Mixed Drinks 101


It takes artistry and plenty of practice to perfect the technique of mixing drinks and cocktails. That should not be taken as discouragement for someone just getting started. By understanding some basics of mixing drinks as well as some established do’s and don’ts, you too can start mixing drinks with the same flair and aplomb as that bartender in your favorite fancy bar. Indeed, whether your guests prefer their cocktails shaken or stirred, you can learn to be the perfect host by following our beginner’s guide to making the perfect mixed drink.

Some Essential Tips on Mixing Drinks

1. A Balanced Drink is Always Better than a Strong One

Among the ingredients you will be using to make your mixed drinks there will always be some which are strong to the taste or more intoxicating than others. Your goal should always be to achieve a mix that brings out the best balance in the tastes rather than getting the most potent mix.

2. How to Tell if a Drink is Properly Mixed

Professional bartenders always seem to turn out perfectly mixed drinks. How do they manage to do that every time? Because they know how to tell if a drink is properly mixed or not. If the mixing is overdone, the right taste will not be manifested. The same is true if the mixing is inadequate.

So, how do you tell if a drink is fully and properly mixed? That depends on whether you are shaking or stirring to mix the ingredients:-

-When making a stirred mixed drink, always observe the edges of the ice cubes keenly. When the edges become rounded and the cubes lose all their sharpness, your cocktail is ready to be served.

– If you are making a shaken mixed drink, the point to stop shaking is when the metal shaker develops a light frost on the outside.

Some Basic Do’s and Don’ts of Mixing Drinks

To ensure your mixed drinks meet the highest standards, always keep these Do’s and Don’ts at your fingertips:-


1. Do Make Allowance for Water in the Ice

A vast proportion of mixed drinks require some ice cubes to get them to the right temperature. However, you should be aware that some, if not most, of that ice will melt as the drink is being taken. As such, you should make proper allowance for this or else your mixed drink will be diluted too much to have the desired taste.

2. Do Get your Ratios Correct

While we have already pronounced mixing drinks as an art, there is a science to it too. This comes when getting the ratios right. You cannot afford to use rough estimates if you are to get the best possible taste. To get your ratios right on, use the correct implements for the job. These include a jigger (a small measuring cup graduated in ounces). Just as well, make use of recommended free-flow pourers to avoid spills.

3. Do Get your Garnish Right

Some people may consider garnishing mixed drinks as a superfluous gimmick used by fancy barmen to make drinks more expensive. However, there is much more to garnishing than mere aesthetics. If you are using fresh herbs for garnishing, clap them between the palms of your hands in order to release essential flavors and oils. If you are using the more common citrus peel, ensure you squeeze the slice of the fruit (with the skin down) over the drink first.

4. Do use Fresh Ice

Many aspiring drink mixers are always surprised that there is such a thing as bad ice. Ice which has been sitting in the freezer too long is no good for your mixed drinks. The longer it stays there, the more it takes in the subtle smell and tastes of the freezer. Always use the freshest ice to mix your drinks.


1. Don’t Muddle all Ingredients the Same

Take time to learn about the peculiarities of each ingredient going into your mixed drink. Some ingredients such as citrus will call for vigorous muddling but some fresh herbs should be treated very gently.

2. Don’t Go Cheap

There is no way around this one. If you are looking to make quality mixed drinks, you cannot afford to use cheap alternatives for any of your ingredients.

3. Don’t Use the Wrong Glass

Mixed drinks and cocktails are as much about the presentation as they are about the taste. To play the perfect host, invest in a set of appropriate cocktail glasses.