Did you know that Ernest Hemingway invented a cocktail called Death in the Afternoon? It consisted of only absinthe and champagne.

Most cocktails should have at least one spirit and one flavorful ingredient like fruit, cream, or liqueur. Hemingway made one of the biggest cocktail making errors when he mixed that drink!

When you’re mixing cocktails at home, it’s easy to make simple mistakes. But if you want to improve your mixology skills then you need to know what not to do. Don’t worry, this guide lists the most common errors to avoid.

1. Not Knowing When to Shake or Stir

Everyone knows that James Bond liked to drink his Vesper Martini shaken, not stirred. He was right to specify because you can shake or stir this cocktail. But there are strict rules with other cocktails.

If a cocktail contains only liqueur and bitters (like an Old Fashioned) then you stir it. But if it’s a more complicated cocktail with many ingredients (like a Margarita) then you should shake it.

2. Using the Wrong Type of Ice

No one likes watery cocktails. And if you use regular store-bought ice or fill your ice cube trays from your tap, that will be the result.

You should make ice for cocktails using boiling water from your kettle. This will remove any air trapped in the ice cube so it stays cooler for longer. Invest in a strong silicone ice cube tray as it will be easier to remove the ice cubes without breaking them.

3. Subpar Ingredients and Equipment

This is one of the most common cocktail making errors that at-home bartenders make. If you have spirits that are out of date, you shouldn’t use them as ingredients for cocktails. Only use the best, high-quality liqueurs and mixers from places like niyis.co.uk.

You should also only use the best cocktail-making equipment. Cheap strainers will let herbs and fruit seep into the cocktail instead of only infusing it. Investing in a jigger will also allow you to pour the exact measures you need instead of guessing. 

4. Pairing the Wrong Cocktails

Wine pairings with food are common practice but pairing cocktails with meals is growing in popularity. But, it’s not an instinct to know which cocktails should go with which meals. You need to learn the right ones.

If you are serving red meat and cheese then choose whiskey-based cocktails. Vodka is perfect to pair with cured meats and charcuterie boards. And opt for gin cocktails for lighter meals like fish and salad.

When in doubt, stick to cuisines. You cannot go wrong serving Margaritas with tacos!

Shake Off These Cocktail Making Errors

Some might forgive one or two cocktail making errors when you are a beginner. But, now you know better, you will be able to improve your mixology skills to become the best cocktail maker you can be.

There are so many more food and drink errors you might be making without realizing. Browse our food articles for lots of expert culinary advice!