In the old days real men were only allowed to mix alcohol with violence. The most popular cocktail was the ”Whiskey and are you looking at me?” with shattered glass sprinkles. Luckily we’ve advanced from the era where being beaten up counted as shaking your drinks. The modern man is suave, sophisticated, and has found ways to make getting hammered look classy. But far too many men still think pouring Malibu into coke counts as a delicate drink, when it really reveals how you’re both interested in and have the mindset of underage girls. Which is why I’m laying out some brilliant basics of mixology.
Get A Liquor Cabinet
The liquor cabinet is the most miraculously alchemical piece of furniture since the Ark of the Covenant, and serves better drinks. It doesn’t just help turn alcohol into even better alcohol, which is already amazing, but it turns an intervention waiting to happen into a touch of class. If you start gathering random bottles of alcohol, grabbing new ones just because they look like fun, and stacking them around on every surface in your house, people get worried. But when those surfaces are inside a special glass-fronted cupboard which lets you look at them all day, it’s apparently fine!
Filling a liquor cabinet is the only “collecting things” hobby which isn’t terminally boring: stamps, trains, Pokemon…they all cost you money, time, and self-respect, and offer nothing in return. But the more bottles you have, the more brilliant combinations you can make. They’re like a set of alcoholic Constructicons for grownups.
Shake It Baby
The number one mixing mistake is weakly jerking the shaker like an octagenarian enjoying some alone time: a few cursory wrist movements followed by a dribble of underlubricated nastiness. To get the correct motion, imagine you’re describing how you want your cheerleaders to move: vigorously and for as long as possible.
Proper shaking is just as much an ingredient as the liquids — the melted ice and dissolved air changes the drink’s texture, without which many mixes collapse into sickly flatness. Nobody has ever been truly satisfied by just using their wrists — get your whole arm into it, and dear lord please understand the cheerleaders metaphor breaks down here. If your fingers aren’t slightly frozen to the shaker after thirty seconds you’re either in the Sahara or doing it wrong.
Ice Ice (Baby)
The ice-maker has improved the quality of more lives than dialysis machines, and works with much more appetizing fluids. If you don’t have one you should at least double-up on ice trays: one for use, one freezing more as that happens. A single ice tray is a tease: giving you just enough to get interested, and then making you wait far too long. Having only one ice tray means mixing drinks has a refractory period.
The bag of ice is useful for parties, but should only be an extra to your trays or maker. Relying on bagged ice means cocktails now depend on you having done your groceries, as opposed to you just wanting a drink. Which should be both the necessary and sufficient condition for having one.
Get Real Fruit
Getting really fruity isn’t often recommended as a manly activity, because most “manly” guides are more about reassuring an insecure author than informing the reader. If you want real drinks, you need real fruit. Those plastic lemons of juice save time making cocktails the same way drinking your own pee saves money buying beer–it does originally come from the same place, but a lot of things have happened to it since then and you’re sacrificing all your dignity by drinking it. You’re fine with cartons of orange and grapefruit, as they’re providing the base in a less-balanced drink, but when something needs some sour zest you need the real thing. And if squeezing a citrus is too much effort for you, you don’t deserve the good drinks anyway.
Experiment On Yourself
An amateur mixologist is even greater party hazard than a beginner poet: they both desperately want to show off their half-formed mistakes, but people assume that drinks can’t be bad. They are wrong. A poorly-made Martini is a worse chemical weapon than Agent Orange, because at least when you’re crouched in a filthy jungle clutching a machine gun you’re expecting bad things to happen. Especially since the beginner bartender will be demanding to know what people think. Feeding someone experimental chemicals and demanding answers isn’t a party, it’s an interrogation.
Only megavillains mix up new batches of chemical to test on other people. The true hero experiments on himself, and just like in the comic books, every experimental serum you ingest will increase your abilities. Everything you get right is fun, everything you get wrong teaches you another lesson, and hey, they’re both drinks. It’s the funnest thing you can learn without a partner. I know this means mixing and drinking a lot, but damnit man, anything worthwhile takes sacrifice.