The Local Palate Newsletter
Sign up to recieve news, updates, recipes, cocktails and web exclusives about food culture in the south

Share this article via email


Save 69% off of newsstand price now!

Subscribe to The Local Palate
Savor the South eNewsletter Subscribe Send as Gift Customer Service App Store Google Play

3 Steps to
Handcrafted Cocktails


If you can make a highball,

meaning ice, one mixer, and one alcohol, then craft cocktails are only steps away. As always, it’s all about the details. We’ll take you through the three key components to mixing up a perfect drink at home.

Photo by Andrew Cebulka

Up Your Ice Game

Quality cocktail bars have ice programs where they strive to achieve the perfect ice for each cocktail. Knowing how ice changes a beverage as it melts is part of the bartender’s skill. You need not go to that extreme, but these two ice cube trays will help you achieve the most common two ice shapes for craft cocktails (big square and big round). One big piece melts slower, and thus dilutes more slowly.

Sphere Ice Molds
Silicone King Cube Tray

Tovolo Sphere Ice Molds. Photo courtesy of Tovolo.

Mix it up

These are typically the ingredients front and center in your at-home cocktail. If you start with interesting mixers, you get interesting drinks. Once you get the basics, many of the following can be used in combination to really mix things up.

TLP Recommended Mixers. Photo by Andrew Cebulka

A Few TLP Favorites

Bittermilk is an office favorite.
They’ve got a wide variety of flavors, but we’re partial to No. 2 – Tom Collins with Elderflowers and Hops.

Jack Rudy Cocktail Co. Small Batch Tonic.
It’s become a modern classic. You’ll see it on many professional bars, so make sure and add it to yours. 

Otherwise known as drinking vinegars, shrubs add a refreshing complexity to a drink. Shrub Drinks out of Texas makes a great variety, including Pear Ginger and Prickly Pear. Our favorite was the Strawberry, Balsamic, and Black Pepper for a fresh take on a strawberry cocktail.

These are the sweet to shrub’s sour.
Use alone or with club soda: We suggest Lemon Cherry Echinacea from Blue Blaze Soda and Syrup Co. It’s a crowd-pleaser that plays well with gin, tequila, and even bourbon. 

Get the good stuff

Bartender’s choice. (That means you.) Have fun! We always suggest experimenting with local, artisan distillers.

Extra credit:
Get bitter with it

One bottle will do you, but be warned, they are highly collectible once you know how to employ them. Add more panache to prosecco, amp up a classic gin and tonic, or top off some tequila in your margarita. We suggest the distinctive Bittermens Burlesque Bitters.