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Expert Tips and Tricks for the Home Bartender

Learn the basics of mixology from the comfort of your own home, with the help of SideChef Premium’s network of award-winning cocktail experts.

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Created from scratch in the SideChef Kitchen, where recipe inspiration and ingredient experimentation are a way of life.
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Created from scratch in the SideChef Kitchen, where recipe inspiration and ingredient experimentation are a way of life.
GO TO BLOG

Cocktails can seem like a mysterious art form, the exclusive territory of highbrow bartenders carefully separated from the rest of us by an uncrossable countertop.

But SideChef Premium has partnered up with Mix Lab, presented by Bacardi Limited to bring the drinks back to the people.

No intimidation. No complex recipes. Just delicious cocktails shaken, stirred, and served up by you.

In this exclusive look behind the bar, you’ll learn from a team of professionals who have been racking up awards and honors in their field for years.

Get to know your new mentors, who will be guiding you through the art of at-home bartending, until you can muddle a mean mojito and shake the perfect martini with ease.

Cheers!

Lucky Huang, Mix Lab Manager

Q: What’s your top tip for someone making cocktails at home?

A: You must have ice at home! Ice is a crucial ingredient within mixology. Without ice you won’t be able to make a good cocktail. Be sure to have a well-stocked freezer before you start!

Q: Do I need to refrigerate alcohol?

A: It fully depends on the alcohol. If you plan on drinking it straight, the types of alcohol I would recommend refrigerating include gin because it actually tastes better chilled, and vodka since it originated from cold climate regions such as Russia. But refrigerating these is not required when you want to make a cocktail!

I don’t recommend refrigerating any kind of whisky as it is mainly enjoyed for its complex flavor profile, and it's able to hold more flavor when stored at room temperature. Alcohol can have a strong taste or smell when it’s too warm, or it could lose its smell and taste if it’s too cold - so make sure to leave your whisky out for display!

Jackie Lo, Finalist - Bacardi Legacy Competition, China

Q: How did you get into the industry and what do you love about the craft of bartending?

A: I started my career as a waiter at a bar in 2005. I was invited to a party and saw a female bartender for the first time and I realized that women could also be bartenders! I was incredibly inspired so I decided to learn about different types of alcohol and mixology techniques to make cocktails as a hobby. Three years later, my career led me to become a professional bartender and I’ve never looked back!

Q: What’s your favorite ingredient?

A: There are two special ingredients that I enjoy using — chrysanthemum and ginseng. These ingredients are very common where I’m from in Hong Kong. When I was young, my family added them into tea and also used them in cooking. As a bartender, my passion is to showcase my family’s traditions and culture through the art of cocktails.

Gary Hu, Winner - Patron Global Cocktail Competition

Q: If you could only use one alcohol forever, which would it be?

A: Vermouth, which is a type of fortified wine; this means neutral alcohol has been added to boost its Alcohol by Volume (ABV) and has had a variety of herbs, botanicals, and spices added to evolve its flavor. So it can have a wide range of flavors and “personalities,” from chocolate to herbs to citrus, and it can be enjoyed alone, with soda water, or even with other drinks.

A fun fact is that vermouth should actually be refrigerated for the best flavor, even though it often isn’t. So make sure to put your vermouth in the fridge!

Q: What sparks your passion for bartending?

A: I love bartending competitions because I’m very competitive. I’m also inspired by my surroundings, especially in my city there are so many good quality bars everywhere to spark inspiration! As a community, we can learn and grow together. The friendly competition in the bartending world always makes me want to improve my own skills.

Match Chan, Finalist - Bacardi Legacy Competition, Hong Kong/Macau

Q: What’s the most underrated ingredient?

A: I would say soy milk. Creating a cocktail with soy milk and rum, vodka, or cognac creates a very powerful flavor palette. Peanut is another underrated ingredient. Mixing peanuts with plain liquor, sugar, orange, and water creates a fresh and nutty flavor.

Q: What is the most challenging cocktail you’ve ever made?

A: A Vegan Ramos Gin Fizz! Many bartenders find this cocktail challenging because just shaking the cocktail shaker takes at least 15 minutes to create the creamy foam using aquafaba.

Start your journey and check out the recipes:

PREMIUM
TOMATO-FREE30 OR LESS

Fiero Snowball

Mix Lab Cocktails
PREMIUM
TOMATO-FREEEGG-FREE

Big Meal

Mix Lab Cocktails

With our three-level class, Mix Lab Cocktails Class 1: Beginner Cocktails You Should Know, designed to give you the basic bartending skills you need to make all your favorite cocktails from the comfort of your own home. Soon, you’ll be on your way to serving up drinks with the best of them!

About SideChef Premium

Beyond mixology classes, SideChef Premium also includes 800+ exclusive on-demand cooking classes from world-renowned culinary experts, including the winner of Top Chef Masters, contestants from MasterChef, The Great British Baking Show, and more. Each culinary expert features instructional guidance with step-by-step videos, cooking techniques and tips, and voice-guided cooking. Subscribe to SideChef Premium with a 7-day free trial here.

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