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Shaking it Up: Secret Tips From Cocktail Experts

Professional cocktail mixology has ascended to such a hyper-creative level these days that it can shake the confidence of those who stir up their own concoctions at home.

But there's no need to put your hobby on ice, according to bartending pros at several of the top-flight lounges in Time Warner Center's The Restaurant and Bar Collection. To help melt the intimidation factor, they're sharing a few of their secret tips for regaining your mojito mojo and sidecar sensibility:


Brad Nugent, beverage director, Center Bar and Porter House Bar and Grill

  • "Measuring ingredients is the single most important step to a delicious product every time. Too many home bartenders employ the ‘eyeball' method when building a drink. Use a jigger."
  • "Know when to stir and know when to shake. A good rule of thumb: If you are mixing all booze, stir it; if there is citrus, give it a shake."
  • "Add ice last. Have your glass and garnish ready, combine all your ingredients in your mixing glass then add ice. Drinks that are watery and over diluted are never delicious."


David Lombardo, wine/beverage director, Landmarc

  • "Make sure to taste before you serve. It's the only way you can understand the balance of flavors in your creation."
  • "Let the ingredients speak for themselves and don't try so hard. Usually, too much is too much. Simplicity is best."
  • "Stock your bar with all the basics: vodka, gin, rum, tequila, triple sec, whiskey, bourbon, bitters and sweet vermouth. This is a great starting point."

Photo credit: Steven Menendez




Photo credit: Steven Menendez




Photo credit: Oleg March



Matija Rajak, lead bartender, Ascent Lounge New York

  • "Use fresh ingredients. Squeezing fresh lime and lemon juice will make your cocktail taste so much better."
  • "Make good ice. Be certain your freezer is clean and odorless.  Use mineral water or boil tap water, let it cool, and then freeze it. The ice will have fewer contaminants and melt more slowly this way. Finally, store the ice in a sealed, airtight bag."
  • "To create a fall cocktail, I like to use seasonal ingredients like pears, apples, cranberries, pomegranate, cinnamon, nutmeg, clove, vanilla, or ginger. Darker, aged spirits are a lot more popular in the fall and winter."

Header photo credit: Steven Menendez

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