Intro to Mixology: Up your cocktail game in 30 minutes!

April Wachtel, NYC Based Cocktail Instructor

Play Speed
  • 0.5x
  • 1x (Normal)
  • 1.25x
  • 1.5x
  • 2x
6 Lessons (36m)
    • 1. Introduction

    • 2. Tools and Space

    • 3. A Word on Ingredients

    • 4. Basic Techniques

    • 5. Garnishes

    • 6. The Assignment

33 students are watching this class

Project Description

Add your favorite fruits or herbs to create your very own custom sour-style cocktail!


Guys, as we discussed in the video, the deliverable for your class project is to create your own custom sour-style cocktail incorporating a fresh fruit or herb of your choice!!

You can do this by choosing a spirit that you love, the citrus you want to use, and your preferred sweetener.

Add a fruit or herb of your choice, muddle, shake, strain, and garnish, and take a photo of your custom cocktail for the rest of us to see!! If you need more in depth instruction or get stuck, there is a very detailed 'How-To' below!!

Tips on Drink Photography

A quick note on drink photos- it's easiest to get a great cocktail photo in natural light with a clean tabletop and an uncluttered background. Also, make sure you don't get too close to the cocktail- it will look best with some space around it. 

Here are two photos of what not to do, and what to do. This first photo is an example of a drink that might be delicious- but the photo was taken far too close to the drink with a funny angle, and poor lighting. The background could have been nice, but you can barely see past the drink. 

This second photo is one I took with my iphone in fantastic lighting with a thoughtful background. Of course I touched up the brightness a bit, but you can see that the setup is the most important part!!



Background, and How to Make your Custom Cocktail (in detail!)

'Sours' are a classification of drinks in the beverage world, and are a great jumping off point to start learning about ratios and experimentation!

A sour is composed of:

  • a spirit (vodka, gin, rum, tequila, mezcal, brandy, whisk(e)y, etc)
  • a citrus (lemon or lime)
  • a sweet (any syrup including simple, honey, agave etc OR a sweet liqueur)

And its as simple as that! The Daiquiri, Margarita, Sidecar, Whiskey Sour, and many many more drinks are part of this category.

The beauty of learning how to make a sour as your first drink is that it easily demonstrates the power of ratios, and serves as a great base for layering on additional flavors. It also shows how quickly you can up your game, by being more selective about ingredients (ie, you heard in the video, NEVER use frozen juice or juice from concentrate if you can avoid it....fresh juice will up your game EXPONENTIALLY!!!!

Common Ratios
The three components above (spirit/citrus/sweet) exist in relationship to each other, and are written in a recipe in that order. I'll list a few options below so you can start improvising. All measurements will be in fluid ounces. I'll write out the first example, then use short hand for the following examples.

  • Like dry and boozy drinks? Try 2 oz spirit, .5 oz citrus, and .5 oz sweet

  • Like juicier, less boozy drinks? Try 1.5/.75/.75

  • Like juicy AND boozy?? Try 2/.75/.75

  • Like sweeter drinks? Drop the amount of citrus for any of the above ratios by .25 oz and leave the quantity of sweet the same OR increase it by .25!! Do the opposite if you prefer a tart drink

If you got confused at all, just remember we are writing these in the order of spirit/citrus/sweet, and that you can substitute any spirit in for another, lemon or lime in for each other, and any sweetener into this ratio and it will work!!

So let's get to it...

  1. Assemble your tools
    You should have a Boston Shaker, a Hawthorne Strainer, Jiggers, a muddler, a knife and cutting board, a citrus press, and ice and an ice scoop. Speed pourers (like I have on my bottles in the video) are inexpensive and make life exponentially easier!

  2. Choose your base spirit
    Are you a Vodka person? Rum? Tequila? Brandy? Whisk(e)y? (*By the way, Scotch, Bourbon and Rye are all types of Whisk(e)y)

  3. Choose your sweet component
    If you want to incorporate flavor by using a flavored liqueur, go for it! St Germain (elderflower), Cassis (blackcurrant), Cointreau (orange), and Framboise (raspberry) are great candidates.

    If you want to just go with a simple syrup like I did in the video, that's just as easy. Besides the simple syrup I demoed in the video, you can make Honey syrup, Maple Syrup, and Agave syrup in the same fashion, but with different ratios.

    Honey and Maple tend to be best 2:1 (ie, 2 parts Honey to 1 part hot water), while Agave is most commonly prepped with 3:1.)

    **The reason we blend this with water is that none of these syrups will incorporate with your cocktail unless you do! They will just freeze up on the insides of your shaker, leaving you with a sour, imblanced drink.

    If you're preparing syrup for multiple cocktails, funnel into a bottle and add a speed pourer.

  4. Choose, squeeze and strain fresh citrus
    You can squeeze each piece of fruit to order, but if you're making more than one drink I would recommend pre-juicing for your own sanity;)

    Limes will yield roughly .5-1 oz of juice, and Lemons will yield 1-1.5 (or if you're very lucky, up to 2 oz!) 

    If you're squeezing a bunch of juice, funnel into a bottle and add a speed pourer.

  5. Choose your additional flavor component!
    Do you like strawberries and basil? Blackberries and sage? Jalapeño and cilantro? Choose one or two additional flavors and add them to your mixing tin or mixing glass first.


  6. Prepare your cocktail!!
    First, chill the glass you'll be drinking from- add ice, a splash of water, and set aside.

    Build your drink in the smaller of the two shakers. Add your fruit and/or herbs first. If you're muddling fruit, bash away with your muddler. If you're muddling herbs, be a bit more gentle. I like to add the sweet component in so when I muddle, there's a little cushion and oils from the herbs blend with the syrup/liqueur.

    Add all liquid ingredients, fill with ice, and shake and strain into your glass! If you're serving it on the rocks, pour over fresh ice- do not reuse the shaking ice.

    Garnish, take a photo for the class project gallery and sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labors!

    Happy tinkering, and let me know if you have questions or comments! 

Student Projects

project card
project card
project card
1 comment
project card
Marvin Qian
project card
Eric Martin
1 comment
project card
Tabatha Omlid
project card
project card
Greg Tarr
project card
1 comment