Necessity is the mother of invention—especially when you’re thirsty. Faced with poorly stocked bars and ravaged fixins containers, bartenders have devised some ingenious solutions for mixing up great cocktails in a pinch. Now, we’re passing those brilliant tips on to you. From a quick way to chill a bottle to an instant simple syrup alternative, here are a few hacks to help upgrade your bar game.
Use Jam in Place of Simple Syrup
If you’ve run out of sugar to make simple syrup, don’t have a working stove or microwave handy, or you just don’t want to bother whipping up a batch of that all-important cocktail ingredient, you can always use jam. Fruity strawberry jam, spicy ginger preserves, earthy, sweet fig jam or pretty much any other fruit preserve can all be shaken directly into a cocktail. A few of our favorites are orange marmalade in a Whiskey Sour, blackberry jam in a Bramble and cranberry preserves (or sauce) in a Cosmopolitan—just be sure to double-strain to remove any jammy chunks.
Make Fresh Whipped Cream in a Cocktail Shaker
Whipping cream by hand is a Sisyphean task, a test of both your physical stamina and mental stability. But the result is so much better than the store bought stuff, which should only be enjoyed straight from can, directly into your mouth. If you often find yourself working up a sweat making a topping for your Irish Coffee or spiked Gingerbread Latte, consider using your cocktail shaker as a shortcut. Simply pour some chilled heavy cream in the shaker, along with the spring from your strainer (some proponents say it helps aerate the cream), and shake for 30 seconds to a minute. Voila! Artisanal whipped cream in record time.
Rapidly Chill a Bottle With Salted Ice Water
Chilling a cocktail is easy, but chilling down a whole bottle of booze requires some stronger mixology magic—well, science, actually. First, add water to your ice bucket to fill the gaps between the ice with liquid, which transfers heat away from the bottle more effectively than air. Then, add salt to the mix to lower the freezing temperature of the liquid, causing more ice to melt. The ice fuels its melting with the energy (heat) from the bottle, rapidly chilling it down. No more warm prosecco in your Bellinis.
Keep Big Batches of Manhattans and Martinis in the Freezer
Mixing up drink after drink at a party is no fun. Pouring perfectly made Manhattans straight from a bottle, on the other hand, is very fun. Because they don’t freeze, spirit-only cocktails are ripe for batching out before a party—or a long week. But before you go stirring up Martinis by the dozen, remember to dilute your boozy work of art to replace the water normally introduced by ice. About one quarter of your total mixture should be water—so, for a 16-ounce bottle of Martinis, you would mix 10 ounces gin with 2 ounces vermouth and 4 ounces water. Bonus: Freezing the pre-made cocktail not only brings the mix down to the perfect temperature, it also creates a wonderfully silky texture.
Instantly Infuse Booze With a Whipped Cream Cannister
An iSi Cream Whipper is a serious investment, but it’s worth it if you want your flavored booze fast. This miracle invention cuts infusing time down so much that chefs and bartenders refer to it as “the time machine.” As instructed by Sother Teague, simply add a base spirit and a few infusion ingredients to the canister, pop in a NO2 cartridge and compress for one minute, then replace with a fresh cartridge and compress again while shaking for a minute more. Let out the gas into a glass and then pour out your insta-infused liquor.