Cocktail Making Tips

Welcome to our blog with 5 tips from behind the bar.  This blog is all about cocktails and the equipment you might need to become a cocktail whizz! Whether you’re new to cocktails or a more experienced home mixologist, we hope you find these tips helpful in your journey. Let’s get started!


Not all cocktails need a shaker!

The first thing you will need to make any cocktail is something to mix it in.

Most people will immediately think that means a cocktail shaker such as a Boston or Cobbler (sometimes known as Manhattan) shaker. A Boston shaker is two tins or a glass and a tin that you put together and a Cobbler is a 3-part shaker with a lid. I am sure you are familiar with these.

Don’t forget many of the best and simplest cocktails don’t even need a shaker. They are prepared by mixing in a glass or jug. Any glass jug could be used for this but we have our own Japanese Mixing Glass. Cocktails such as the Old Fashioned, Sazerac, Negroni, Manhattan and some Martini

s (whether a Martini is shaken or stirred is a whole blog in itself!) are made in this way. Use plenty of ice and add your ingredients. Stir well and pour into your glass of choice, ideally discarding the ice from the mixing glass.

We would recommend this mixing glass which conveniently includes a Hawthorne Strainer for discarding your ice.


Ice cubes are your cocktail making friend!

Contrary to popular belief putting more ice in your drink will not water it down. In fact the opposite is true! A small amount of ice means the ice will melt faster and dilute your drink. Short cocktails with purees and juices served in a coupe should be well shaken including ice and then served without ice.

Long drinks such as a Moscow Mule, Margarita and Tequila Sunrise should be served over plenty of ice cubes. We serve our Mojito, Bramble and our own Watermelon Sugar over crushed ice.

Our Negroni, Old Fashioned and Sazerac cocktails are served over a large ice cube. Made in a freezer just like you would at home these large ice cubes look great in a short cocktail served in a rocks glass. If you have wide ‘copa’ gin and tonic glasses they also work very well in a gin and tonic.



Flavour your gin and tonic

 A bewildering array of flavours of gin, and to a lesser extent vodka are now available to purchase online or in most supermarkets. But you don’t need to purchase numerous bottles of gin to get a flavoured gin and tonic of your choice. Another way is to buy a quality syrup in your favourite flavour. Not only is this cheaper than buying multiple gins, they will last ages as you only need a small amount in each drink. There are several well-known brands and we would recommend Monin or Giffard syrups.  At last count Monin has more than 100 different flavours and at between £10 and £12 a bottle a 20ml serving in your drink will be enough for about 35 drinks, approximately 30p a drink!

My personal favourite is Monin premium grapefruit syrup but I promise your favourite flavour will be available and they really pimp up your gin and tonic a treat!


Not sure about egg white, try this!


Many shaken cocktails call for egg whites to be used to emulsify the cocktail and once shaken create the delicious foam on top of your Amaretto Sour, Gin Fizz or Espresso Martini for example. But egg whites are messy, expensive if you have no use for the egg yolks, not for vegan guests and perhaps most importantly, many people don’t like the thought of raw egg in their cocktail!

There are lots of synthetic alternatives to egg whites but we think Ms. Better’s Miraculous Foamer Bitters is the best and use it on our bar. It is an expensive product but you only need to use a tiny amount, served from the included pipette, for each drink. It is recommended that you dry shake (that means without ice) first before wet shaking (with ice) but in our experience you can still get the lovely foam even with ice in the shaker.

If you enjoy cocktails that normally would require egg whites we would highly recommend trying this product.


Non-alcohol cocktails can be fun too!

As well as serving great cocktails we also like to offer a good range of soft drinks and mocktails. A recent edition to the range has been the Caleño non-alcoholic rums. We stock both the ‘Light and Zesty’  and the ‘Dark & Spicy’

The Dark & Spicy is a particular favourite and served with a coke and lime juice as a Virgin Cuba Libre is particularly good. Well worth a try if you are looking to try something different from your usual non-alcoholic choices.


Mocktail Recipe: Tropical Dark & Stormy

50ml Dark & Spicy
200ml Ginger Ale
15ml Fresh Lime

Pour 50ml of Dark & Spicy over ice, add a generous squeeze of lime and top with ginger ale for a flavour fiesta! Finish with a lime garnish

We hope you’ve enjoyed these tips from the Courtyard Bar, if you click on any of the links to purchase the equipment or ingredients we’ve suggested we may receive a small commission.  We would not recommend anything we aren’t happy to use ourselves.