Everything you need to know about cocktails

I love cocktail do you

Are you feeling more shaken than stirred when it comes to cocktail making? Never fear, we’ve covered off all the basics to making brilliant beverages.

With Summer just around the corner, it’s important to have a few entertaining ideas up your sleeve for when your friends and family pop by. One of the greatest ways to delight your loved ones is with a mean beverage, especially when you’ve mixed it especially for them.

With that in mind, we sat down with Joe Worthington, general manager of Oxford Street’s latest hot-spot, Della Hyde, to give us some expert insight into the world of cocktail making, and answer some of our most pressing questions.

Cocktail terms and definitions

What does it mean when a cocktail says neat, sour, dirty, or on-the-rocks?

Neat: straight up, spirit poured the way the producer meant it – on its own.
Sour: heavily laden with some form of citrus, usually lemon.
Dirty: more often than not, when you ask for a martini dirty it involves olive brine!
On the rocks: cocktail poured over ice.

And what’s the difference between a shaken martini and a stirred one?

Unless you’re James Bond, all martinis should be stirred! Shaken means placing ice in the shaker and giving it a vigorous once over.

Stirring involves just that, stirring the alcohol around in the glass until it is chilled. It results in a smoother, clearer martini as the ice hasn’t been broken up in the drink like it would if it was shaken.

What to serve – and when

What’s the most commonly requested cocktail at Della Hyde?

Probably the negroni or the mojito, and for bartenders, the daiquiri.

What would you recommend for drinking before a meal?

Della Hyde’s Count Negroni – cold drip infused gin, orange bitter liqueur and Dolin Rouge (vermouth) stirred down. This is perfect before a meal as it clears the palate.

What would you serve during a meal?

Wine. I normally wouldn’t drink cocktails during a meal. But if you were that way inclined, go for something light and neutral – like a Tom Collins.
A tip, though; never have more than one cocktail with dinner as it can ruin the meal.

And what would you serve to finish the meal?

Our salted caramel espresso martini – it’s practically dessert in liquid form.

Entertaining for crowds

What’s a good cocktail to serve if you’re having friends over?

Margaritas! Great for girls and boys, we call that a uni-sexual cocktail. At Della Hyde, try Tommy’s Margarita – double shot tequila, agave and lime. Simple ‘n delicious.

What’s a good cocktail to prepare a large amount of (eg. a big jug or bowl for a party)?

The simpler the better: daiquiri or margarita. The classics are the best, that’s why they’re called classics.

A bartender’s secrets

What are some ideal pairings?

Rum ‘n lime! My current favourite at the minute is trying to put something sweet with something typically savoury, like mango and basil or pineapple and chilli!

What are your tips for getting a perfectly frothed egg white?

Using them guns! Give those eggys something to cry about when you shake. Dry shake (without ice) first followed by wet shake.

Tips for beginners

If you’re setting up a liquor cabinet, what would you recommend as the basics?

Pick your favourite from the spirit categories; vodka, gin, rum, tequila and whiskey. That way you please everyone. And don’t forget your liqueurs! I’d recommend Cointreau, Vermouth, Aperol and Tia Maria (for a sweet option).

What are the basic tools you would need?

A cocktail shaker and stirrer are a must, as is ice. It’s also worth investing in a measuring jigger. If you want to get really fancy, look into buying a Perlini; it’s a wonderful tool that carbonates your cocktail – spirits and all!