Cocktails are undergoing a popular resurgence, and increasingly, lovers of mixed drinks need not even leave the confines of the home to enjoy a delicious concoction.
Thanks to personalities such as Elliott Clark, the founder and personality behind @apartment_bartender and a former Martell Swift, it is easier than ever to create simple cocktails whenever hosting friends or parties in your abode.
Let’s start with some bar cart – or benchtop – essentials. Equip yourself with the most common base spirits. Cognac can be used in many mixed drinks, regardless of the season, and often makes a novel substitute for whiskey, bourbon and other dark spirits.
From a Derby with Martell VSOP, to a Summer Collins with Martell VS, or the Kwai Fa-shioned – a Hong Kong twist on the popular classic made with Martell Noblige. These Martell cognacs have the right level of nuance and subtlety for mixed drinks, marrying well with other ingredients to create memorable flavour profiles.
Bitters are a recurring ingredient in many recipes, adding a subtle aromatic profile, the most common being Peychaud’s, orange, or Angostura.
Freshly squeezed citrus juice is a must-have for most sour cocktails. Navel oranges, limes, lemons and even grapefruit, can in turn be fresh, sour, pungent or bracing, depending on the style desired.
Let us not forget clean ice, the importance of which is too often overlooked. Since ice melts and integrates into any mixed drink, look for ice that is as pure as possible. Create your own with filtered or mineral water, or purchase from the freezer section of your local grocery store. You may even use a large-cube ice mould to level up the presentation of any cocktail served in a rocks glass.
Home bartending tools
Now let’s address the utensils. If a cocktail shaker is not essential, it certainly makes life easier. A basic shaker tin is sufficient, often more sturdy than professional offerings, and just as effective.
A jigger, that unusual vessel shaped like two inverted cones, is the standard way to measure your liquid ingredients. They come in a variety of sizes, but one that combines a 2oz cone and 1oz cone on the other side will cover most combinations. Using a jigger will ensure a level of consistency and balance throughout the cocktails you regularly make.
Next, the bar spoon. While there’s nothing to stop you using the end of a kitchen spoon, chopstick or other similar shape, a bar spoon is specifically shaped to navigate around the ice and ingredients in your mixing glass, in a way that chills the drink without overly diluting it.
A strainer, or even two or three, will also be a welcome addition. The mesh varies, from the coarser hawthorne or julep models, to the fine-mesh strainer, each holding at bay any ice, ingredients, or fruit pulp you do not desire in the final drink.
The more serious home bartenders may also have a dedicated muddler, a blunt wooden object used to press down on ingredients such as herbs or fruits, in a way that gently releases their flavour. Though in most cases a wooden spoon can ably do the job.
The last essential for any home bartending experience, is a reliable library of cocktail recipes.
Martell has several dozen available, including special recipes by Elliott Clark or Martell’s Master Mixologist Rémy Savage, ideal whether seeking a simple cocktail with cognac, or an elegant cocktail for a special occasion.
Speaking of Rémy Savage, don’t miss his latest series of practical home bartending videos produced with Martell.
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