At the end of August in our in-house bar at the European Bartender School Headquarters in Barcelona, we opened our doors to six lucky competition winners from Barcelona City FM. These cocktail lovers came with one goal in common, to find out how simple it really is to make quality homemade cocktails.

So how easy is it really to make show-stoppingly good homemade cocktails from the ingredients that you find lying around in your cupboards? Can we really make mixed drinks out of loose lying lemons and half used tubs of store brand peanut butter?

We enlisted the help of Gavin Wrigley, Head of the European Bartender School's Education Department to teach us how to turn bolognese into Bloody Marys, and how to make the perfect G and T, all from the comfort of your own kitchen.

Gavin Wrigley Teacher EBS

 

One thing about Gavin, don’t call him a mixologist, he’s not a fan of the pretension that often comes with the name! A mixologist makes only the drinks, but a bartender makes all these drinks and more. The bartender engages with the people in front of them.

So what did we learn with Gavin? Does a magician ever reveal his secrets? Read on to find out!

Homemade cocktails – turn bolognese into a bloody mary

tomato juice cocktail

Meaty Spaghetti Bolognese, mixed with the Prohibition-era Bloody Mary, how does this work? Surprisingly, it tastes delicious! To make this taste sensation, mix 12cl of bolognese sauce with 3cl of red wine vinegar. Strange combination, but the vinegar cuts through the oil in the bolognese and they complement each other excellently. Use this new juice that you’ve made and mix it up with your original Bloody Mary ingredients to create your gluten-free, dinner time drink.

Glass: Highball

Method: Roll

Ice: None

Ingredients:

  • 12cl Bolognese sauce
  • 3cl Red Wine Vinegar
  • 5cl vodka
  • A pinch of black pepper
  • A pinch of ground Himalayan salt, celery salt (or other high quality salt)
  • Tabasco 3 dashes (or to taste)
  • Worcestershire 4 dashes (or to taste)
  • 1cl lemon juice

Garnish: a celery stick and a cocktail stick of manzanilla olives and chorizo

HOW DO YOU MAKE THE PERFECT GIN AND TONIC?

gin and tonic with cucumber garnish

This is one of the perfect homemade cocktails as it can be updated in so many different ways. The drink has come back into fashion again recently due to its versatility in drinks. To infuse, or not to infuse? In a fishbowl glass bigger than your head, or in a teacup? Gavin gave us his opinion on the perfect G and T.

So what’s his preference? The glass is important, it should be a highball glass, you won’t find any fish swimming in this one! His favourite type of gin? Tanqueray is his chosen poison for this mixed drink.

His feelings on infusing your own gin at home? If you’re going to do it yourself, the zing is key. Think citrus fruits, they work best for short term infusions, and who really wants to wait that long for a gin and tonic anyway?!

What is a michelada?

Impress your guests with a Mexican style cocktail that they’ve probably never even heard of before! A great alternative to your average beer that can be created with everything you already have in your kitchen. So how do you make a michelada? First, take a beer out the fridge and mix in a glass with some tomato juice.

Now it’s time to turn to the often forgotten spice rack at the back of your cupboard. Look for some chilli flakes, chicken stock and if there’s some Worcestershire sauce or hot sauce in there even better! Add a few dashes of hot sauce and a few chilli flakes, garnish with lime and salt, and there you have it, a michelada!

The drink originates from Mexico, but has many stories of how it was invented, some say it was created by a man named Michel who mixed it with his lemonade (limonada), to create a Michel-ada. Another story of how the drink came to be is that “my cold beer” in Mexican Spanish translates to Mi chela helada, which can be shortened to, you’ve guessed it, a michelada! Whatever the story of its creation is, it’s one of the homemade cocktails that you’ll want to make again and again. 

Try making one the next time the sun comes out to spice things up.

Which cocktail has the most ingredients?

Cocktail making ingredients

There’s always one cocktail that takes that bit longer to make at the bar. Whether it’s muddling a mojito or finding all the ingredients for a Long Island iced tea. Barcelona City FM’s listeners asked Gavin what drink he makes that uses the most ingredients.

For him, it’s a Singapore Sling, with a minimum of ten ingredients to make it to its original recipe, including garnish. Whilst it might be hard to remember off the top of your head, when you work behind the bar it all becomes muscle memory.

The Singapore Sling is a tricky one for sure, but has anyone ever tried making a Commonwealth which contains 71 ingredients? You need a great memory for that one!

How do you make a peanut butter mai tai?

Gavin Wrigley Bartending Instructor

Peanut butter and jelly, peanut butter brownies, peanut butter… Mai Tai? Why not! Here’s one of our favourite homemade cocktails that you can make using the cheapest peanut butter you can find in the supermarkets!

To make this sweet treat, you need to make your own homemade peanut butter sugar syrup which sounds harder than it is, but don’t worry!

You can either buy the sugar syrup off the shelves and mix it with the peanut butter, or you can be inventive and make your own, all you need is sugar and water. This one will satisfy your sweet tooth and is perfect for when you can’t decide between a pudding and a cocktail!

Glass: Tiki mug/metal sailors cup

Method: Shake and strain

Ice: Crushed

Ingredients:

  • 2cl Kraken Rum
  • 4cl Appleton Estate Rum
  • Amer Picon 2cl
  • 3cl Lime Juice
  • Peanut Butter (one large bar spoon)
  • 2cl Sugar Syrup

What do you need to be a great bartender?

It’s not the best tools, or the best jiggers. It’s not even the perfect shake. In Gavin’s eyes, the perfect bartender needs to have empathy and they have to be able to listen to other people. They need to enjoy working with the public, and entertaining the people on the other side of the bar! A bartender is so much more than someone who takes care of the drinks for the night.

They often take care of your problems, give you advice, and are someone to talk to in confidence.

If you don’t like being in the public eye, this job isn’t for you! A top tip from Gavin for if you have an unreasonable customer in front of you? Kill them with kindness!

Before we go…

Remember, to be a kitchen mixologist, you don’t have to have all the fancy tools and strainers. It’s easy to make your own home cocktail bar. Substitution is essential. No jiggers? Try an egg cup! No fancy bar spoons? You have teaspoons or chopsticks for stirring. Be innovative and imaginative!