Mastering the art of alcohol-free home bartending isn’t all that different from becoming a talented traditional home bartender: you just need the right equipment and a bit of practice. In Part II of our series highlighting how to take your alcohol-free mixology game up a notch, we cover more tools, tips, and techniques to discover on your journey to crafting non-alcoholic cocktails like a pro. See Part I here HOW TO BE A BETTER (ALCOHOL-FREE) HOME BARTENDER: PART I
Know your glassware
A diverse selection of glassware improves the aesthetic of your cocktails, but there are also deeper reasons to stock your alcohol-free home bar with various types of glasses. Your glass choice impacts everything from how long your drink stays cold to your ability to smell its flavours as you sip, which is why cocktail recipes typically suggest serving the finished drink in a particular type of glass.
Here are a few basics to consider investing in:
Coupe Glass: This stemmed glass features a wide mouth and a shallow, curved bowl. Its delicate size and shape make it best suited to cocktails are shaken or stirred separately with ice and are then served in the chilled coupe without ice. Use a coupe glass for the Bees Zero Knees or the White O Cosmo.
Collins/Highball Glass: These tall, skinny glasses are a handy staple to have ready for serving various mixed drinks. Technically, the two glasses are a little different -- a collins glass is taller and narrower than a highball glass -- but they’re similar enough that one or the other is generally sufficient for a burgeoning alcohol-free home bartender. Use these to serve the Hound or the Sunrise with Guava.
Rocks Glass: This is a short, straight-sided tumbler that often has a heavy bottom. Also known as an old-fashioned glass or lowball glass, this glass is typically used for cocktails that are built in the glass or served over ice. A double rocks glass is about two ounces larger than a single rocks glass. Use a rock glass to serve the Lo-Groni or or the Pineapple Express.
Copper Mug: Best known as the serving vessel for a Moscow Mule, a copper mug is a great go-to for any cocktail that you want to keep extra cold. Some also theorize that the copper oxidizes slightly as you drink, boosting the flavour of the ginger beer, vodka, and lime in a Moscow Mule (or the flavours of the alcohol-free Strawberry Jalapeno-0-Mule.
Whether or not you use the recommended glassware, consider chilling your glass before serving your cocktail. You can cool off your glass in the freezer or fill it with ice and cold water to chill while you mix your drink. Either way, your drink will stay chilled for longer as you sip.
Mix it right
We mix traditional and alcohol-free cocktails not only to incorporate the ingredients but to chill and dilute our drink. Generally, it’s best to stir drinks with lighter mixers and shake drinks with thicker, more flavourful mixers, such as fruit juices, egg whites, or cream. Shaking adds texture and also adds a larger amount of water to your drink.
Keep in mind that if you’re shaking with large ice cubes, you’ll need to shake a little longer to make sure that the desired dilution happens; whereas if you’re working with small cubes, you’ll need to be sure not to shake for too long so you don’t over-dilute your cocktail.
Get good with garnishes
In addition to adding an artful finish to your drink, garnishes add subtle flavour. They may be small but don’t underestimate the impact a garnish can have on the overall experience of your drink.
Twists: A twist refers to a long, curled piece of citrus peel or zest. To make a twist, use a vegetable peeler to shave off a piece of citrus skin, trying not to pick up the white pith underneath the peel, which has a more bitter flavour. Squeeze the piece of peel over the drink to express some aromatic oils and then rub it around the lip of the glass. Finally, twist the peel into a curly shape and drop it into your drink.
Wheels: To make a citrus wheel, slice the fruit into thin, crosswise slices. You’ll generally want to use whole wheels for lemons and limes and half wheels for oranges and grapefruits. Cut a slit from the center of one slice to a single edge. Balance the slice on the rim of the glass or float it on top of the drink.
Herbs: Save the nicest herb sprigs for garnishes and use lower or less attractive leaves for muddling. Slap the sprig between your palms to release its aromatic oils before placing it in the drink.