5 of the Biggest Mistakes I Made When Starting Making Drinks
So I started this channel just shy of a year ago and I had an interest in mixology and the various spirits that were involved in cocktails, but other than that I was a complete idiot (hence the site name). When you’re first getting started out making drinks, or for that matter anything, I think you make a lot of mistakes along the way. Here are 5 things that I did when building my bar and making my channel that hopefully you can avoid if you’re interested in making awesome drinks for you and your friends. It’s also possible that it could help you if you’re interested in becoming a bartender down the road. Although I admit I’m not the person for that kind of advice.
1. I picked shitty booze
Here is a nice picture of my first bottles at my home bar.
As you can see I bought total shit. The cheapest versions of Gin, Vodka, and Tequila that I could find. (Actually the Juarez is a mixto.) I also had DeKuyper Amaretto, although it’s not awful it has nothing on DiAmore Amaretto which is about the same price here in PA. Finish that off with Blueberry Schnapps (Who the hell drinks Blueberry Schnapps).
The point is that by starting off with crap I ended up hating most of my early drinks. It’s easy to do when your base spirits are all bargain barrel picks. So remember guys, most of the time with booze you get what you pay for.
2. Used Pre Mixed Sweetners
Whether it be Sweet and Sour Mix, Bloody Mary mix, Mai Tai mix, or Margarita mix these are all sugary piles of garbage. Believe me, I have a lot of experience with garbage. I started out with this awesome stuff only to realize that it wasn’t so awesome afterall.
Of course viewers to my first couple videos tore me apart over it and after trying fresh sour mix compared to the bottled stuff I can see why. Using fresh citrus juice as opposed to concentrated stuff is so much better. If you don’t believe me than try them side by side in drinks. You will not be disappointed.
By the way, my Homemade Sour Mix recipe is right here.
3. Listened to all the wrong people.
If you’ve heard of Skye John from Tipsy Bartender yet have no clue who guys like David Wondrich, Jeffrey Morgenthaler, Dale DeGroff, and Jerry Thomas are than you’re in the same shit creek that I was.
The truth is though, it’s not entirely your fault. Let’s say that I am looking for a cocktail recipe that is well known. So I go to YouTube and punch in something like a Mai Tai. Chances are a guy like Tipsy Bartender comes up towards the top of results. Is this because he’s awesome at what he does?
No, not really. In fact it just means that he is awesome at getting noticed on YouTube and really has great interaction from his viewers. Most of this interaction however, revolves around the girl that is in the videos and has 0 to do with the drink being made.
It’s not just Tipsy I’m picking on here, the guy from American Bartending School is a joke too along with a few others that I can’t seem to remember the names of. Let me just say this, once I saw a person make an Irish Car Bomb with Jack Daniels.
So who is it you should refer to in regards to cocktail making? Well try these channels on YouTube out. (Note that I have no affiliation with any of them.)
- Small Screen Drinks – This channel is well produced and it features greats like Morgenthaler, Robert Hess, and more. It features amazing ways to make classic drinks.
- A Bar Above – This group certainly knows its stuff. A lot of good educational stuff here.
- Common Man Cocktails – A home bartender that really knows his stuff.
4. Failed to Properly Research Drinks
This one and #3 go kind of hand in hand. I would get one recipe listing from various places and not bother to research if it was the right recipe. For example in the 6th edition of the Bartenders Black Book the recipe for a Cosmo looks like this:
3 1/2 oz Vodka, Dash of Triple Sec, Dash of Lime Juice, Dash of Cranberry Juice.
Stir, than strain into a glass with a lime garnish.
Yikes! Now if I did research on the drink I’d know that it was actually created as part of a contest promoting Absolut Citron. Also, the Dale DeGroff recipe that is most commonly accepted actually uses Cointreau instead of Triple Sec and the ratios are way different.
If I made this pile of shit recipe on my channel I think people would tear me a new one yet again. I really don’t care, but I’d rather not look like a moron. I’ll admit to being an Idiot, but a moron is no good.
The bottom line is this: never assume the first recipe you find is the right one. Look around and see what others are doing for the same drink.
5. Created Sugary Diabetes Inducing Drinks
Sugar belongs in cocktails, but only in moderation. The drinks you see now are just jam packed with sugar. Some drinks I see come through my Instagram feed I don’t know where the candy ends and the alcohol begins. Afterall, why do I have to get Diabetes just because I want to chill out for a nice adult beverage.
Hell, why call it an adult beverage when it’s loaded with more sugar than a 6 year old after Trick or Treat? A common ratio for cocktails is 2:1:1. That is 2 parts base liquor, 1 part sweet, 1 part sour. Of course bitters are also in the mix with some recipes so don’t take that as the gospel.
However these drinks are more like 1:5:2 with a huge inclination to load up with sugar. I used to do it, but now I’ve learned a little.
There ya go, 5 things I screwed up when I first began making cocktails. After you do it properly over time you’ll drink something subpar and know it as soon as it hits your lips. So until next time remember that it’s OK to drink like an Idiot.
Researching lady picture is taken from the United Soybean Board and used under Creative Commons License