The Internet is a grand place to learn new skills for free. But there’s still the question of finding the right sites and apps to go to. If you’re looking to learn the basics of mixology or just get started with cocktails you can make at home, you’re in the right place.
Stocking Your Bar
As an amateur, everything starts with your bar. If you go to search cocktail recipes, you’ll often find several alcohols and liquors that you aren’t stocking. It would be crazy to actually go and buy every bottle. Instead, there are two bar-stocking philosophies that are perfect if you are starting out.
The 9-Bottle Bar: One of my favorite recipe websites, The Kitchn reckons all you need are nine basic bottles. This blog series, now finished, tells you which bottles to buy and why, how they fit into several cocktails, and has plenty of small tips along the way. Don’t forget to check out the comments, The Kitchn’s readers are an enthusiastic lot.
The 12-Bottle Bar: David and Lesley Solmonson have a simple mantra. With just 12 bottles, you can make hundreds of cocktails. If it sounds like a tall claim, think again. Their website is choc-a-bloc full of information about what to buy and what you can make with it. The Solmonsons’ bottles guide has options across budgets, so you can start small and build your way up. If you like what you see, consider buying The 12 Bottle Bar book or ebook.
The Step by Step Guide: DrinkSkool
Between a course on its website and a series of videos on its fantastic YouTube channel, DrinkSkool is the best free series to learn how to make cocktails.
DrinkSkool has broken down learning about mixology into nine easy lessons, which you can go through step by step. Everything is explained in simple language and they recommend a practical way of learning i.e. when you read something, make it in your bar, and only then move on to the next lesson.
Not only that, DrinkSkool’s YouTube channel is the best way to see a video demonstration of basic techniques and learn as you go. It’s not updated regularly, but it’s a good repository and a handy reference guide when you need to look up a technique.
Great YouTube Channels for Mixology
Speaking of YouTube, the video-sharing service has its fair share of fantastic mixologists who are always ready to share their recipes with you, and take you through the process of making a great drink. Here are some of our favorites:
Common Man Cocktails: Derrick Schommer, the host of Common Man Cocktails, is what makes this channel great. Schommer has an infectious enthusiasm for mixing drinks that will get you excited about what he’s making. Some of his newer stuff might seem a little difficult if you are new to mixology, but if you have gone through DrinkSkool’s course, you should be at ease.
Jamie Oliver’s Drinks Tube: Renowned chef Jamie Oliver’s drinks channel is updated regularly, is full of fantastic recipes, and the slick video production will inspire you to get you off your butt and to your bar.
Critical Hit Cocktails: The geeks among you will love this one. Mitch Hutts uses geek pop culture as references to make cool cocktails, from “Donkey Kong’s Tropical Freeze” to “House Baratheon”. You can catch more of Mitch on his blog, The Drunken Moogle.
Participate in a Global Game
Having other people learn with you is a great way of getting better at a skill. If you’re an amateur mixologist, where do you meet fellow amateurs? Here’s where you go:
52 Weeks of Mixology: A community of Redditors is trying something fun. Every week, participants make a new cocktail based on a theme, and share their photos (and recipes, if desired) with the community. It isn’t too active, but if you’re a beginner, you can just go along with it for the inspiration, even if you don’t want to participate. It’s not even at halfway point yet, so not too late to join in.
Mixology Monday: If a new cocktail a week is too much, try a monthly challenge. Mixology Monday is an online community set up in 2006, and quite active even now. You’ll find several season mixologists here, but the community embraces newbies, so don’t be afraid to jump in.
So you just want to make a cocktail without the fuss of actually learning about mixology? No problem, the internet has you covered there too.
Drinks Mixer: This is a well-tagged, large repository of cocktails that you can browse through based on type (cocktail, shot, punch), base ingredient, flavor, temperature, and lots more. It also has a handy glossary and terminology guide to help you out when you don’t understand a recipe.
Cocktail Builder: Cocktail Builder works wonderfully on a desktop or mobile, which is half the reason to like it. The other half is that it’s a search-by-ingredient web app. So you just input the ingredients you have with you, and Cocktail Builder will show you recipes you can make with it. It has a pretty good collection, but what we like is that you don’t need to open a different page for a recipe, it just expands right there—important on a mobile! While you’re at it, check out Cocktail Builder’s blog for some great ideas and tips.
Yummly: Another search-by-ingredient site and app, Yummly searches websites across the internet, which is a way of getting far more recipes than what Drinks Mixer or Cocktail Builder will give you. On a smartphone, it might annoy you to download its app—if you find yourself using it more than Drinks Mixer or Cocktail Builder, you might as well do that.
Tell Us Your Favorite Apps
We’ve covered web apps, websites and YouTube channels, but the world is moving to mobile, so we want to know about the best apps for making cocktails or learning about mixology.
Let’s hear your favorites in the comments below.
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