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Much like cooking, mixing even the most basic cocktails properly requires a set of fundamental techniques. You can enhance your repertoire by mastering a few more elaborate ones, like pouring a float or rimming a glass, and count on impressing your guests with drinks that go above and beyond.

HOW TO…

 

  • Size a drink recipe up or down

    The key is to determine the ratios of the drink you’re making. Once you’ve got those down, you can make more or less of any recipe as long as you maintain those same proportions. If you have a recipe for one cocktail and want to serve 6 people, just multiply each ingredient amount by 6. To make a pitcher, fill up the pitcher with water first and pour it out into a measuring cup to determine the exact amount you need.
     
  • Float something on top

    For this layered drink technique, where one liquid ingredient is poured on top of another, always begin with the lowest proof or heaviest liqueur on the bottom. Pour each subsequent ingredient into the glass very slowly over an inverted teaspoon (rounded side up).
     
  • Make ice cubes

    Due to various chemical reactions, ice made with tap water comes out opaque. To make stronger and clearer ice cubes in your home, boil your water first, or use filtered water, always letting it come to room temp before freezing.
     
  • Rim a cocktail

    The first step is to wet the rim of the class. You can use any liquid (something slightly syrupy or containing sugar works best), taking care to moisten about a quarter-inch of the outside rim of the glass. Place a few tablespoons of a powdered rimming mixture on a small plate and, holding the glass at a 45-degree angle, rotate the outer rim through the powder.
     
  • Make oleo-saccharum

    This aromatic paste, used in cocktails and punches since the 19th century, is made by steeping citrus zest in sugar, which draws out the aromatic oils.
     

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