Along with acquiring other handy life skills—like bread-making, video meeting-lighting, and DIY manicuring—many of us became pretty solid amateur mixologists over the past two years. But there’s always room for growth, from simple drinks decent enough for a night bingeing reality shows to an easy-but-still-fancy-AF Johnnie Walker Black cocktail that will leave your squad impressed.
Even if your go-to is a can’t-screw-that-up neat pour, there are plenty of ways to elevate your next boozy night in. We’re serving up everything you need for a fête worthy of a toast, starting with an upgrade to that collection of mismatched glassware you snagged right out of college. Rocks and highball glasses? Look at you, queen!
Glassware to Make Your Bar Cart Look Legit
If you’re going to, “drink a whisky drink and drink a vodka drink, then drink a lager drink and drink a cider drink,” you should really have an array of cups on hand. Because while you could serve up sours, Old Fashioneds, and mules in the same drinkware you use for your morning OJ, there’s something about having the right vessels for each cocktail that will leave you feeling like a pro.
As the name would suggest, rocks glasses are ideal for an on-the-rocks tipple like a whisky pour or other liquor-heavy classics such as an Old Fashioned or Negroni. And a gilded hexagonal screen print like this one adds a bit of Art Deco-inspired flair to a sophisticated glass pick. ($10, crateandbarrel.com)
Your go-to for classic mixed drinks (such as a whisky and soda), clean-lined 15-ounce highball tumblers allow your creations to claim center stage. ($36 for six, williams-sonoma.com)
Does it seem a little silly to have a whole set of drinkware that only serves a few purposes? Perhaps. Will you care when they’re as cute as these hammered, copper-plated Mule mugs? Not even a little. ($20, surlatable.com)
Sure, you can serve up champs in a white wine glass. But if it’s an occasion worth popping bottles over, give the bubbly its due by pouring it into something as fancy-feeling as modern crystal flutes. ($28 for two, bloomingdales.com)
An elegant way to serve up libations that are shaken (or stirred) such as a Manhattan, gold-rimmed, textured coupe glasses will add an extra dose of sparkle to your home bar. ($56 for four, anthropologie.com)
With a smooth fire-polished rim and delicate stem, a martini glass set will make your aperitif look even more sophisticated. ($35 for eight, crateandbarrel.com)
A Customizable Cocktail to Keep in Your Back Pocket
Think outside the mimosa bar: This three-step blend made with single malt and grain whisky-based Johnnie Walker Black can be served up in a variety of ways. The soda or finishers can be swapped out for a number of ingredients, leading to a slew of different drink options. Allow your guests to choose their own adventure by providing carafes of ginger ale, soda water, sparkling peach iced tea, sweet green tea, and a bit of elderflower cordial. And they can experiment with their own take on the three-ingredient, three-step cocktail.
Johnnie & Lemon
1. Pour 1.5 oz. of Johnnie Walker Black over ice.
2. Top with 5 oz. lemon-lime soda. Stir to mix.
3. Finish with lemon zest and a lemon verbena sprig or an orange wedge.
Fancy-Feeling Garnishes to Channel Your Inner Bartender
Listen, citrus wedges and olives are classics for a reason, so definitely have those on hand. But if you really want to have fun with your cocktails, mix ’em up with these elevated accents.
Dress It Up
Spring for some cocktail picks (a stainless-steel set would be nice, but disposable works just fine) for a classy raspberry, strawberry, or blackberry finisher.
Or, for extra creativity points, use hardier herbs like rosemary or lavender as skewers to pierce your favorite fruit.
Practice Your Knife Skills
Level up the citrus wedge by using a paring knife to slice off a string of the lemon, lime, or orange peel for a fun, curly garnish.
Lace your libation with a cucumber ribbon. Run a peeler down the length of your veggie, then thread it onto a pick.
The Greener the Better
Add a bit of greenery with sprigs of lemon verbena, thyme, or mint.
Give your blended beverage a tropical touch by adding pineapple fronds as a final touch to your glass. Before slicing up wedges to use as garnish, pluck the nicest looking leaves from the fruit ahead of time, trim, and set aside for later placement. Or get really fancy with it, using pinking shears to add a textured edge. (Just warn your guests these are for aesthetic purposes only!)
Make It Salty-Sweet
Dress up your drinkware with either a sugared or salted rim. Simply place your sprinkle of choice on a plate or shallow bowl, moisten your glass’ rim with water—or a wedge of fruit—place it upside down in the dish and twist.
Tools That Will Make You Feel Profresh
You’ve shelled out for the proper glassware and some imaginative toppers, so it’s probably also time to mix with something a bit more grown up than the standard teaspoon.
Available in a variety of metallic hues, the Koriko Hawthorne Strainer gets high marks for its super tight coils that effectively separate the liquid of your shaken or stirred drinks from ice chunks or pieces of muddled mint. ($22, cocktailkingdom.com)
Move beyond the eye test and actually measure your mixes with the one- and two-ounce cups in Barfly’s sleek Japanese-style stainless-steel tool. ($12, amazon.com)
Give your creations a fair shake. The 28-ounce size of this double-walled polished stainless-steel shaker allows you to craft an entire batch of boozy drinks in one go. ($60, williams-sonoma.com)
Built for crushing fresh fruits and herbs, this classic lacquered wood pick is lightweight enough for easy maneuvering and long enough to work in any highball. ($8, amazon.com)
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