01 Mar Home Bartending Tips & Must-Have Bar Tools From Tony Abou-Ganim
I recently had the pleasure of catching up with my good friend and mentor, Tony Abou-Ganim. We chatted about vodka and Tony’s new Las Vegas restaurant and bar, Libertine Social [you can read about that here].
Tony also shared some excellent bartending tips for the home bartender along with info on the must-have bar tools to make proper cocktails. You can learn about these tips and tools here, with links to purchase the right bar tools for your home bar.
I also asked him if there’s an easy formula for someone who is not a mixologist to follow when creating cocktails. So below you’ll find Tony’s advice and tips on creating cocktails using a simple, easy-to-remember formula. Using the classic Manhattan cocktail as an example, Tony explains how to use this formula to create well-balanced cocktails and how to experiment with your own cocktail variations.
Without further ado, here are Tony’s bartending tips, tools and advice on creating great cocktails.
What are the must-have bar tools for the home bartender?
Well perhaps the chef’s knife of the bartender’s tool kit would have to be the Boston Shaker, including a Hawthorn strainer (ideally also a Julep strainer) and a long handled bar spoon. With this set you can make the majority of classic cocktails.
My personal favorite tool is the hand held lime (citrus) press. Any drink that calls for fresh squeezed lime juice will be improved by hand extracting the juice at the point of making the drink.
Is there a formula for someone who is not a mixologist to follow when creating cocktails?
KISS: Keep It Simple Stupid.
If you follow the basic recipe (formula) of base spirit, modifier, and accents you will be able to fashion the majority of cocktail formulas. Remember that the base spirit should always make up the majority of the cocktail with modifiers and accents complimenting the base spirit and thus making the final cocktail much more than just the sum of the parts.
Let’s take the Manhattan as an example:
- Base Sprit: 2 parts rye whiskey
- Modifier: 1 part sweet vermouth
- Accent: 2-3 dashes Angostura Bitters
Also, again keeping it simple, remember the 2-1-1 equation for sweet and sour drinks, such as a Daiquiri or a Whiskey Sour. If you mix 2 parts of any base spirit with 1 part lemon or lime juice and 1 part simple syrup (1 part sugar – 1 part water) you will always have a well-balanced cocktail as well as the template for building numerous other cocktails and variations.
What are your top home bartending tips for entertaining friends and family?
Here are some key tips to make entertaining at home easy and fun:
- Never overlook the importance of ice! Have plenty of fresh, dry, hard ice on hand.
- Follow the KISS philosophy and keep it simple. The best cocktails are always the simplest.
- Premium spirits and liqueurs, fresh juices, crystal glassware and hand cut garnish equal a great cocktail!
- Squeeze your juices the day you plan to use them.
- Store garnishes, such as onions and olives, in their brine and keep refrigerated.
- Keep a selection of beer, wine and champagne on hand as well as spirits.
- Stock plenty of non-alcoholic drinks for guests who may choose not to enjoy a cocktail. And always encourage the consumption of water while imbibing.
- Keep different bar snacks, such as mixed nuts, cured olives and pretzels on hand.
- Just like in a lounge, the right music will add to your home bar environment.
- Have fun and tipple responsibly!