. He has mixed nearly every drink in the Savoy Cocktail Book, and gives an updated recipe and a comment on each one.

And go talk with bartenders. AlliKat75 is right: choose a quiet night, go to a good bar (Anvil Bar & Refuge, if you can get to Houston), and order a drink on the menu and converse with the bartender about it. Then ask them to mix you something else. And inquire about that.
posted by Prince_of_Cups at 7:20 PM on April 2, 2012 [4 favorites]

oh, right

Buy good vermouth. Pretty much nothing under $10 a bottle, and try to purchase it at a place that has healthy turnover in vermouth. Then store it in the fridge.

And bitters; never neglect to put bitters in. If you don't already have a bottle of Angostura, Peychaud's, and Regan's Orange you haven't started this course of study.
posted by Prince_of_Cups at 7:22 PM on April 2, 2012

Depending on what you are making, sometimes the higher end boozes aren't what you are looking for. They can tend to have "brand name flavors" that might overwhelm a mixed drink. Like for example, a screwdriver made with Absolut is awful, to me. But make it with a more neutral one and it is delicious.

For your classic gin drinks, try bone-stock Seagrams Extra Dry. For bourbon mixes, use Jim Beam. For Canadian, use Canadian Club. Seagrams Seven fits in there somewhere too. I don't know vodka that well, but probably Smirnoff or Stolichnaya?

Example: I never really liked Martinis. However, I happened to have some Martini Vermouth, and looked up the EXACT ratio (11:3) and made one to that spec. It was fucking delicious. Then I experimented, and any deviation from that exact ratio was terrible.
posted by gjc at 7:33 PM on April 2, 2012 [1 favorite]

There are a couple things that, in my experience, bumped cocktails up significantly and until I took them really seriously as rules my drinks were never that great, no matter how great the recipe. Now even so-so recipes come out quite drinkable given the rules. They're obvious, so forgive me if their obviousness is insulting--but it was about really taking them seriously every time. They include...

1) Cold drinks need to be COLD, like frosty ass cold, and warm drinks warm. I know, duh, but seriously, arctic cold and small enough (should easily fit in a 4 or 5 oz coupe after being mixed with ice and strained) to be imbibed before they get warm/tepid.

2) As part of that, get good at mise-ing. This involves getting all the non-cold things like spirits, the fresh squeezed juice, the garnish out and ready along with your shaker/mixing glass, barspoon, strainer, and jigger/measuring device. Personally, I measure out all the stuff that wasn't pre-chilled--the spirits and juices--into the mixing glass. I then put that stuff away if I'm not making more drinks. Only then do I go get the chilled stuff--vermouth/aromatized wine, simple syrup, and finally and most importantly the ice. Don't grab the ice and put it in your shaker and then realize you need to go put stuff away or go get all the other ingredients, 'cause it'll be melting and diluting too much while you do that.

3) Speaking of the ice, is yours good quality? This is not just pretentious snobbery; size and "dryness" of ice matters. I've noticed when I use the chipped, melty ice you find in bags for parties, cocktails suffer. It's worth keeping a big cache of BIG, dry cubes in the freezer on hand.

4) And speaking of mise-ing, it works best to keep your serving glasses in the freezer. If you don't have room to do that all the time (I usually don't), at least put the serving glass in the freezer before you do anything else, so that in the time it takes for you to amass your other ingredients and prepare the cocktail, the glass gets a little frost on its edge.

5) Barspoons might seem silly, but they're worth it, I've found. The way the handle is curled gives you something to grip so while you stir, you also can plunge up and down gently, which makes drinks taste better I find.

6) If you're using one of those standard jiggers and you're finding even trying to use precise measurements with it stuff tastes too tart/sweet or whatever, consider getting a mini OXO measuring cup instead. It's all I use now and I'd have a really hard time going back.

7) Also re: precise measuring: make sure you know what "a dash" or "a barspoon" really is in concrete terms. Lots of people under- or overestimate what those really mean (1 dash is approximately 1/6 teaspoon).

8) Always use fresh squeezed (as in, squeezed that day, preferably no more than a couple hours ahead of time) fruit juice, especially citrus juices. Always always always. The change in flavor is ridiculous. (Since you like to cook you probably already feel this way, I realize.)

9) If you're using citrus twists to garnish drinks, take care not to incorporate too much of the bitter pith underside. The chemical make up of it can ruin delicate drinks.

This might all sound super anal and stupid, but I swear, once you get used to assuming all of these things every time, it's not complicated at all and the dramatic increase in quality is great.

I recommend the videos from Robert Hess' The Cocktail Spirit and (my favorite) Jamie Boudreau's Raising the Bar. For literature, I recommend Gary Regan's Joy of Mixology as it doesn't just include recipes but charts and explanations for the different families/schools of cocktails and what makes them work, and for various cocktails he mentions ways you can play around unthreateningly to learn how balance between sweet/dry, thin/thick, rich/refreshing, etc. works. I'm also a fan of Esquire Drinks by David Wondrich in that the recipes seem very balanced and Wondrich is great at explaining in down-to-earth terms what makes a drink good or not, a classic or a fad.

There are a ton of resources for drinks and firsthand accounts of how balanced or not they are all over the web--check out The Chanticleer Society, Drink Boston's site, Imbibe Magazine's site,,,, drinkboy,, Chowhound's liquor boards, blogs like Cocktail Virgin and Alcademics, etc.
posted by ifjuly at 7:10 AM on April 3, 2012 [4 favorites]

Oh, I meant to say too a lot of people don't know how long to shake or stir, which affects dilution. General rule of thumb is to shake about 15 seconds and stir 30-40 seconds. You want to shake strongly (there's that popular line in The Savoy book about wanting to "wake the drink up, not rock it to sleep") but you don't want to be shaking hugely up and down over a long vertical amount of space because that slams the ice and crushes it too much, causing more chipping and dilution than usually desired.

Also generally, you shake when there are "opaque" non-spirit ingredients involved (fruit juices including any citrus, cream or other dairy, eggs, chocolate) and stir when it's only liquor and liqueur-type things (base spirit + vermouth/aromatized wine, for example).
posted by ifjuly at 7:13 AM on April 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

I've learned an awful lot from 12 Bottle Bar.
posted by notyou at 7:14 AM on April 3, 2012

Oh, and I forgot too...if your drinks with vermouth/aromatized wines or similar (Punt e Mes, Carpano Antica, Lillet, Dubonnet, Cocchi Americano, etc.) never taste good, it might be because those ingredients are stale. They should be treated like wine--kept chilled, used up right away before they oxidize and go bad. That's a big reason people think they don't like manhattans or martinis (or only like them ridiculously dry) and similar, because they've only ever had them with vermouth gone bad, and bad vermouth is undrinkable.
posted by ifjuly at 7:15 AM on April 3, 2012 [2 favorites]

Keep forgetting stuff, g'ah. With eggs, generally it's best to dry shake (shake the ingredients without ice, about 10 seconds) first, then shake like normal (15 seconds) with ice. Helps incorporate the egg better.
posted by ifjuly at 7:19 AM on April 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

I hope this is the last thing I've forgotten...

With muddling, lots of people overdo it and the usual result is bitterness. Muddling is more about gently pressing in a small, twisting/circular motion to express fragrant volatile oils than crushing or pounding. Don't muddle hard and don't muddle too long, particularly with stuff like mint, basil, or citrus skins.

And above, about the barspoon, I meant to say the curled handle makes it easier to both plunge up and down while stirring AND twirl the spoon. Helps a lot.
posted by ifjuly at 7:55 AM on April 3, 2012 [1 favorite]

> Then again, I had a friend complain that her gin and tonic was too boozy, and it tasted just right for me. In cooking, I can sort of salt and season to the middle, and it tends to be right. I feel like mixing involves greater variation from person to person.

It totally does, which is kind of cool actually. Like. Dale DeGroff is much admired, but I've come to the conclusion--by doing something similar to what dfan mentions where you anally follow different recipes and compare and contrast to slowly learn what makes one drier than the other and to pick up on underlying classic patterns re: ratios--that, all else being equal, if I make a classic drink using his recipe from say Craft of the Cocktail and one using Gary Regan's from Joy of Mixology, odds are high I will prefer Regan's because he tenders toward drier, stronger, and less fruity than DeGroff. You mentioned the Corpse Reviver #2 you made--maybe you messed up the classic formula measuring or otherwise preparing somehow, but maybe you just don't like the classic ratio. If that's the case just make a note of it. Which reminds, keeping a personalized recipe book/document with ratios just to your liking is invaluable.

Robert Hess had another good tip for beginners somewhere on his show about lots of times, people try to buy a zillion different things at once and get overwhelmed and it's too many variables to pick up on pattersn to reliably learn from. He recommends instead picking a single cocktail, purchasing the ingredients for it, working on perfecting it at home, and then once you've locked it down try variations on it using, say, a different bourbon or vermouth or subbing the sweetener (putting in honey instead of simple syrup, or maple syrup, etc.) or acid, or turning it into a highball, etc. just to learn to recognize what each variable is really contributing and how balance changes. Doing this in the more controlled setting of a single drink will help you focus. Then, once you've mastered that all around, look to the ingredients you've got based on that drink and branch out, an ingredient or two at a time. You know, so you've got your Manhattan figured out which means you've got whiskey and sweet vermouth, now look up at reputable places (aforementioned KindredCocktails, DiffordsGuide, the newly revamped Mr. Boston, etc.) other drinks that use those two ingredients and maybe one or two more you'll now branch out and buy too. In short, build your bar as you build your expertise. I remember thinking when Hess described this approach, damn, that's good and I should have thought of it. I know in my personal experiments my ability to really learn from trying new drinks grew when I narrowed the variables involved (spending a season only on rye drinks, or gin drinks, or things involving grapefruit to help me get rid of the big cheap sack of it I'd gotten on sale, etc.).
posted by ifjuly at 11:41 AM on April 3, 2012

The secret to a good Sazerac in my opinion is not to mix in Absinthe but to pour the other ingredients into an Absinthe rinsed glass. This is the Please Don't Tell Method and is the best I've found. Here's their recipe:

2 oz Rittenhouse Bonded Rye Whiskey
3 dashes Peychaud's
2 dashes Angostura
1 Demarara Sugar Cube

Muddle the sugar and bitters. Add the whiskey and ice.

Stir and strain into a chilled Vieux Pontarlier Absinthe-rinsed rocks glass.

Twist a lemon peel over the surface and discard.


Also, fiercecupcake's advice (above) is excellent.

I throw cocktail parties every Friday and there are two things that have helped me become a better mixer:

1. Do not socialize when mixing--focus on the task at hand and only the task at hand.
2. Use a straw to taste the concoction before sharing it with guests.

You can see #2 used in this video by the bartender at PDT.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 2:21 PM on April 7, 2012

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