The Staff
of Valet.

Essential Home Bar

The Best Booze, Bitters and Bar Tools for the Ideal At-Home Drink


The Technique

Presented by Don Q Rum

The number one rum
in the land of rum

By now, you've got the all the ingredients and the tools necessary to build a proper drink. Here's how to put them to good use. We sought the wisdom of Charles Schumann, author of "The American Bar: The Artistry of Mixing Drinks," for the top tips to craft the perfect cocktail the right way.

How to: Shake It

Schumann prefers the Boston shaker, the glass and tin set that most bartenders use. And once you master it, you'll see why—it's simple, versatile and quick.


Pour ingredients into glass and drop in five or six ice cubes (or a handful of cracked ice) and cover with metal shaker, pressing down to seal.


With your hand under the glass, pick it up and flip the whole thing over. Shake vigorously in slight oval movement. "Ten seconds is sufficient," says Schumann. "But drinks with syrups or eggs should be shaken for twenty."


You've now got a vacuum-sealed cocktail. Hold the shaker metal-side down with two fingers on the glass and two on the can. With the palm of your hand, strike the point the glass touches the tin.


Cover with your Hawthorne strainer and pour into your glass.

Shaken vs. Stirred

When you've got a cocktail that's all liquor, shaking it would just make it murky. According to Schuman, cocktails that are stirred are often among the classics—drinks like martinis and the Manhattan. He suggests stirring drinks with an upside down bar spoon, so you can mix from the bottom up.



Never shake more than two cocktails in a shaker.

How to: Muddle

This tiny bat-shaped tool is essential for juleps, mojitos and old fashioneds.


The rounded end is the handle. The blunt edge is the business end.


Firmly press down and twist in one direction to extract juices from fruit or essence from herbs.


This isn't a stress exercise. Don't shred or beat to a pulp—a mint leaf should still be whole.

"A Dash"

When a recipe calls for a dash,
that's approximately ½ oz., or 1 tablespoon.

The Finish

A twist of lemon or lime isn't simply a garnish. The essential oils enhance the drink, so make sure to pinch the skin to release a venom-like spray onto the drink's surface before running it around the rim of the glass. Then drop it in.


Get It

The American Bar: The Artistry of Mixing Drinks, by Charles Schumann, $19 at Amazon


When mixing drinks, Schumann suggests adding the non-alcoholic ingredients first and the liquor last.


Related on Valet

Cocktail Recipes

An interactive coast to coast map of the best American-made vodkas today.


The only way to open a bottle of Champagne? The age old technique known as sabering. Here's how to do it.


The headache. The nausea. The bloodshot eyes. We present the cure to your ills.