Nowadays, being a great host goes beyond opening a great bottle of wine. Times have changed and now, if you want to be known as a superb host who throws killer brunches, pre-party parties, house parties or even after-parties you’re gonna have to get some cocktail-making skills under your belt. This may seem like a tricky trait to master, especially when you look at the precision and ease with which professional bartenders mix their delicious concoctions, but trust us, all you need is a bit of general guidance and some practice you’ll be able to get it just right every time, so let’s jump right in.

The power of three

The first and essential thing you need to know about cocktails is that they revolve around the mighty three – something sweet, something sour and of course, the glue that holds it all together – alcohol. All your favorite cocktails – Margarita, Gimlet, and Daiquiri follow this golden rule. You want your ratio to be 1:1:2, meaning, one part sweetener, one part sour and two parts alcohol. Once you’ve mastered the basics you can mix and match to create different drinks. For instance, by replacing lemon juice with lime juice in a Gimlet and adding soda you get a Tom Collins. Swap the soda for champagne and you’ve got yourself a French 75.

Get creative

Once you’ve created the base, you need to mind the details as these are highly appreciated in a cocktail. So, once you’ve created a drink that’s spectacular in terms of flavor and display of color, you need to ‘decorate’ it. Add ice on cool summer days, and always rim the glass with complementary flavors. Depending on what drinks you’re making the glass should be rimmed with either salt, sugar, ginger, lemon, caramelized sugar or basil.

Don’t be stingy

When we say stingy we don’t only refer to the amount of alcohol but the quality of it. You most definitely can’t create a fabulous drink without using high-quality alcoholic beverages. Let’s say you’re throwing a brunch; we all know that fantastic mimosas are the crucial element of every great brunch. Therefore, you don’t want to go with a 2 dollar wine. No, for this you’re going to need premium quality natural wine, great juice and you can even add a scoop of sorbet in the bottom of the glass before pouring the bubbly as this adds to the great presentation. You can keep the juice – wine ratio 1:1, like in the original recipe, or, depending on how tipsy you want your guests to be, skimp on the juice and tone up the wine.

Improvise

You aren’t expected to have all the equipment professional bartenders have, but that shouldn’t stand in the way of you making professional-tasting cocktails. So, if you don’t own a shaker, that’s totally ok, because there’s a way to work around this. That’s exactly why we have mason jars. These make for a great substitute for a shaker and they also allow you to create small individual drinks for each guest. In addition to that, they save you from having to mix and then pour the drink as you can use the jar for serving as well.

Become the master of layering

In order to create diverse mixes, layering is a professional technique you’ll need to master. What this means is that you need to learn what the density of ingredients you pour is, and then do it gradually. You want the sugary parts to sit at the bottom while the pure liquor sits on top. The best way to achieve this is with a crafty usage of the bar spoon. Always place the spoon on the side of a glass, slowly pour the contents of your cocktail, and then finish things off with a strong spirit.