Easy Cocktails For Beginners: Debunking Myths and Embracing Simplicity
If you feel daunted by the prospect of making cocktails. If the fear of getting-it-wrong is standing between you and mixological success (is it even a word – it is now!). You are in safe hands. Because today we will guide you through the cocktail basics, debunking some common myths, and exploring the essentials of crafting easy cocktails for beginners.
At Crafty Distillery we understand first-hand the challenges of getting started in cocktail making. Through our distillery tours and events, we love nothing more than helping people to build confidence in cocktail experimentation. Our distillery was built on the belief that craft spirits should be accessible to all, and this same ethos applies to cocktail making.
Whether you love craft gin, craft vodka or something different like our Hills & Harbour Distilled Gin Cocktail, we have you covered in this guide. So let’s remove the complexities, cut out the convolution, and debunk some myths that may be holding you back. By applying some of the following basics, you will be able to amaze you friends, family and complete strangers with your new cocktail making wizardry. Plus we have included three easy cocktail recipes to make at home.
Debunking Cocktail Making Myths
Myth #1: Cocktail Making Requires Exotic Ingredients
Reality: Crafting a delightful cocktail doesn't mean breaking the bank or importing organic prickly pears from Namibia! Many classic cocktails require simple, readily available ingredients. We know from experience that it’s the quality of the core spirit that will have the biggest impact on taste.
Myth #2: Cocktail Making Is An Art Reserved For Professionals
Reality: You don't need to be a professional bartender to create impressive cocktails. With a bit of knowledge, practice, and the right tools, you can become a home mixologist in no time at all. Start with basic recipes and gradually experiment to find your signature concoctions. The greatest cocktails today were created through experimentation, so don’t be afraid to find alternative ingredients and change recipes to suit your taste.
Myth #3: Cocktails Are Time-Consuming To Make
Reality: While some intricate cocktails may require more time and effort, many classics and modern favourites are quick and easy to whip up. Before long you'll develop a knack for efficient mixing, allowing you to enjoy a delicious cocktail without spending hours in the process. If you’re having a cocktail party, why not prepare some of the key ingredients beforehand?
The Basics of Easy Cocktail Making
1) Start Simple - Begin your mixology journey with uncomplicated recipes that involve a few ingredients. If you are missing a particular ingredient see what alternatives you may have. It’s always better to add some ingredients slowly to find the perfect balance.
2) Essential Spirits - A well-rounded bar for cocktails to make at home typically includes just a few essential spirits such as vodka, gin and rum but also possibly tequila and whisky too. These versatile spirits form the base for countless cocktail variations.
3) Mixers and Juices - Stock up on mixers like tonic water, soda, ginger beer, and fruit juices. These components add depth and flavour to your cocktails. Top tip: Use freshly squeezed citrus juices in your cocktails. The extra effort is well worth it!
4) Garnishes - Don't underestimate the power of garnishes. Citrus twists, pine sprigs, olives, herbs or a slice of fruit not only enhance the visual appeal but also contribute to the overall flavour profile of your cocktails.
The Basic Cocktail Making Kit
Like most creative processes, having the right tools isn’t essential, but they can go a long way towards saving time and generally making life easier. Here’s our selection of such a cocktail making kit, and a few alternatives that you may already have at home.
1) Cocktail Shaker - Not only great for mixing your ingredients but shaking a cocktail is also a lot fun too. They can be picked up easily, however, why not repurpose one of our Hills & Harbour Gin or 24 Seven Vodka bottles. The extra wide neck means it’s easier to get ice cubes inside than a standard bottle.
2) Jigger - Another name for a spirits measure. It allows you to accurately measure the spirits for your creations for predictable results. Did you know? Our bottle stoppers have a spirit measure designed into them!
3) Muddler - Used to crush herbs, fruits, or sugar cubes in the glass. Of course there are all manner of ways to crush things. The end of a wide handled cooking spoon can also do the job.
4) Bar Spoon - Ideal for stirring and layering cocktails. Any long spoon will do.
5) Strainer - Ensures smooth pouring by filtering ice and other solid ingredients. A fine strainer is a great asset and easy to pick up, if you don’t have a tea strainer already.
Simple Syrup Is… Simple
Many cocktail recipes require simple syrup (sugar syrup) as a key component. It’s there to add sweetness. While good brands are readily available, even from many supermarkets, simple syrup is ridiculously easy to make. Not only will you save a few pennies, but you will have massive bragging rights and ensuring kudos from your guests.
The easy sugar syrup recipe.
Step 1 - Dissolve 300g of caster sugar in 150ml water over a gentle heat.
Step 2 - Allow it to cool before use or store it in a sterilised bottle for future use (empty Hills & Harbour Bottles are perfect!).
Step 3 - Keep it in the fridge for up to 2 weeks.
Embrace The Simplicity Of Making Cocktails At Home
The key to enjoying cocktail making as a beginner is embracing simplicity. Start with straightforward recipes that allow you to focus on mastering basic techniques. As you gain confidence, you can gradually experiment with more complex concoctions and inventive flavour combinations.
Below you will find some of our most popular cocktail drink recipes as enjoyed by guests at our events at Crafty Distillery. We find that it’s the quality of the base spirit for our different products that is central to making a great cocktail. It provides the body, structure and an extremely smooth finish. For example, 24 Seven works so well in a White Russian or simply mixed with lemonade because it doesn’t have any harsh alcohol taste. This is why we insist on making all of our spirits at the distillery from scratch starting with just the raw grains, yeast and water.
Easy Gin Cocktail Recipe: Tom Collins
To your cocktail shaker add:
- 50ml Hills & Harbour Gin
- 25ml lemon juice
- 25ml simple syrup
Add a good amount of ice to a highball glass
Pour the contents of the shaker into the glass through a strainer
Top up with soda water
Then garnish with a slice of lemon skin
Easy Cocktail Sour Recipe: Pineapple Sour
Grab your cocktail shaker and add:
- 50ml Hills & Harbour Distilled Gin Cocktail
- 25ml pineapple and lemon juice
- 12.5ml simple syrup
- 25ml egg white (no yoke!)
Shake together without ice first
Then add ice for a final shake
Add ice to your glass (martini glasses work great!)
Double strain the contents of the shaker into the glass
Garnish with dried pineapple
Easy Vodka Cocktail Recipe: Espresso Martini
Pour into your cocktail shaker:
- 50ml 24 Seven Vodka
- 50ml espresso
- 25ml simple syrup
Shake vigorously while doing a little dance
Then double strain into a martini glass
Garnish with 3 coffee beans (no more, no less)
Now it’s over to you! Get creative and give it a go because there’s nothing to lose and everything to gain. And let us know how you get on! In the meantime why not take your cocktail making expertise to boss level by learning a bit about the fascinating history of cocktails. Check out our article: Shaken, Stirred, and Crafted: Unravelling The History of Cocktails.