One of the biggest trends of 2020 was the at-home cocktail, and according to the Bacardi Cocktail Trends Report, growth has continued throughout this year and shows no sign of slowing down. While this movement of experimentation may have been prompted by spending more time at home, it’s the experience of trying new things, learning a skill, and entertaining our friends that has held our interest. Add to this the raft of virtual happy hours and online mixology classes, and the home bar is returning to the spotlight, night after night.
There’s a lot to love about a couch cocktail session, and it’s a wonderful chance to get experimental. So roll up your sleeves, open your liquor cabinet, and let’s get to mixing.
The internet has, in its worldwide wisdom, provided us with endless cocktail recipes to peruse at our leisure — and you don’t need to buy them at a bar to figure them out! Just jump online and search for “easy homemade cocktails” and “best homemade cocktails” to get the knowledge and insight from real bartenders as they walk you through the process.
Among those on top 10 cocktails lists around the world right now are the classics — the Old Fashioned, the Negroni, the Daiquiri, the Dry Martini and the Margarita. Tipped to be big news for spring in Australia are the lighter, fruitier counterparts such as the Cosmopolitan, the Mojito and wine-based cocktails — think the Frosé (frozen rosé) and the Spritz.
You don’t really need a heap of professional equipment at the start of your home bar journey. A cocktail shaker is pretty necessary (although you could get away with a mason jar), as is a measuring jigger, a long-handled bar spoon and a fine strainer.
Whilst your favourite tumbler can be perfectly fine, we understand the desire to invest in some targetted glassware. The essential cocktail glasses include: a rocks glass or lowball glass, which is short, wide, and very versatile; a Collins glass or highball, which is tall and narrow (great for G&Ts, Fizzes, and — of course — a Tom Collins); a classic coupe glass for your Margarita and Martini; and at least one kind of wine glass.
Homemade cocktails guarantee that you’ll always get the drink you ordered (even if it takes a couple tries to get there). Who knows — you might even find that you end up enjoying the freedoms and comforts of your home cocktail bar so much that you’ll become your own favourite customer.
One of the easiest classic cocktails to make is the Negroni. Made with equal parts gin, vermouth (try Antica Formula) and Campari, this 102-year-old ruby-red Italian apéritif may look sweet, but is beautifully bitter and herbaceous. Its flavour is bold and instantly unforgettable, yet it has chameleon-like subtle flavour qualities that make it a refreshing cocktail on its own or a great partner to appetisers.
For something undeniably fresh, you’ve got to sip the Mojito. The key to getting this one right is in the muddling — just enough to release the oils and aromas of the mint, but not so much that it breaks down completely. And if you fancy a twist on the classic, just swap out the white rum for dark rum to add a deeper, richer flavour.
The 50/50 Martini maintains the class of the classic, but is a little less dry and lighter in style. The 50/50 is exactly what it says it is: half gin (we like Poltergeist) and half vermouth, making it a lower ABV cocktail option. For a crisp take on the 50/50, swap out the orange bitters for fresh lemon peel. Before serving, simply express (twist) the lemon peel to release oils into the glass. Enjoy!