Master cocktails at home with tips from award-winning bartenders from London and the UK’s top cocktail bars. Add shrubs to boost complexity in cocktails, make a DIY chilli-infused tequila for sprucing up margaritas and shake up a batch of negroni ahead of guests' arrivals.


Elevate your home cocktail kit with the best cocktail accessories, from shakers and strainers to ice buckets and blenders, then explore our guides to the best cocktail glasses, whisky glasses, best reusable ice cubes and cocktail ice cubes. After, listen to our podcast on the 10 things you need to know about cocktails at home with drinks journalist and author Alice Lascelles.

For more cocktail recipes, take a browse through our easy cocktails, vodka cocktails, gin cocktails and tequila cocktails.

1. Invest in a blender for cocktails en masse

"A blender is the perfect solution for ‘shaking’ cocktails en masse," says Sweeties head bartender, Jack Sotti. "Add four ice cubes per cocktail in the batch and blend until all the ice has melted. Perfect for frothy sours with egg whites for a silky smooth texture. Just pop your glasses into the freezer beforehand and serve."

Jack Sotti has worked across the drinks industry, from head of advocacy at Diageo to co-founding drinks consultancy agency Supernacular. He joined Sweeties as head bartender early this year.

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For more cocktails for a crowd, take a look at our best jug cocktails. Check out the best blenders to buy here, from our sister brand BBC Good Food.

A cream and glass blender

2. Pre-batch and freeze your martinis

“When entertaining I like to pre-batch and freeze a few martinis. Any combination of gin or vodka, various styles of vermouths and sherries, savoury brines or even fruit liqueurs. Bottle in attractive decanters and present the frosty bottles with elegant glassware. Prepare an array of garnishes – lemon twists, cornichons, cocktail onions and olives – so guests can personalise their drinks.”

Shannon Tebay is former head bartender at The Savoy’s American Bar and Death & Co in Manhattan.

3. Make a vortex for thirsty guests

"All you need to keep lots of guests happy at the same time is a vortex!" says Mayahuel bartender Elena Foschi. "Choose your favourite dry gin or vodka as a base (these are the easiest spirits to match flavour-wise), add lemon, sugar and a pinch of salt – a great trick to enhance flavours – then customise the drink with raspberries, strawberries or apples. Blitz in a blender, add water if needed and chill, ready to pour. For a fizzy drink, top up with soda or prosecco."

Elena has worked across buzzy Marylebone restaurant Cavita and Mayahuel as a bartender since the restaurant opened in May 2022. She has developed a love for mezcal and pairing drinks with Mexican flavours.

Take a browse through our best vodka cocktails.

4. Make a batch of negroni ahead of hosting

"My tip for easy hosting is to make the drink ahead," says owner of Tayēr + Elementary, Monica Berg. "I normally batch the cocktail before the guests arrive and keep it in the fridge or freezer so that, when it’s time to serve, all you need do is pour. Take a negroni: use equal parts of gin, Campari, sweet vermouth and filtered water (to make up for not stirring it on ice), blend the ingredients together in a bottle and chill. To serve, fill a rocks glass with ice and a slice of orange, and pour the drink."

Tayēr + Elementary, opened by Monica and her partner, Alex Kratena, has raked in plaudits, most recently reaching No 2 in The World’s 50 Best Bars 2022. It’s two bars in one: Elementary, airy and industrial, is a casual, all-day space with cocktails on tap, while a partition leads to the intimate, boundary-pushing Tayēr. They also sell bottled cocktails online – from jasmine mai tais to a cedarwood old fashioned.

Discover our recipe for a classic negroni.

Negroni drink recipe

5. Shake up a DIY spicy tommy’s margarita

"Making a decent cocktail at home needn’t be complicated. One crowd-pleaser is a spicy tommy’s margarita – and to get that heat in your drink is seriously easy," says Kricket's head of beverage, Will Rogers. "Just grab a bottle of your favourite tequila, or mezcal, take one fresh chilli, split it down the middle and drop it into the bottle and leave overnight. This will infuse the tequila and give it the added kick that will elevate your cocktail to something special. Shake 50ml of the chilli-infused tequila, 25ml of lime juice and 15ml of agave syrup, and pour over ice. Simple and spicy."

Soma, a sleek subterranean bar on Soho’s Denman Street, lies underneath sister restaurant Kricket. Inside, expect pared-back, polished cocktails created by the restaurant’s head of beverage, Will Rogers, served in slinky minimalist surrounds with stainless steel bar, indigo walls and walnut furnishings.

Take your pick from our best tequila cocktails.

Spicy margarita in glass with lime wedges in bowl

6. Make-ahead oleo saccharum

"One of my go-tos for serving cocktails to a crowd is to make an oleo saccharum the day before – peel citrus fruit and add the peels to a jar with sugar," says co-owner of bars Hide, The Arbitrager and Demon, and Wise & Partners, Paul Mathew. "Shake and leave overnight for the oils to be drawn out of the skin – the sugar will look damp. The following day, juice the citrus into the sugar and shake to dissolve. Strain out the peel, and use as a base for punches. You can add what you like to this but I’d suggest cold black tea (earl grey works a treat), grated nutmeg, star anise and vanilla. If you want to get more creative, rustle up a gin alternative by gently crushing some juniper berries, citrus peel, rosemary and a little thyme or fennel. Leave to soak in water, then strain and drink with tonic."

Conservation biologist and bartender Paul Mathew has spent the past 25 years working in the drinks industry. Co-owner of bars Hide, The Arbitrager and Demon, and Wise & Partners in London, he launched Everleaf in 2019, a non-alcoholic aperitif that uses sustainably sourced botanicals.

Find our best gin cocktails here.

7. Surprise guests by swapping gin with mezcal

"When I’m hosting a get-together, if guests are in the mood for a cocktail, I like surprising them with a twist on the classic negroni where you replace the gin with mezcal," says Lucia Massey, bartender at Doña. "I also like serving a short, neat mezcal with cool slices of orange sprinkled with tajin (a Mexican spice blend of salt, chilli and citrus), which really brings out the flavour."

There’s something soothingly seductive about Stoke Newington’s Doña, with its basement setting and lavishly trimmed décor of wall-to-wall rich reds and pinks scattered with cacti, velvet seating and a pink-fringed bar. It functions as mezcal bar and community arts platform – with performances most nights. While Doña is a treasure trove of rare and small-batch mezcals, if you’re new to the spirit then we recommend starting with the cocktail list, which explores the versatility of this smoky agave

Check out our more mezcal cocktails.

Pink cocktail in a nick and nora glass

8. Add drinking vinegar to your cocktails

"Shrubs or drinking vinegars – syrups of fruit and vinegar – offer an amazing range of flavours," says Chris Tanner, owner of Silverleaf. "Make your usual recipe for a collins or highball but add a teaspoon of drinking vinegar for complexity and depth of flavour. This also works for liquid yuzu ‘seasoning’ (£3/100ml, Often these tiny bottles include salts and acids as well as yuzu. If you make a punch or highball, add some to increase the range of flavour."

Chris worked as director of bars at London whisky specialist Milroy’s of Soho before launching Silverleaf, a standalone bar at the Pan Pacific hotel in Bishopsgate, east London. We mean ‘standalone’ literally – the bar is hidden away in the adjacent Devonshire House, with luxe, dimly lit Tom Dixon interiors featuring metallics, mid-century furniture and plush banquettes.


Find out how to make homemade shrubs here.

Three homemade shrubs in tumbler glasses on a white marble table

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