For The Week: Making cocktails at home? Here's how to do it right

Lindsay Guentzel's For The Week column features simple food and drink tips.
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I love trying out different cocktails. The fancier, the better. But I quickly learned that making them is a lot harder at home, especially when you don’t have the right ingredients or tools to get the job done.

Like last weekend when I made scratch margaritas for my boyfriend’s birthday. Do you know how many limes you have to juice to make a scratch margarita? It’s insanity.

But with more people staying at home while we get COVID under control, I wanted to not only share the recipe for one of my favorite cocktails and offer up a few tips that I’ve learned about how to take your at-home cocktail game to the next level.

NOTE: I will be on KARE-11 this Saturday morning Apr. 24 at 8:45 a.m. making some delicious cocktails and mocktails for you to test out at home.

Then I’ll join The Jason Show on FOX-9 next Thursday, Apr. 29th at 10:40am with a bunch of fun Moscow Mule recipes to get you ready for summer!

The Aperol Spritz

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I love an Aperol Spritz because it is light and refreshing yet still full of flavor. How? The Aperol.

Aperol is an Italian aperitif, a typically bitter alcoholic drink served before a meal to whet the appetite. Created in 1919, Aperol became popular after World War II and is known for both its distinctive bright orange color and deeply bitter yet sweet taste.

The recipe is easy to remember as well: 3 to 2 to 1, then garnish. Simply fill a wine glass with ice. Add 3 ounces of Prosecco, 2 ounces of Aperol and 1 ounce of sparkling soda, then garnish with an orange slice or an expressed orange peel.

If you want a bigger, bolder flavor, simply add more Aperol. One thing that is important to keep in mind when shopping for prosecco is to stay away from anything too sweet. The Aperol will add plenty of sweetness to the cocktail so stick with Extra Dry or Brut varieties.

Ingredients

  • 3 oz. Prosecco
  • 2 oz. Aperol
  • 1 oz. Sparkling Soda
  • Orange Slice

Directions

  • Fill wine glass with ice.
  • Add Prosecco, Aperol and club soda.
  • Garnish with an orange slice or express an orange peel over the top of the glass.

Pro Tip: The Aperol Spritz is a great patio pounder – a cocktail you can enjoy outside in the sun without worrying too much about getting out of control because it is relatively low in alcohol content.

Tips for making cocktails and mocktails at home

Buy small

Whenever possible, buy small. What do I mean by that? When shopping for mixers – soda water, tonic, pop – buy the smallest size possible. All of these items tend to go flat very quickly and your house is not a high traffic bar. So you’ll waste less and your drinks will taste better because the ingredients will have just been opened.

Invest in ice

Sure, it is just frozen water. But bad ice is the easiest way to ruin a drink. Easiest fix? Purchase a bag of ice to keep in your freezer to avoid any musty or mildew-tasting drinks. Even better? Swing by a Sonic Drive-In and buy a bag of their nugget ice. The tiny little pebble ice chunks are the cheapest way to take your at-home cocktail game to the next level, especially when it is hot outside!

Have a cocktail jigger handy

Even though you may not own a jigger, you’ve likely already seen one in action. A jigger is a two-sided shot glass that makes measuring out ingredients super simple. One side is small, the other side is larger and then there are typically fill lines on the insides that will help you know exactly how much you are adding. Cocktail jiggers come in handy for drinks with lots of ingredients so if you plan to get fancy this spring and summer, it might be a good time to buy one.

Buy fresh

While I have already complained about juicing limes, I do think it is important to stress the importance of using fresh ingredients whenever possible. A vodka gimlet with fresh lime juice is going to taste very different than a vodka gimlet with bottled lime juice. Fresh juice and herbs will kick everything up a notch – even for your mocktails.

Like Lindsay’s work? Find her recipes, blogs and videos here on Bring Me The News or on her website. Or find her on social media @LindsayGuentzel on Twitter and Facebook.

You can also email her directly at lindsay@bringmethenews.com.

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