The Home Bartender: Sours, Sprays & Smoke

It’s The Home Bartender time! This monthly feature caters to those of you who are not necessarily working bartenders but who are really interested in drinking better cocktails and learning how to make cocktails at home. Each month our Home Bartender expert, Matej Novak, will run you through a new topic. This month he gets fancy with those cocktails you are making: Sours, Sprays and Smoke!

You’re probably not getting regular deliveries of eggs, produce or ice at home. You may not go through certain ingredients fast enough to justify keeping them on hand. But none of that means you can’t still make great cocktails at home. On the one hand, being a home bartender means you can get away with some things you might not do at a bar. On the other, there are some impressive results that aren’t all that difficult to achieve. Here are few items you can buy to impress your guests:
  1. Egg whites: Having to break an egg, separate the white and discard the yolk each time you want to make a sour is a pain, but you can buy small cartons of pasteurized egg whites that make the job much easier. Just add 0.5 oz. to your cocktail.
  2. Milk frother: These electric whisks are usually used to froth milk when making a latte, but they’re also perfect for emulsifying your sour ingredients before adding the ice and shaking.
  3. Mister: Originally used to carry small amounts of perfume in a pocket or purse, misters (also called atomizers) are a great way to coat the inside of a glass with absinthe when making a Sazerac or to add some smoky Scotch or Mezcal to the top of a drink to finish it.
  4. Brandy snifter: Speaking of smoke, simply light some rosemary (or other herb; get creative), put it on a plate and cover it with an inverted snifter. Let it fill with the smoke while you make your cocktail, then turn it right side up and pour your cocktail inside before pouring it into your serving glass.

All these things are easy to get, relatively cheap and useful beyond the drinks and techniques mentioned about. Play around with them to see what you come up with (bonus points for using them all in the same drink).

Matej Novak
Matej is a writer and cocktail enthusiast living in Kingston, Ontario. He’s annoyed bartenders with endless questions in cities including Toronto, New York, San Francisco, Portland, Prague, London and Tokyo. He’s also amassed more cocktail tools and accoutrements than with which he knows what to do (told you he’s a writer). Don’t be like Matej. Learn from his mistakes — and his successes — instead.
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