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The 10 Essential Ingredients for Making Cocktails at Home

Have you ever thrown a cocktail party at home and thought what do I actually need to make cocktails at home? Well, look no more! We’ve compiled a list of ten essentials every cocktail party thrower needs, to make awesome and great tasting cocktails at home.

1. Tools
2. Glasses
3. Spirits
4. Liqueurs
5. Citrus
6. Fruits
7. Sugar
8. Ice
9. Juices
10. Spices/Bitters


1. Tools
The number one essential you need is tools.  To cool, mix & dilute cocktails you obviously need a cocktail shaker. There are different kinds of cocktail shakers. Often people think: the more expensive, the better. Spoiler alert: It’s a myth. 

From the cheap, plastic €5,- shaker to the €200,- silver-plated antique. It doesn’t matter how expensive the shaker is. It just serves it purpose. Buy a shaker that gets the job done. If you’re throwing a party for 50 people, it wouldn’t be logic to buy a small, plastic cocktail shaker that will break after 5 shakes. 

Other tools that are essential as well to make different kinds of cocktail are a barspoon, a muddler, a Mexican elbow and a strainer. And if you don’t know how to count your pours, then get yourself a jigger.

2. Glasses
Whether you’re throwing a small, exclusive cocktail party or a go-wild house party. Glassware is essential. Presentation is a huge aspect of cocktails and glasses are a big part of cocktail presentation. Just remember, get the right glasses for the right cocktails. You don’t want to present a Cosmopolitan in a whisky tumbler.

3. Spirits
In-depth spirit knowledge will help you a lot when making cocktails at home. In case you don’t have in-depth spirit knowledge (We don’t expect you to), here’s a list of 5 essential spirits a cocktail party thrower might need to create liquid deliciousness.

Rum: Sugar cane based spirit
Whisky: Grain based aged spirit
Tequila: Agave based spirit
Vodka: Any fermentable sugar based spirit
Gin: Neutral alcohol based spirit flavoured with juniper berry & botanicals

Obviously there are also more spirits in the world. But with these five different spirits you can already make countless cocktails. 

4. Liqueurs
With only spirits you cannot make those delicious cocktails. Too make cocktails you also need flavours. One ingredient that will definitely get you those flavours is a liqueur. Liqueurs offer a wide range of flavours.
 
From the well-known Triple Sec to the floral Elderflower liqueur. Any flavour you want, you can probably get a liqueur containing that flavour. Liqueurs are typically sweet, so if you use a lot of liqueurs in your cocktails, your guests might need to visit the dentist the next day. 

5. Citrus
To balance those sweet tones in your cocktails, you need something sour. The most common sours in cocktails used worldwide by bartenders are lemon juice & lime juice.  You can buy these in your local supermarket. Or you can save yourself some money and buy fresh limes or lemons and squeeze the juices yourself with a Mexican elbow. Note: Fresh juices taste better in cocktails than processed ones.

6. Fruits
Where liqueurs bring flavour to your cocktails, they also add a lot of sweetness. To really get a fresh flavour in your cocktails, grab a bunch of juicy fruits. Depending on the season, try to get your hands on some forest fruits, oranges, grapefruits, passion fruits etc. Make sure the fruits you picked are ripe.  Overripe or under ripe fruits usually tastes either bitter or sour.
Fruits are not only cocktail ingredients, but you can also make nice & tasty garnishes with it. 
 
7. Sugar or sweetness
There are countless different types of sweetness you can add to your cocktails. From the common simple or rich sugar syrup to the more complex cinnamon and orange peel infused vanilla syrup. When making cocktails at home you can easily prep your syrups before the party starts. The easiest to make and most used syrup in the world of cocktail bartending is the simple or rich sugar syrup. You can easily buy sugar syrup, but if you want to save money you should try the recipe below, its simple and easy.

Simple sugar syrup
Ingredients: 1 kilograms refined sugar, 1 litre of boiling water.
Method: Add your ingredients in a pan. Heat the mixture up and stir until all the sugar is dissolved. Let cool down and bottle. Or add boiling water to the sugar and stir until all the sugar is dissolved.

Rich sugar syrup
2 kilograms of refined sugar, 1 litre of boiling water.
Method: Same method as simple sugar syrup.

8. Ice
Off course you want your cocktails to be as cool as yourself. There a couple of methods to apply when making cocktails at home. Either you premix a whole batch of your concoction and refrigerate it. Or you can shake your drink with ice.

Ice is one of the most essential ingredients in a cocktail for two important reasons: dilution and cooling. You can buy ice cubes or you can easily prep it in your freezer. Just make sure you don’t run out!

9. Juices
Juices are also essential when making cocktails at home. Whether they are freshly squeezed juices or concentrated fruit juices. The most used juices in the cocktail bartending world are orange juice, cranberry juice and pineapple juice. Get these three when making cocktails at home and you’re good to go.

11. Spices/Bitters
Depending on the level of difficulty of your cocktails you can add spices or bitters. Again if you’re a beginner, stick to simplicity. If you want more depth to your cocktail, add some spices and/or bitters. Cinnamon, star anise, vanilla are just a few to mention. Bitters gets you that extra little bit of kick to your cocktail. Common bitters such as Angostura bitters, Peychaud bitters, Orange bitters can be bought in the shops. Just make sure you know what’s in your bitters and which ones you can use when making cocktails at home.

Now you know which essential ingredients you need to impress your friends and family with your own cocktails at home. 

By Bols Bartending Academy Trainer: Tyron Francisca

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