Sep 6, 2022
The Best Cocktail Content Creators for Home Bar Enthusiasts
How to make professional-looking cocktails at home
That internet is rammed full of people telling you what they think they know about cocktails. You know the drill, someone posts their life story before showing you a recipe that includes shop-bought premixes and some very dodgy photos of tepid-looking drinks in mason jars. We’ve all tasted this kind of cocktail in real life, and it’s not a pleasant experience. But tip towards the other end of the spectrum, and you've got professional bartenders sharing exquisite-looking drinks with hardly any details on how to make them. The trick is finding a writer who knows their audience — the home bartending enthusiast — but also knows their onions when concocting good cocktails.
Like most things, making cocktails combines the art of simplicity in the process and the complexity of knowledge in the preparation. So we asked drinks writer and ex-cocktail bartender Emily Goodman which bloggers she thinks will get your cocktails on point.
I'll start with JJ Goodman because he is perhaps the most famous and owns the most bars out of all the writers I’ll talk about. He also doesn't technically write a blog. So I’ll break all the rules before I even start. He did, however, write a fantastic book called Kitchen Cocktails that I recommend any home bar enthusiast reads before they even begin to build a cocktail bar at home.
Why? JJ has won global cocktail competitions, been on 50 most influential people and 30 under 30 press lists, and he and his business partner won BBC Two’s gastronomic reality TV show The Restaurant in 2009. He owns Cocktail Club, a multisite brand with venues in London, Bristol, Reading, Exeter, Cardiff and Birmingham that began with a small basement bar just off Shaftesbury Avenue. He also founded Night cap Plc (an umbrella for the Adventure Bar, Barrio Bar Familia and Cocktail Club brands) and Nightcap Bar Academy, a staff training and retention hub.
His book Kitchen Cocktails; recipes of the London Cocktail Club was explicitly written for people who need to make cocktails in the kitchen at home using a supermarket budget and widely available products. Home bartenders are his audience; he doesn't shy away from that to make himself look big or clever. This is a bible and reference book rolled into one. Start here, and you won't go wrong.
The second person I recommend is well-known in the drinks industry. Simon Difford started working in the drinks trade selling spirit and liquors in the nineties, then went on to found Class bar magazine and later the Difford’s Guide, both of which are still running.
However, it's the latter that home bartenders will really find useful. While Class bar magazine is an industry-lead publication, the Difford’s Guide is a vast online compendium of cocktails used by consumers and professionals alike. Look up any drink, and you'll find the recipe in millilitres, ounces or ratios. You'll get advice on which brands to use and where you can buy them and a little potted history of each cocktail that is both thorough and entertaining.
Delving into History
Speaking of history, if you like to delve deep into the annals of time to help you connect with a recipe, then you need to check out Dr Adam Elan-Elmegirab. He is an award-winning bartender who began blogging about the origins of classic cocktails when the internet was in its infancy. Through his practice of researching old recipes and then writing about them on his blog, he was driven to search for products that have gone out of fashion. Specifically, he looked for Boker’s Bitters because it was used in possibly the first martini recipe ever recorded, a drink called the Martinez.
He found that Boker’s Bitters was no longer in use nor available to buy. So to make his cocktail in the most traditional way, he sourced an ancient bottle of it on eBay and began backwards engineering the flavours to recreate a supply for himself.
He wrote about this process on his blog, and people were so interested that they began writing to him to ask for some for their own use. Soon he was bottling and selling the little tinctures from his home in Aberdeen to bartenders all over the globe. He grew his range and invented some of his own products. He now owns a spirit and liqueur distillery called The House of Botanicals, from where he creates several traditional cocktail ingredients.
It helps with cocktails, as in literature, to get to grips with the classics, so you have a solid foundation of understanding and techniques to begin exploring your own recipes.
Unfortunately, many of his original blog posts don’t exist anymore, but he is a brilliant content creator, and his website, The House of Botanicals, has links to a newsletter, and various social media accounts where he posts ‘How To’ videos for loads of fantastic classic cocktails.
I realise this list is very male-dominated so far, and I want you to know that I include this next writer not because she is a woman but because she belongs here in her own right. Emma Stokes, aka Gin Monkey, is a force of nature. Science buff by day and gin lush by night, she is the co-creator of World Gin Day and has written three essential posts on her Gin Monkey website 1) how to make a gin and tonic at home, 2) how to order a martini and 3) how to make gin at home. These three fundamentals are worth reading if you’re interested in working around the gin category.
I couldn’t leave without mentioning someone a generation younger than me. It wouldn’t be fair or proper. Yes, Pip Jolley is an influencer, but she is incredibly good at her job, and her side hustle @Drinkswithbarberella is everything a home bar should be. Fun, spontaneous, a bit OTT and everything is made with easily sourced ingredients that aren’t going to break the bank. If you’ve done some homework and now you want to have some fun, she has plenty of inspiration for both recipes and the visual presentation of garnishing homemade cocktails. Neither is easy to do without a professional bar set up behind you.
Let’s Get Professional
So, let’s say that you’ve done a grounding in the classics, tried the irreverent and fun, and now you want to get your teeth into something trickier. Now is the time to introduce Vlad the Slick Bartender. Not only is he a top-of-his-game professional, but he also makes YouTube videos that deconstruct some of the more complicated professional bartending tricks so you can do them at home. For example, his ‘How to Make Clear Ice at Home’ video will help you get the kind of ice you’ll find in five-star hotels using practical home bar equipment.
Brilliant, thanks, Emily! And now that you’ve got some support from the people of the internet on how to make professional-looking cocktails at home, you could take a look at our cocktail recipe page. It’ll show you a range of recipes you can use alongside our Flavour Blaster Mini. A home bar tool introduced after the incredible global success of our professional bar tool, which made its debut in 2019. We developed it with you in mind, allowing aspiring home bartenders just like you to garnish your cocktails in brand new ways!