Having only played around with cocktail making at home, I am by no means an expert so thought I should get behind the bar and learn how it should be done. What better place to learn from than with the cocktail making extraordinaires at The Plymouth Gin Refectory Bar?

I arrived at the bar armed with my white t-shirt so I’d fit in with the team behind the bar. In no time at all, I had an ice scoop in my hand and was making my first cocktail. We started with a Classic Martini. Here they opt for stirring too; maybe James Bond had it all wrong.

Next we moved on to the ever popular Espresso Martini. Here I learnt a valuable lesson – when the recipe says shake, you must really shake. Not enough shake = not enough froth in this case. Second time round we had a beautiful frothy Espresso Martini with the darkness of the Espresso against the lightness of the froth. It is clear to see why this is one of the top vodka cocktails – it looks stunning, tastes incredible and has a real kick. Not as difficult to make as I had thought either.

The cocktail making continued. I learnt to pour the required measures a lot quicker, scoop the ice and get most of it in the glass, shake, stir, muddle, spritz, twirl. We made a Bloody Mary, Raspberry Bellini, Black Russian, Tom Collins and many more. Creating beautiful, delicious drinks is a lot of fun. The best bit, after admiring the finished cocktail, is watching the customer drink it and enjoy it. In my case this was our photographer Emma. She was in charge of tasting as well as taking the photos. She went home with a very big smile on her face and rosy cheeks.

What fascinated me most was all the preparation that goes into making a great cocktail. There’s a fridge full of a wide selection of garnishes from samphire to raspberries and so many bottles of freshly squeezed juices and sugar syrups. These fresh juices and syrups are what make the cocktails taste so incredible. Having a chilled glass is a must too with many cocktails and I was delighted to see they had a glass chilling draw.

Thanks to Craig, I now have the basics of cocktail making mastered and have the perfect serves for Cove Vodka for our tasting events.  You can view all of the cocktail recipes on our How to Enjoy page. For details of tasting events visit our stockists page.

Here are my cocktail making ‘top tips’
  • Preparation is key to quick and fun cocktail making. Prepare the freshly squeezed juices that you’ll need and bottle them up in advance. You can also make your own sugar syrups and infuse them with fruit or herbs.
  • Get plenty of fresh complementary ingredients to garnish your cocktails – citrus fruits, raspberries, celery, tomatoes, samphire, olives, rose petals.
  • Chill glasses in advance if you have space in the fridge / freezer. If not, you can fill them with ice while you are creating the cocktail.
  • Make your cocktails quickly and always strain the cocktail from the shaker to leave the ice behind so that it doesn’t dilute the cocktail. If the cocktail is served with ice, add it just before you serve it.
  • Double strain cocktails that have any pieces of fruit etc. in them so you have a nice smooth cocktail.
  • When it says shake – give it a really good shake to fully blend the ingredients together.
  • Have fun and experiment – you can easily taste as you go to make sure you create something great.