Mastering home bartending is a breeze—if you’re only in it for a simple Rum & Coke or Gin & Tonic. But if you want to pass for a pro, you need to set aside some time to practice specific techniques. Don’t fret; we’ve created a DIY master class consisting of five classic cocktails to help you learn the basics. Once you’ve got these recipes down, you’ll be well on your way to cocktail Jedi-dom.
101 requirement: Muddling
The first recipe on your cocktail syllabus is about as simple as it gets. One level up from the basic Highball, the Mojito teaches you how to muddle masterfully. Don’t be too rough on those mint leaves or they’ll end up with a bitter taste that not even a healthy dose of rum can cover. Pro tip: Rub a few leaves around the inside of the glass to make sure it’s fully coated with the herb’s oils.
101 requirements: Rimming, shaking
This classic blend of tequila, lime juice and sugar teaches you two home bartending skills at once: rimming a cocktail glass and finding your shake. It’s also a perfect lesson in balancing sour citrus flavors with sugar (or, in this case, agave syrup).
101 requirement: Stirring
Unlike sour cocktails or drinks made with fruit juices, spirit-on-spirit drinks like the Manhattan and its ilk need to be stirred instead of shaken. Since stirring is less aggressive than shaking, the ice doesn’t melt as quickly. It’s enough to chill the cocktail, but it won’t leave it watered down.
101 requirement: Dry shaking
When you feel like you have the shake down, move on to the dry shake. Most often used to emulsify egg whites in drinks like the Gin Fizz, the dry shake happens before any ice is added to the shaker. But be prepared; you’ll have to use some serious elbow grease to break down that egg white and end up with a perfectly frothy and creamy cocktail.
101 requirements: Rolling, making a mix
Though rolling a cocktail—the process of pouring a cocktail back and forth from the glass into a shaker—might be one of the easiest methods to chill and mix a drink, learning how to make a great Bloody Mary is no small feat. Sure, you could just throw vodka and V8 in a glass and call it a day, but it’s worth taking some time to experiment and fine tune your mix with exactly the right spices and sauces. It’s easy to overdo it—especially when garnishes are involved—but once you’ve mastered this classic, your friends will practically beg you to host brunch.