Classic drinks contain just a few basic elements, learn principles of mixology, and craft your own.

A. Choose your base spirit

Start by picking a foundation liquor, adding 43g to 85g to your mixing glass. (Never build your cocktail over ice – you’ll end up with an overly diluted drink.) As you pour, give your base spirit a sniff and start thinking about the flavours it would work best with.

B. Add a sweet component

Bartenders use sugar the way chefs use salt – as an essential seasoning. Sugar or sugary liqueurs enhance the booze, soothe the alcohol burn and add a layer of flavour. Depending on the drink, you’ll want anywhere from a cube of sugar to 28g of sweet liqueur.

C. Add a bitter (or acidic) component

Infusion dimension into your cocktail by contrasting sweetness with bitterness or acid or both. A good guideline for citrus is one part sour to one and a half parts sweet. With bitters you need only a few dashes. Then shake or stir to create your own cocktail.

D. Garnish with style

A general rule of thumb: if it’s a flavour or a fresh ingredient that’s already in your drink, it makes a great garnish. A fresh lemon twist complements the citrus botanicals in a gin martini. Another route? Think about contrast – a briny olive in your martini will be a salty foil for the gin’s juniper.

Barkeeps superstition

Never garnish with an even number. One cherry or three, thank you. Hey, it couldn’t hurt.

Your To-Drink List

Need some inspiration? Check out these five cocktails from Craig Shapiro, Managing Director of Liquid Chefs.

Blood and Sand

Ingredients
25ml scotch
25ml cherry heering (or other cherry liqueur)
25ml sweet vermouth
50ml fresh orange juice

Method
Shake and strain

Glass
Martini

Garnish
Flamed orange zest

Tequila to go

Ingredients
42ml tequila
21ml elderflower liqueur (other sweet fruit cordial)
85ml ginger beer
21ml fresh lime juice

Method
Add tequila, elderflower liqueur, lime juice, cucumber slices and mint leaves to a shaker. Add ice, shake briefly, and dump into a collins glass. Top up with ginger beer.

Glass
Collins

Garnish
Angostura bitters, fresh cucumber slices and mint.

Ginger Smash

Ingredients
1 fresh root ginger slice
15ml sugar syrup
15ml fresh lemon juice
50ml gin

Method
Muddle the ginger with the sugar syrup. Add other ingredients, and strain over cubed ice.

Glass
Tumbler

Garnish
Ginger slice

Manhattan

Ingredients
50ml bourbon
25ml sweet vermouth
4 dashes angostura bitters
10ml maraschino juice

Method
Shake and strain

Glass
Martini

Garnish
Orange rind and cherry

Hemingway Daiquiri

Ingredients
50ml rum
21ml cherry liqueur
7ml simple syrup
28ml fresh lime juice
21ml fresh grapefruit juice

Method
Shake and strain into a chilled glass

Glass
Martini

Garnish
A lime wheel speared with a tinned cherry