5 basic rules for preparing a good cocktail at home – Italian Cuisine

5 basic rules for preparing a good cocktail at home


From the essential tools to the choice of ingredients: the bartender Carlo Simbula gives us some advice to take the first steps into the world of drinks

In the event of hunger or a sudden craving for something good, we all have the basics needed to cook at least one pasta dish at home. And if instead our wish was that of a good cocktail, to sip as an aperitif, or as a special after dinner with music in the background? We probably wouldn't be as ready, and we would risk it combine some mess also struggling with a very simple Spritz. Or a more than basic Gin Tonic. «This is because for many of us the drink is still tied exclusively to the world of bars, pubs and discos. And therefore the attention to the simplest passages also fails. But learning, little by little, is absolutely possible, in fact I would say funny . Who speaks, from the back of the elegant counter of the The Spirit of Milan, is the bartender Carlo Simbula, who, armed with a shaker and lots and lots of patience, decided to help us start our domestic journey into the world of cocktails on the right foot. Starting from these 5 basic tips.

The quality of the ingredients

As in the kitchen, when we prepare a roast or a savory pie with mushrooms, even when we are struggling with a drink, we must pay close attention to the ingredients we use. Starting from a quality distillate, be it vodka or rum, is absolutely essential. But be careful not to underestimate the non-alcoholic components of the recipe: a good tonic water, a good ginger beer and even a fresh mint leaf can radically change the final result of our creation.

Photo: Stefano Pesce

The importance of ice

Most of the cocktails we can prepare at home include a generous presence of ice in the glass. Which inevitably goes to melt little by little inside the drink, while we sip it. So it's better not to skimp on the quality of this ingredient: let's prepare it with natural water, maybe boiled first in the pot to remove the coarser impurities. Of course, obtaining a clear and transparent ice like that of the best bars without professional equipment can be very complicated, but obtaining a few well-made cubes at home is also possible.

A small set of tools

Like any self-respecting art, mixology also requires its dedicated tools. To start with, in particular, we recommend two: the shaker, or the sort of reclosable container that allows you to mix with energy – or shake, precisely – the various ingredients before pouring them into the glass; and the jigger, the special measuring cup that allows to keep under control the quantities of alcohol and tonic in addition. Because going to the eye, as they say, can, but it is better to wait until you have accumulated some experience.

Photo: Cristian Castelnuovo

A glass for each cocktail

Sifting through the recipes of the various drinks it is sometimes possible to find a direct reference to the glass to be used for the presentation. This is because – as also happens with wines – shapes, depths and amplitude can enhance or diminish the aromatic and gustatory characteristics of what we are about to sip. In general, however, the advice remains that of not mortifying what we have prepared: no categorical to plastic cups, therefore, and a great yes to a beautiful and functional glass.

Step by step, starting from simple recipes

Just as it is not possible to think of starting your own experience in the kitchen with a Saint Honoré, similarly for cocktails it is better to start with some simple recipe. At least for the first time, therefore, let's forget about drinks based on siphoned or acidic powder ingredients to add to the preparation. Let's focus instead on the various Negroni, Americano and so on: little by little the necessary experience will accumulate to move to more elaborate alternatives. And, why not, to even begin to create something original, launching your creativity with shaker strokes.

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