Now you've access to a huge variety of cocktail recipes from around the world, it's time to get mixing! But before you do, you'll need to grab yourself some cocktail making essentials. Here's mine
I bet ice wouldn't spring to mind if I were to ask you what an absolute cocktail-making essential is, but it really is, and any bartender will tell you the same! The humble ice cube plays a vital role in how well your cocktails will turn out at home.
The bags of ice you typically find in supermarkets are really no good for cocktail making, and if you've ever bought a bag you'll agree that you don't actually end up with many 'cubes' and more a bag of frost, instead.
I'm not for one minute suggesting you invest in a super expensive ice machine, in fact, the answer is really very simple!
Cheap ice cube trays and ziplock bags.
When I say ice cube trays, I mean the 'normal' square or rectangular type; those novelty shape moulds have no place in your home bar!
Fill your ice cubes trays with fresh, cold water, then carefully slide them horizontally into ziplock bags, which will prevent the ice from picking up any smells or flavours from anything else you have stored in your freezer. After all, who wants a garden pea flavoured ice cube? Certainly not me!
A Hawthorn strainer is pretty handy to strain your freshly shaken cocktails into their glasses. It consists of a metal disk with a handle, with a curved metal spring around the edge. The spring prevents the ice from passing into the glass along with the liquid.
Most Hawthorn strainers also have 2 metal prongs that go over the edge of your shaker, to help keep it in place so you can strain with one hand.
You can pick one of these up for just a couple of quid, and you really don't need anything fancy. I recommend a Boston shaker - a glass with a metal container that fits over it to seal the ingredients in before shaking, but you could also try a Cobbler shaker or a French shaker.
Ever seen a bartender free-pouring spirits without a measure? You may think it looks easy, but it's actually a very difficult trick to master! Cocktail making is an art, and accuracy is a key component of the perfect cocktail, so make sure your kit features a jigger.
A jigger is essentially a measuring jug for cocktail making, and you will find that they come in all sorts of shapes and sizes and often have both millilitres and ounces on.
Avoid jiggers with 'shot' measures (single/double) as most cocktail recipes call for a specific measure of ingredients, rather than whole 'shots'.
Muddling can help to release oils from the skin of citrus fruits, along with their juices, and whilst there's plenty of fancy muddlers out there on the market, I like my trusty wooden version.
Although you can stir drinks with anything long and thin, a barspoon will only set you back a couple of pounds, so you may as well add it to your kit.
Again, there's plenty out there but ultimately they all do the same job, so buy one that feels like a reasonable price to you.
So now you're armed with your cocktail making kit, it's time to get stirring, shaking, muddling and mixing bar-quality cocktails at home! Check out my huge selection of cocktail recipes here.