Essential tips when wanting to make cocktails


We often get contacted by our customers to see if we can provide any guidance or ‘tips’ for making cocktails.  This is quite a BIG question to ask as it does depend on what type of cocktails you are making.  However… there are general things you need to know, keep in mind or might find useful for when you make those tasty cocktails.  I’ve tried to build a small checklist below on how we would plan a cocktail party here at The Cocktail Store.

1. Decide on how many cocktails you are making… Are you making yourself just the one or are you planning on having a party with several guests?

This will allow you to know the quantity of ice, glasses, ingredients for mixing and garnishing you are going to need.

2. Ice. The single most important ingredient and one that is common with almost every cocktail you make.

You can never have too much ice.  You need ice to shake and you need ice to put in your glass.  If you’re having a party I would suggest you pop over to your local supermarket and purchase several bags of ready made ice cubes (usually only £1 a bag).  Ice cube trays are ok if you’re going to make a couple of cocktails but past a couple you will need to either the buy the ice in or if you’re lucky enough to have an ice cube maker, you’re onto a winner!

3. Glasses

There are many different types of glasses, from your common highball glass to your martini glass.  Speaking from experience, it does make a big difference if you have the right glass for your cocktail as there is a reason why some cocktails are served in certain glasses.  Cocktail glasses can be re-used after you or your guests have drank up, but rinse the glasses with cold water and dry with a clean tea-towel, as residue from a previous cocktail will distort the taste of a freshly made cocktail.

Handy tip: Either place your cocktail glasses in the freezer for at least a couple of hours prior to serving your cocktails or fill your cocktail glasses with ice prior to making your cocktails up and discard any ice before serving your cocktails into the glasses.  This way your cocktail glasses will be nicely chilled and ready to be drank from.

4. Ingredients

Yes, everyone knows you can’t make a cocktail without ingredients.  You will know the ingredients from whichever cocktail recipes you decide upon.  However, do you know how much you will need?  That’s an easy answer if it’s only you that’s drinking cocktails but if you’re having a cocktail party it’s a little bit more difficult.


70cl Spirit Bottle = 14 Drinks @ 50ml (double measure)

1 Litre Carton of Mixer = 20 Drinks @ 50ml (double measure)

1 Squeezed Lime = Roughly 35ml of Juice (if you have juicy limes)

1 Squeezed Lemon = Roughly 45ml – 50ml of Juice (if you have juicy lemons)

You are always going to need more mixers than you are alcohol so get stocked up.  If you are having a cocktail party, depending on how many people you are having, I would stick to 2 base spirits i.e. Vodka & Gin cocktails or Whisky & Rum cocktails.

Garnishing: Don’t forget to think about the garnish.  In some cases they add to the taste of the cocktail through other senses such as sight and smell.  Check your cocktail recipe for the type of garnish and calculate how many ingredients you will need for the number of cocktails you are making.

5. Last but not least, the equipment you will need

Well, we’re bound to come up with this one aren’t we? But the equipment you use is another essential part to making cocktails.  You need a good cocktail set, one which consists of the following:

  • Boston Shaker & Mixing Glass or Cobbler Shaker
    • This is what you mix and shake your cocktails in. Which ever type of shaker you have, both are ideal for making any type of cocktail.
  • Strainer (not required if you have opted for a cobbler shaker)
    • A Hawthorn strainer allows you to strain any ice or ingredients away from entering your cocktail glass.
  • Bar Spoon
    • These aren’t like your normal spoon you use when eating your yoghurt, but are characterised by their distinctive long handle. The long handle allows you to stir, churn, swizzle or even muddle ingredients in your cocktail. The spoon also allows you to take measurements of ingredients such as jams, sugars or liquour.
  • Muddler
    • A muddler is used to muddle fruit, spices or herbs to extract their juices into your cocktail. This is usually done in the mixing glass or your cocktail glass.
  • Measure
    • Simple. This allows you to measure your cocktail. A jigger is usually the best tool as it allows you to quickly flick between two different measurements.

Handy Tip: When using a Boston Cocktail Shaker, make sure you add the ingredients into the glass part of the shaker and when placing the tin shaker on top of the glass make sure one side of the inside of the shaker is flush with the glass and give it a solid tap to seal.  This way when you come to stop shaking, tap it where the glass just leaves the inside of the shaker and it should easily break the seal and release the glass.

I hope these simple tips have helped you in some way.  These are the basic essentials when making cocktails, carry these away with you and you’ll be onto making some great tasting cocktails in no time.  If you’re stuck for a few recipes, check our selection out on The Cocktail Store website.  If you want to watch some professional cocktail bartenders mix up some cocktails to show you not only how to make the cocktail but to use the equipment too, check out our cocktail making videos section on The Cocktail Store website.

Thanks for reading and I’ll be back soon.


A Happy New Year! Mixologist Wayne Collins Creates the Nandos Extra Extra Hot PERi-Mary and PERi-rita

We would just like to say a big Happy New Year from us all here at The Cocktail Store.  I hope you have all enjoyed some festive cocktails, we had some great cocktails on Christmas day to welcome the guests in, we opted for some fizz too (any excuse).  Well I though I would welcome in the New Year with a couple of new recipes from celebrity mixologise Wayne Collins created especially for Nando’s.

Catering for the nation’s increasing demand for something spicy, Nando’s fan and celebrity mixologist Wayne Collins has created two fiery bespoke cocktails revealing Nando’s Extra Extra Hot PERi-PERi Sauce as his secret ingredient. His unique recipes combine the piquant flavour of the famous African birds-eye PERi-PERi Chilli (synonymous with Nando’s) with two deliciously refreshing combinations, each designed to tantalise the taste buds and guaranteed to add a kick to the festive proceedings.


The PERi-Mary is a spicier twist on the classic, great to enjoy on a night out or simply when chilling out over a lazy brunch with friends.

Wayne comments:

“This is a fantastic and contemporary twist on the world renowned brunch drink the Bloody Mary but using Nando’s Extra Extra Hot PERi PERi Sauce. The rich and addictive, super spicy kick of this sauce really harmonises with the fresh sweetness of the bell pepper and juicy tomato so no need for any extra spicy seasoning – Nando’s has it all!”


- 2 x 25ml measures of vodka infused with ½ teaspoon of Nando’s Extra Extra Hot PERi PERi Sauce

- 1 pinch sea salt

- 5ml freshly squeezed lime juice

- 1 teaspoon tomato ketchup

- 25ml freshly extracted bell pepper juice

- 50ml pressed tomato juice


An elegant and sharp drink which combines fresh lime juice which, coupled with the warm heat of tequila makes it the ideal thirst quencher, suitable for any cocktail party.

Wayne describes:

“This is a tantalising and morish take on the classic margarita with fresh agave sweetened lime given a kick with a good jerk of Nando’s Extra Extra Hot PERi PERi Sauce that is all at once calmed and cooled with fresh crushed cucumber.”


- ½ teaspoon Nando’s Extra Extra Hot PERi-PERi Sauce

- 1 x 25 ml measures of Tequila

- 1 x tablespoon of chopped cucumber

- 20ml fresh squeezed lime juice

- 10ml agave syrup

If you don’t know where to buy the Nando’s Extra Extra Hot PERi-PERi Sauce, it has an rrp of £1.99 for a 125ml bottle and is available to buy from Asda, Tesco, Nando’s restaurants and online at

Well, there are going to be plenty updates throughout the coming months with the latest recipes, product reviews and new launches of course!  It is going to be an exciting year for us here at The Cocktail Store and look forward to hearing all about your cocktails!

Enjoy responsibly,


Did you watch Kirsty & Phils Perfect Christmas? A Spiced Pear Martini Anyone?


I’ve just finished watching Kirsty and Phil’s Perfect Christmas on channel 4.  I thought you may be interested in knowing the recipe for the Spiced Pear Martini… Here it is:

Spiced Pear Martini

Spiced Pear Martini

- 50ml pear vodka
- A splash of sugar syrup
- Juice of half a lemon
- 50ml of ginger liqueur
- A scrape of cloves

Add the sugar syrup to the pear vodka.

Squeeze the lemon and add the juice to your vodka and syrup mix.

Pour in the ginger liqueur.

Add plenty of ice and a sprinkling of cloves.

Shake, strain, garnish with a thin slice of pear and serve!


Something for this Snowy Day…


Well, we have had some heavy snow here at The Cocktail Store HQ and we’re literally around 2 feet deep in snow. So, today is classed as a Snow Day, staff can’t get in and nobody can get to us. What better way to take this day to enjoy a winter warmer cocktail. It will certainly give you that warm christmassy feeling and if you’re enjoying a snow day today what better way to enjoy it than with a cocktail.

For the spiced Cognac
  • 1 x 750ml/1 pint 7fl oz bottle Cognac
  • 1 litre/1 pint 15fl oz fresh orange juice
  • 6 cloves
  • 4 cinnamon sticks
  • 2 teaspoons allspice
  • 2 star anise
For the winter warmer
  • 200ml/7fl oz cloudy apple juice, heated in a saucepan
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • pinch allspice
  • 2 tsp lemon juice
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • 50ml/1¾fl oz spiced Cognac
To garnish
  • 1 tsp chopped apple
  • 1 tsp chopped cucumber
  • 1 tsp chopped fresh mint leaves
  • 1 tsp chopped orange
  • 1 tsp chopped lemon


1. For the spiced Cognac, a week before you plan to make the cocktail, place all of the spiced Cognac ingredients into a jug and mix well. Transfer to a large bottle and seal the top. Leave to rest in a warm place (room temperature) for a week. Shake the bottle gently each day to mix the flavours.

2. To make the winter warmer, place the apple juice, cinnamon stick and allspice into a saucepan and place over a low heat. Warm through, but do not boil, then remove from the heat.

3. Place the sugar and lemon juice into a glass, add the spiced Cognac and hot apple juice and stir.

4. Garnish with the mixed chopped fruit and serve.

Thanks for reading. Take advantage of this snow day by visiting The Cocktail Store for some fantastic cocktail gift sets.

We’re back…


Firstly, I would like to apologise for not updating the blog as frequent as I should be. It has been a while and I promise that I will be updating it more often!  We’ve been working hard at The Cocktail Store and we’ve moved premises… Not once.. But twice!  So that’s my apology over and done with.  Lets get down to something that is coming up in a mere 49 days.  Whats that I here you ask??  Christmas!

We will be attending the Festive Gift Fair at the NEC in a couple of weeks and would love to see you there!  We have been given a fair few free tickets, so if any of you want to attend on one of the days please drop us a comment on this blog post or drop me an email at and title the subject festive gift fair tickets. First come first served I’m afraid but if you’re one of the lucky ones, I will get the tickets sent out to you (max 4 per person).

Well, that’s my update for a couple of months, I will be back again soon with some cocktail recipes that are perfect for these cold dark nights.

Until next time