Lukus Estok, partner and mixologist at Que lo Que in Woodstock, and frequent collaborator Dylan Figlo share pointers every home bartender should know.
It’s easy to set up a home bar.
Start by storing the ingredients to make three of your favorite cocktails. A home bar can build quite naturally from there. Once you have those, you’ll find you’re just one ingredient short of a new cocktail you want to make, or just two short of something delicious you had at a restaurant.
Shaken or stirred?
Vigorously shaking your drink for 10–15 seconds is typically used for cocktails that contain citrus juice, cream, or egg whites. The shaking motion helps to aerate the mixture, creating a frothy texture. Additionally, the ice in the shaker chills the drink quickly. Stirring a mixture for around 30 seconds is for cocktails that are all alcohol, like martinis or Manhattans. This allows ingredients to blend smoothly and tends to create a clearer, more translucent drink.
Squeeze your own juice.
Fresh citrus, when shaken, gets foamy, which gives a cocktail a better “body” when sipping vs store-bought juice.
Cocktails can generally be prepared a day or two in advance and can be kept for even longer if they don’t include fizzy, citrus, or other perishable elements. Most alcohol, vermouths aside, are shelf stable at room temp, so it’s perfectly fine to mix the liquors if you’re trying to pre-batch before hosting guests; just add your citrus and give your cocktail a quick shake once they arrive. This is a nice hack to limit the time guests are waiting for drinks, while also maintaining a bit of showmanship.