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.


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