Ali Feinberg smacks down another $20 bill onto the sticky wet bar in New York City and awaits her overpriced drink. The 21-year-old New Jersey native orders her second vodka soda from her favorite New York bar, Pheobe’s, and is already $35 deep.
The cost of craft cocktails at bars have increased and Feinberg is not the only one feeling the pain of getting back six crumpled dollars from a skimpy bartender after putting down a $20.
The Consumer Price Index for alcoholic beverages increased 30 percent from January 2003 to October 2015. More so, the price of beverages consumed out of the home have increased 46 percent compared to the 20 percent increased for alcohol consumed in the home, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.
Without a doubt, a night out on the town means a few consecutive nights of Lean Cuisine frozen dinners after. But what if you could recreate your favorite bar drinks without the steep prices and sweaty bodies pushing against you? To prevent spending nearly double your money on alcohol you can make the perfect craft cocktails for you and your friends right from home with these four tips.
What’s in your bar?
You should always have a variety of spirits on hand, although nowadays vodka seems to be the staple. However, some very popular drinks, such as a long island ice tea, call for more than one type of booze.
Tony Fewlass, who has bartended at Widow Newton’s Tavern at Navy Pier in Chicago as well as Sheraton O’Hare and Ramada O’Hare Quest Lounge, just to name a few, has seen and made it all. But he believes one spirit rises higher than the rest.
“In the past it was gin for martinis but over time vodka took the top spot in the martini department.” Fewlass said. “Vodka is very versatile, straight, on ice, juice and carbonated mix’s go well and specialty drinks with vodka are endless.”
But don’t just take it from Fewlass, Madison Burton, a bartender at Kilroys on Kirkwood and Kilroys Sports in the festive college town of Bloomington, Indiana, said vodka is always ordered because it is the most versatile. Regardless of what you are making, you should always have vodka stocked in your bar.
Quality over Quantity
Quality absolutely affects the taste of the alcohol, according to Fewlass; go for the middle shelf spirits like Absolut or Skyy Vodka when constructing drinks that call for vodka. There is no need to buy Belvedere, but also no reason to slump. Your head and stomach the next morning will thank you.
Although many claim to not know the difference between the quality of alcohol, your stomach can argue that the next morning.
Elizabeth Wylly, a Cincinnati native, frequents Tin Roof, located in the heart of the city. She can’t tell the difference between vodka because she is not asking for specifics.
“When I’m at the bar I always drink wells and hope for the best the next morning.” Wylly said. “When I make cocktails at home I tend to splurge because the shelf life is longer, I don’t see myself throwing my money away.” Her drink of choice: vodka cranberry.
So here’s hoping or just sucking it up and buying something of a slightly better quality.
A little Something-Something
Most craft cocktails call for something other than straight alcohol. If they don’t, that’s called a shot. A seltzer, a variety of juices and soda are all common mixers in a simple cocktail.
Try to keep it simple with mixers, a variety of juices like orange, cranberry and pineapple. As well as, dark sodas to mix with rum and seltzer water for vodka. Unless there is a theme to the party it might be best to construct simple cocktails.
Most bars offer maraschino cherries, lemon, limes and sometimes oranges. Burton said her go-to is always lime because it adds a fresh component but oranges and lemons are as well.
Glass Half Full
Although the glass may not matter, it’s always nice to drink a beer in a frosted glass and a martini out of its intended glass. Try to keep it classy and drink out of an actual glass as if you were at an actual bar.
Although the glass may add some class to your girls’ night-in, Fewlass believes the glass is just that, a classy element.
“In my opinion no, but don’t tell that to the hipster brew masters these days, beer in a snifter? Really sure it’s fun, but costly.” Says Fewlass. “I do think the glass sets a mood and is appropriate for the celebration on hand. Margarita glass for a Margarita, sure, or a chilled beer mug for beer, yes.”
So you can set the mood based on glasses. It definitely would feel more like a cocktail served in a glass.
Be Social With Craft Cocktails At Home
There will always be something immensely glamorous about going out to the bar with the girls but the realization that your wallet is empty the next morning is anything but. Next time, make it a ladies night in and make your favorite cocktails for half the price.