Insider tips for making the perfect cocktail

Jules Aron

Based in New York City, Jules Aron is a mixologist, beverage consultant, and green lifestyle expert. For over twelve years she has been tending bar at some of Manhattan’s finest dining establishments, hot spot nightclubs, swanky rooftop bars, and favorite happy hour spots. Her favorite remains the charming neighborhood bar, where connections are strong and far more personable. She is deeply passionate about a healthy, wholesome lifestyle that includes delicious, nutritious foods that fuel the body, mind and spirit(s)! She has just released her first book, Zen and Tonic: Savory and Fresh Cocktails for the Enlightened Drinker. (Enter our contest for your chance to win a copy of the book.)

We asked Jules to discuss her perspective on making great cocktails. She provided us with excellent advice to share with EYB Members: 

Mixing the right cocktail is all about playing to the strengths of your ingredients. Fresh ingredients such as herbs, fruits and vegetables add depth and complexity to cocktails, without the need for artificial fillers and sweeteners, keeping your drinks light, fresh and boasting with flavor.

Here are my insider tips for making the perfect cocktail:

Quality Spirits:

Choose quality alcohol for the same reasons you buy quality food: to avoid artificial additives, and to help promote sustainable practices – and because it tastes great and its absence of chemicals lessens hangovers.

Fresh Ingredients:

When making cocktails with freshly squeezed, muddled or blended herbs, fruits, flowers and veggies, its especially important to go as natural as possible with all your ingredients.

To keep your herbs fresh for cocktails, store your hardier herbs like rosemary, thyme, and sage, in a zip-lock bag, wrapped in a dry paper towel. For tender herbs such as cilantro and parsley, store upright in a mason jar, like flowers in water, keeping the tops of those herbs tightly covered.

To get more juice from your citrus fruit, roll your lemons and limes on a hard surface before cutting into them.

Chilled Glassware:

A nice chilled glass will keep your cocktail cooler longer. Place your glass in the freezer for 10 minutes before serving. Alternatively, you can fill your glass with ice and club soda for a few minutes.

Correct Measurements:

A stronger drink is not, necessarily, a better drink. For a perfectly balanced cocktail, follow the recipe and use proper measurements.

Mixers Matter:

Just as important as your other ingredients, the mixers you choose should be of a premium quality.

The Importance of Ice:

Ice plays a paramount role in a cocktail. Always use distilled water to create crystal clear cubes.

The 101 on glassware:

Stemware is designed to keep fingers from warming up the glass.

The wider the mouth, the more the drink comes in contact with oxygen, affecting the taste.

The narrow opening of a champagne flute keeps champagne sparkling, while the wider bowl of a martini glass keeps the ingredients from separating.

How Sweet it is:

Sweetness is a key component to any good drink, helping balance acid, bitterness and even alcohol. Swap your regular simple syrup and processed sugars for these natural ones for a healthy dose of sweet nutrients. Here’s my recommended list of natural sweeteners to keep your drinks naturally sweet.

Made of 100% pure coconut tree sap, raw coconut nectar is an amber colored, low-glycemic sweetener contains 17 amino acids and several minerals.

Blackstrap molasses is a fantastic sweetener that will add complexity and subtle sweetness to cocktails while also adding a dose of healthy minerals to your libation.

Researchers refer to maple syrup as an “anti-oxidant cocktail of beneficial compounds” that contains some of the beneficial compounds of berries, teas, and flax seeds. Make sure to buy 100% Maple Syrup.

Date Sugar is 100% dehydrated dates ground into small pieces. It is a whole food, high in fiber, vitamins, and minerals.

According to Ayurvedic medicine, honey is revered as one of the five elixirs of immortality.  Although, not a vegan option, honey has so many healing and restorative properties, it remains one of my top sweeteners of choice.  

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