Why Cocktails Taste Better at a Bar, Photo by Engin Akyurt on Pexels
Have you ever compared the taste of cocktails you drink at a bar to the ones you make at home? If so, you’d likely notice that bar cocktails taste better more often than not. Don’t worry, it has nothing to do with you. Instead, bars have a few tricks behind their high-quality cocktails. We asked a bar owner what the secrets are, and we will share them with you.
High-Quality Liquor, Photo by Chris F on Pexels
Bars usually source their liquor to a wholesaler or distributor so they can get more liquor for a lower price than what you see at liquor stores. Also, bars are usually pretty good at picking which brand of liquor they would stock. They avoid liquors that are highly priced only due to their marketing or packaging and instead opt for liquors that are high quality.
This strategy grants them not only better quality liquor but also more variety. As much as a simple cocktail can satisfy your thirst, sometimes there’s always that itch for something more complex and rich. For this reason, bars stock everything they need from imported amaro, to local spirits, to flavored liquors.
However, this doesn’t mean that you should go for cheap liquor to make your homemade cocktails. The way cheaper liquor is processed causes it to contain more congeners, which triggers hangovers more easily. Of course, the amount of alcohol you drink plays the biggest role. But if you have some money to spare, a slightly more expensive liquor is always worth it.
Illustration of Variety of Ingredients, Photo by energepic.com on Pexels
As with their liquor, bars are prepared with various ingredients to make any kind of cocktail, with all kinds of modifications. From bitters, syrups, juices, garnishes, and ice, they have it all. From then, it’s all about mixing and matching, to find something unique and special for everyone.
But, variety is not enough without quality and freshness. After all, the quality and freshness of your cocktail can be the difference between a fine drinking experience and a one-star review. Bars understand this, which is why they take the time and effort to squeeze fresh lemons and limes instead of using store-bought juice, making simple syrups with infusions and flavourings, and even hand-picking the best bitters.
Illustration of Person Preparing Drinks, Photo by Cottonbro Studio on Pexels
One last cool detail in bar-made cocktails is the ice (pun intended). You’ve probably seen videos of bartenders using one big cube of ice for a glass of cocktail. If you think that’s simply for aesthetic reasons, we’re here to tell you otherwise. Ice melts (big surprise), and the water can “weaken” the taste of the drink (a.k.a. dilution). Using one big ice cube slows down the melting process so you can enjoy your drink for longer without having the taste fade away.
Illustration of a Bar Preparing Drinks, Photo by Cottonbro Studio on Pexels
If chefs take pride in their knives, bartenders are meticulous about their tools. These tools include shakers, mixing glasses, bar spoons, jiggers, and strainers. Each of them serves its function. While it seems like a minor difference, the results highly contrast with one another.
Illustration of High-Quality Glassware, Photo by Dziana Hasanbekava on Pexels
Now, there’s no denying that a regular mug will hold your cocktail, the way that cocktail glassware is designed is not just for the looks. Some glasses are designed to preserve the drink’s temperature, some are designed to fit a bigger ice cube, and some open up the drink’s aroma better.
If you want to get serious with your homemade cocktail-making, we’d recommend getting yourself a muddler, a double jigger, a stirring spoon, a shaker and a fine-mesh strainer. Additionally, a martini glass or two will guarantee to make you feel like drinking at a bar.
Illustration of Bar Atmosphere, Photo by Adrien Olichon on Pexels
Try to imagine yourself in a bar holding a glass of cocktail. Feel the atmosphere, the lighting, the jazzy background music, and the occasional chit-chat in the background that barely gets into your ear. Comparing it to your home or apartment, chances are you’re more likely able to fully enjoy your cocktail in the cozy atmosphere at a bar than at home.
Bars offer more than drinks. They offer an experience, and for some people, an escape. To achieve this, they make sure their place presents a certain atmosphere, or vibe, as young people call it. Some bars are cozy, some are high-energy, and some are romantic.
Illustration of Bar Expertise, Photo by Antoni Shkraba on Pexels
Perhaps this goes without saying, but our previous points become possible thanks to the expertise of everyone involved. Bartenders at high-end bars are professionals with years of experience. They usually keep their drink recipes in a notebook and their brain. They know which components from a cocktail they can customize to make the different results. Plus, they know which brand offers the best quality for the right price.
The next time you visit a bar, try to talk to the bartender about the product they’re serving. Experienced bartenders will know everything they need to know about the product. Some bartenders pride themselves when they talk about their product knowledge because they get to share their experience. Who knows, their knowledge or their love for bartending and drinks will rub off on you.