Equipping yourself with the knowledge, skills and tools to craft a proper cocktail will serve you well—whether you're mixing up a tipple for a date or just wanting some refreshment at the end of a long day. But making an exceptional drink at home requires more than simply a few bottles of a booze and healthy thirst. So we reached out to Elliott Clark, the Apartment Bartender, for some sound advice on what it takes to make delicious cocktails at home. "Being a better man is all about good living, however you define it, and I believe it was Benjamin Franklin, who said, 'There cannot be good living where there is not good drinking,'" says Clark. "I believe every man should know how to craft a good cocktail for himself, his comrades and his significant other. These are my top four tips for those curious about imbibing something better than a vodka soda."
Invest $200 into your home bar starting out.
Two hundred dollars is a perfect start-up investment. This will allow you to get set up with the tools of the trade, as well as a good set of spirits needed to mix up some classic cocktails. Be sure to buy the following:
A mixing glass for stirred cocktails, bar spoon, cocktail shaker, jigger (for measuring), hawthorne strainer, fine mesh strainer and a muddler.
When stocking the bar with spirits, don't worry about breaking the bank. Bottles ranging from $15-$25 work perfectly when mixing. Six bottles you'll want to buy:
(ex: Old Grand Dad)
(ex: Old Overholt)
100% Agave reposado tequila
(ex: Bacardi Superior)
Learn the basics of cocktail technique and cocktail classics.
Once you make the start-up investment into your home bar, the fun really starts. Take some time to learn the difference between a shaken and stirred cocktail (Google it). Once you catch on, get experimenting with the cocktail classics. With your set up you should be able to craft an old fashioned, a Manhattan, margarita, mojito, daiquiris and sours. And those classic cocktail recipes are crucial to memorize. They're good drinks, but also serve as a template for experimenting with other ingredients as you expand your home bar. But start with the fundamentals first.
Focus on flavors.
As you grow in the world of home bartending, one of the best ways to introduce different flavor profiles into your cocktails is through using homemade syrups. Like cinnamon syrup, pineapple syrup, jalapeño syrup, etc. When making homemade syrups, most are best used within the first two weeks. Store them in a clean glass container in the refrigerator. Syrups can develop mold so it's best to only make quantities of a syrup you know you're going to use within a reasonable amount of time.
Be prepared to be the life of the party.
Being regarded as the "slinger of booze" amongst your peers is a great power, and with great power comes great responsibility, right? You will carry the burden of guiding your significant other, friends and family to the experience of good drinking. You will also be the life of the party, which is a fun spot to be in. Your job is to embrace and enjoy it.
Cheers to not only growing as a man but to improving what you sip. Onward and upward.
Volume 9 // 2017
When we started our 31 Days series, way back in 2009, it was an idea that began out of the natural tendency to see the new year as a restart of sorts. Each day, we put up a short tip or trick to help readers get a fresh start to the new year and step up their game. Then we did it again the next year and it's grown every year since, proving to be one of Valet.'s most popular series ever. This year, nearly a decade in, we've shifted the focus just a touch—narrowing in on skills and attributes we believe make you a better man. Little things that have a big, lasting impact on your life and the lives of those around you. Everyday this month, we'll introduce a topic or idea aimed at helping you look your best, feel great and be the civilized 21st century gentleman we all strive to be. Best of luck in 2017 and thanks for reading.