In the lead up to World Class Cocktail Week, we thought we’d ask a pro for his cocktail-making tips. Jack Sotti is a bartender at Boilermaker House, and the 2015 World Class Australian Bartender of the Year.
Despite Sotti’s credentials, his number-one piece of cocktail-related advice is to have fun. “Don’t take yourself too seriously,” he says. “You’re making a drink for people who are out to have a good time.”
So, by all means, keep those paper umbrellas. Here are some of Sotti’s key tips for home drinking.
Get your ice right
If you don’t like ice in your drinks at all, you’re better off making a drink that tastes good at room temperature.
“Cocktails need ice,” Sotti says. “You need to add as much ice as possible until you physically can’t fit anymore in. If you put in only a couple of cubes, it’ll melt in two minutes and make your drink warm and watery.”
He also recommends using fresh ice. “Ice is porous and soaks up flavours around it, so often the ice in your freezer can take on the taste of last-night’s leftovers. Just buy ice when you need it and store it in a separate Esky.”
Learn your ratios
Making cocktails is all about getting the balance of flavour right. It’s crucial to follow the measurements in a recipe precisely, unlike with cooking, where you can improvise a little.
The 3:2:1 ratio is one Sotti recommends learning. Comprising three parts spirit, two sweet and one sour, the ingredients can be swapped to your liking to make any classic “sour”.
Sotti says the way bartenders know hundreds of different cocktail recipes is committing to memory the “Magnificent 7" (the punch; milk punch; sling; the cocktail; the sour; the collins; the highball) – seven drink styles and ratios that are the foundations for any cocktail. “Once you learn it, you can freestyle and sub in homemade sweetener, or swap lemon juice for lime juice, the list goes on,” he says.
Forgo the fancy tools
If you want to invest in a snazzy shaker and bar for the home, by all means do. But cocktails can be made with lots of things you most likely already have in your kitchen.
“As long as you’ve got a small shot glass and anything you can fill up with your ingredients, ice, and shake – for example a jam jar or mason jar – you’ll be set,” Sotti says.
This article is presented in partnership with World Class.