Good ice is the key to a good drink and just to clarify, ice bought from the supermarket or service station is not good ice,” explains Dan Knight, Restaurant Manager at Sydney’s Longrain and author of The Small Business Samurai. “Instead, every time you have a clean, empty ice cream or take away container fill it with filtered water and freeze. Then you have a giant block of quality ice that you can use to cut, crack or chip as you need. You know those giant blocks of ice that you get in really good bars when you order an Old Fashioned or a Negroni? This is how they start their life.
For punch that doesn’t lose its flavour as it sits out in the sun, Dan advises to freeze juice and fruit pieces in an ice cream container before popping it into your punch. “You'll have big blocks of multi-coloured ice chilling your punch which looks great and doesn't dilute the flavour of the punch while it melts,” he says.
It’s everyone’s favourite cocktail, but there’s one easy hack that will make your Espresso Martini taste as good as if it was prepared by a pro. “If you are planning on serving Espresso Martinis this holiday season think ahead and make your espresso a few hours before and chill it in the fridge,” advises Dan. “Using hot espresso melts the ice when you shake, leading to more dilution, a weaker drink and general all round disappointment. Don't be that person.”
Want fancy cocktails without forking out for all the equipment? According to Kurtis Bosley, Group Mixologist at Public House Management Group you can get by with what’s already in your cupboard. “You don’t need to have a professional shaker to make amazing shaken cocktails like the margarita,” says Kurt. “Keep your old jam jars, wash them out and use them to shake your cocktails.”
Half drunk bottles of wine are just part and parcel of the party season, but rather than letting them go to waste, put them to deliciously good use by mixing them together. “You can keep half drunk bottles of white or red wine, mix them together (ensuring white stays with white and red stays with red) and use them in a sangria recipe,” says Kurt.
It’s a bartender’s best friend when it comes to adding citrus flavour to cocktails, and for those who want to experiment with oleo-saccharum (if you want to impress your friends, tell them it's Latin for 'oil sugar') here’s an easy DIY hack. “Don’t waste your citrus husks when juicing lemons, limes or oranges, put them in a bowl with sugar to make your own oleo-saccharums,” says Kurt.
If you're a spirit drinker and looking to spice things up, you can change the flavour with herbs and other household items. "Herbs, spices and wild fruits are a great addition to the usual whisky, gin, vodka or tequila. With this method you can finally personalise your favourite spirit without having to wait long time for an infusion," says Matteo Belkeziz, mixologist at Sydney's Bar Machiavelli. "Choose your herb, spice or fruit and place it inside a whipped cream siphon. Fill it with the selected booze, seal it and charge it with one or two NO2 gas cartridges, depending on how strong you want the infusion and how full the siphon. Twirl it few times and let it rest for a little bit. Slowly release the gas from the siphon avoiding the liquid to come out, and once the gas is all gone open the container and strain the booze from the herbs and spices. Let it rest few minutes and enjoy an original infused spirit to be sipped like it is or to be used as base for your best cocktail."