It’s definitely been a while since the last time we’ve been able to chill out at a bar, and it’ll take some time till we can visit our favourite haunts. However, for those of you who can’t wait, now’s a perfect time to spruce up your home bars and experiment with your favourite drinks for the people you live with! We’ve spoken to a few bartenders from various bars across Singapore for some advice on what you need to get started. With some advice from the professionals and plenty of time to practice, you’ll be able to sip on your favourite drinks from the comfort of your own home.
For the first installment of our home bar series, we’ve spoken to Andrew Loudon, the Head Bartender of Tippling Club Singapore.
Boasting an enticing menu of unique signature cocktails and innovative cuisine, Tippling Club has been ranked as one of the best bars and restaurants in Asia — a double recognition that makes this bar and dining concept stand out. What’s just as refreshing is that they’re constantly coming up with new conceptual menus; most recently, a gummy bear-cocktail menu of our deepest Dreams and Desires, and A Guide To Modern Drinking, culinary cocktails inspired by chef Auguste Escoffier’s A Guide To Modern Cooking, which takes us along for a wonderful ride.
With an almost 20-year long bartending career, Andrew has given us a few expert tips for anyone hoping to try their hand at bartending at home.
Not everyone has their home bars stocked with professional tools, and that’s fine! Andrew has suggested a couple of tools we can use that most of us already have in our kitchens. One of the most important aspects of bartending is knowing your ratios — too much or too little of something can really affect how your drink tastes.
“Everybody needs something that will give them the ability to measure. One of the best things people can use is just an egg cup — what you would use for a boiled egg. That would give you a perfect ratio of your ingredients if you want to use it in that way. Most egg cups are about 50 millilitres in general, so that would be the best piece of equipment that you could possibly have.
Secondly, you need something to shake with. So that can either be a cocktail shaker, or it can be a jam jar. Either one works perfectly. Just something that seals the liquid inside, and you’re able to give that a little bit of aeration and dilution too. And a spoon, as well — any type of spoon.”
“That’s a tough one. I mean, I love Martinis, so a bottle of gin and a bottle of vermouth is your perfect kind of strong drink solution. Or a bottle of bourbon and a bottle of sweet vermouth, and you’ve got a Manhattan right there. So it’s just simple stuff, stuff that really allows you to make numerous drinks with the minimum amount of ingredients and tools. I think that’s best. If you want something more refreshing — something sour, something sweet and something strong.”
On Martinis and Manhattans
“Two of the most simple cocktails to make, a Martini and a Manhattan — only two or three ingredient drinks, but the variations can be huge. For a Martini, you can make it 6 parts gin to 1 part vermouth, 7 to 1, 10 to 1, depending on how strong you like it. Or you can regress it all and make it weaker, and you can increase the vermouth to the gin ratio. And have a 2 to 1 or a 1 to 1 Martini, or a 5 parts vermouth and 1 part gin martini to be more apéritif style. I think the amount of variation that you get with those two-ingredient drinks is fantastic. It gives you a lot to play with, and it allows home bartenders to experience different dilution rates and different flavour rates with what they’re using. For me, this is quite interesting, in terms of developing your preferred style of that kind of drink, because that can be very personal as well.”
Two Drinks Everyone Will Love
“In a bar situation, it depends on how well you make them, but I would think that a Mojito is great to make at home, because it gives you a lot of interaction with the ingredients that you have. As for Piña Coladas — generally, everyone enjoys a Piña Colada when it’s made. Anything that has that hint of alcohol, a hint of some sourness and a little bit of sweetness that comes through as well. Those drinks generally tend to wean very, very well. And another drink that would be good to make at home is a Clover Club. So basically a Gin Sour, with raspberries. Very, very simple ingredients — basically five in total, but something that is almost foolproof if you apply the right kind of ratios to the drink.”
“A Highball. The easiest drink in the world. It’s just any spirit of choice, so it generally tends to be a darker spirit, such as scotch. Or you can use rum, cognac, American whiskey, Irish whiskey…and the presentations are kind of endless with it, but it’s just whatever your chosen base for it is, topped with soda, and a lemon zest. If I’m feeling a little more fancy, I’ll put some dry sherry in there as well.”
What Does He Make At Home?
“Probably my favourite drink would be a Vieux Carre, which is a very classic, New Orleans style drink that’s almost halfway between an Old-Fashioned and a Manhattan. Vieux Carre means “old square” in French, because it’s created in the French quarter in New Orleans, at the Carousel Bar. It’s rye whiskey with cognac, sweet vermouth, benedictine and some bitters. I generally tend to never order it when I’m out at a bar, but I will make it for myself numerous times if I can. It’s nice and flavourful, it has a little sweetness to it, has some nice dryness from the rye whiskey and the cognac. It’s a very, very nice drink.”
A Few Things To Keep In Mind When Bartending At Home
Always Taste Your Drink Before You Serve It
“When a new bartender tends to start making drinks, it’s important to think about the flavours that should be apparent in the drink, and if they’re not there, to adjust them accordingly. People tend to taste, but never adjust. Let’s say if you’ve made a sour cocktail — if it’s slightly too sour, you should always add a little bit more sweetness. If it’s slightly too sweet, you should always add a little bit more sour, and if it’s not too strong, add a little bit more spirit, etc.”
Freeze Your Spirits…
“If you’re making Manhattans or Martinis at home, one of the best things to do would be to store your spirit in the freezer, so it’s extra cold. So if it’s a Martini, if you put your gin or vodka in the freezer beforehand, it will take longer to add the dilution to the drink, but you’ll get a colder drink by the end of it. And a colder drink generally tends to be a nicer drink.”
But Not All Of Them.
“There are a couple of drinks that I would never put the spirit into the freezer for. If you’re making a warm drink, like a Hot Toddy or Irish Coffee, obviously the warmer those drinks are, they tend to be a bit better. But for most shaken or stirred drinks, the colder they are the better they will come across.”
If you’re a little nervous about making your own cocktails, Tippling Club is currently open for takeaway and delivery, for both food and beverages. Each signature cocktail comes in a bottle, although garnishes won’t be provided due to their fragility. Gummy Bears + Happiness ($25) is also a must-try — featuring the citrusy, tequila-based Happiness cocktail from the Dreams & Desires menu, along with 24 gummy bears. Also available are select wines and sake from the Tippling cellars — pair a bottle with something from their set menu and you’re good to go.
For more information on Tippling Club, visit tipplingclub.com.