You’d think by now we’d all be pros at this stay-at-home business. But for a lot of us, the cooking and entertaining skills are still simmering just around average. So, with the hope of shifting the tipple dial from average to expert, we asked leading Australian bartender Chelsea Catherine for her hot tips on creating the perfect at-home cocktail—just be sure to use a jigger in the process and avoid any unnecessary, accidental hangovers.
Cocktails can often seem like hard work, which is why most people usually pay someone to make them. Not according to Chelsea though. She assures that with a few simple steps, there’s no reason you can’t be whipping up elegant drinks at home too. All you need is: an acid, such as fresh lemon or lime; a sweetener, such as honey or maple syrup; a lengthener of your choice, such as soda or tonic; and a premium vodka that will bring balance to your drinks, such as Pure Origin Tasmanian Vodka. Plus, of course, ice. Once you have those staples, it’s time to kick things off simplistically and build up confidence, starting with an Old Fashioned or a Daiquiri.
Shaken vs Stirred
Everyone knows the classic Bond saying but does anyone actually know what it really means? According to Chelsea, shaking aerates combines ingredients and dilutes. As a general rule, you should shake when you’re making a cocktail containing citrus, egg or egg whites. Whereas stirring combines ingredients, dilutes and offers more control. Stirring is great for booze-forward cocktails with no citrus or egg white.
The Importance Of Ice
There’s nothing chicer than one large square of ice that fits snuggly into the glass. Other than the potential to ooze class, ice is actually one of the most important parts of the cocktail. It should be thoroughly considered. More ice means your drink will be slower to dilute and will taste delicious for longer. When making drinks at home, it’s a good idea to fill your glass with ice just before pouring in your liquid (this will also make you look like you know what you’re doing). Next up, add your cocktail ingredients until they fill the glass two thirds of the way, then pack with more ice and top with the rest of your cocktail. Finally, tap the top ice cube. If it doesn't move, you've done it right. Tricky.
Getting The Glass Right
One of the best things about getting (ever so slightly) older is owning homewares that you’re actually proud of. If you want to get that at-home cocktail right then beautiful glassware is a must. Even if it’s just a set of four glasses to start, that’ll be the perfect amount to serve up a few pro drinks for you and your mates. We've all drunk wine from a mug before and it's just not the same experience. If you’re really limited in terms of the options you have available, try adding some garnishes to give your drink that special touch.
Which brings us to Chelsea’s final tip—the garnish. Don’t go wild with the garnish, it needs to make sense and complement the drink. If you’re adding something that doesn’t quite make sense, it might end up taking away from the drink, rather than adding to it. The garnish needs to have purpose. Opting for garnishes that add aroma such as a mint sprig or orange zest works well. Otherwise, adding flavour with a lemon wedge or just having some fun by adding an umbrella to a tiki drink can work a treat. While all of the above tips are valuable for upping your cocktail game, don’t forget to be creative and have fun too.
Here’s a summery cocktail to try at home—Chelsea Catherine’s current favourite—the Summit to Shore martini, created using Pure Origin Tasmanian vodka.
50ml Pure Origin Tasmanian Vodka
10ml of Cinzano Bianco Vermouth
15ml Cinzano Dry Vermouth
4 cucumber slices
Add Pure Origin Tasmanian Vodka, Cinzano Bianco Vermouth, Cinzano Dry Vermouth, cucumber slices and ice into a mixing tin. Mix all the ingredients until cold. Pour into a pre-chilled martini glass then garnish with cucumber peel and cracked pepper.