The Must-Have Home Bar Tools of the Trade

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Essential Bar Tools

We like, no, we love, sharing information about all things cocktails – recipes, history, food pairings – and more. But we haven’t really talked about the essential home bar tools that enable you to be the best home mixologist you can be. Whether it’s just you and your homies hangin’ on a Sunday afternoon or serving a signature cocktail to a dinner party for 20, being confident behind the bar elevates your guests’ experiences. Having a well-stocked bar not only makes you a rock-star bartender, it saves time and money. With this list of the 7 Essential Tools for Your Home Bar, you’ll be more than ready to mix up your favorite drinks any time!

Glass on Tin Bar Shaker from Amazon.com

Pic credit: Amazon.com

1. Shaker: The Foundation Home Bar Tool

We asked our experts and they agree, a bar shaker is the foundation tool for any home bar. It doesn’t matter if it’s tin on tin or glass on tin shaker sets, find your preference and get to shaking. The shaker you choose doesn’t have to cost $1,200.00 like the one we linked to (made you look!). It just needs to fit your budget and style. The shaker is fundamental because the shaking blends the flavors of your cocktail ingredients. The shimmy and shake also give your drink an airiness to lighten and brighten the flavors. During shaking (add some hip to that shake), the ice cools the liquids to create a consistently cold cocktail to serve sans ice.

2. Hawthorne Strainer: Don’t Strain Yourself

To get that cold cocktail into a glass without ice or other solid form ingredients like citrus, you should (must) have a Hawthorne Bar Strainer and a Julep Strainer. Both strain liquid from the ice or muddled fruits, herbs, or other non-liquid ingredients into your glass. But bartenders use them in different instances. The Hawthorne Strainer has a flat disc with tabs that keep it in place when pouring out the drink. The coil that sits on the inside of the disc holds back anything non-liquid as you transfer from the shaker. (We’re not quite ready to delve into the Julep Strainer, but we will soon. Patience, please.)

The Mixing Glass from Sur La Table.

Pic credit: Sur La Table

3. Mixing Glass: Stirred, Not Shaken

Not every drink should be shaken. Sorry James Bond, but some drinks are meant to be stirred. We won’t judge you if you stir a drink that’s typically shaken or shake a drink that’s typically stirred – as long as you use the proper bar tool. For the stirred variety of cocktails, the home bar tool we recommend is a high-ish quality mixing glass. The mixing glass is typically a heavy-duty glass with a one to two drink capacity. We literally can’t with all the bar tool options that are available on sites like Amazon.com. We suggest picking one that fits your personal style. If it says “YOU” you’ll probably leave it on display and therefore, will be more likely to use it.

Beautiful Bar Spoons from Sur La Table.

Pic credit: Sur La Table

4. Bar Spoon: Just a Spoonful of Sugar

You’ve got the glass. Now you need the spoon. (You really need this spoon. In copper. Send us one too, please!) Once again, the options are endless, but a good bar spoon should have a long enough handle to reach the very bottom of the mixing glass. Most of the bar spoons we favor have swizzle stick like stems, are very light and easy to grip. The best mixologists make stirring an art and with the right spoon (and school and experience), you can mimic the masters.

5. and 6. Muddler and Jigger: Time to Muddle and Jig

Muddled fruits and herbs are a dynamic way to layer flavors in your cocktail. But how do you muddle? You start with the right muddler, of course. There’s nothing more badass than a muddler. See for yourself. You have the muddler and the mixing glass. Your ingredients are ready. Time to get your muddle on. After your muddle is muddled, it’s time to add your spirits with a jigger.

A bar jigger is the most necessary of the home bar tools we suggest. It’s a fancy measuring tool that has one side with a one-ounce pour and the other with a half-ounce pour. A jigger is the preferred way to measure (over the classic “counting pour”) because it gives you the exact measurement of spirit to add. Much like baking, mixology needs accuracy in measurements to ensure the balance of ingredients is right.

The Julep Strainer

Pic credit: Sur La Table

7. Julep Strainer: Time to Talk About the “Other” Strainer

We bet you were anxious to find out where the Julep Strainer fits in. Your patience is finally rewarded. This particular home bar tool looks like a giant spoon made out of a spaghetti strainer. Its name comes from the Mint Julep, a drink with layers of muddled mint. We love the muddling in the Silk Road. It fits into the mixing glass and holds back the muddled ingredients, straining liquids in the drinking glass. It’s a timeless home bar tool essential for a home mixologist’s toolbox.

Your Tool Box is Full

You have your home bar tools: the shaker, the Hawthorne Strainer, the mixing glass, the bar spoon, the muddler, the jigger, and, last but not least, the julep strainer. You no longer have excuses about why you aren’t whipping up amazing cocktails on the reg. Keep up to date on the tools of the trade and learn about “THE” cocktail you should be shaking (or stirring). Follow us on your favorite social media – Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. For the best results, “like us” on all three.

Do you have any tips to share, when it comes to essential home bar tools? Please let us know in the comments below.

What is “authentic” Mexican cuisine, really?

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Al Pastor Taco by LatinoFoodie.com

Just like authentic Mexican tequila, authentic Mexican cuisine begs the question – what is it and what makes it “authentic”. While we know what makes authentic Mexican tequila, we decided to ask our friends at LatinoFoodie to help us determine what is authentic Mexican cuisine. LatinoFoodie is a great resource for authentic Mexican cuisine. Not only do they keep us on top of LA-area food and drink events, they create delicious recipes that are a genius mix of traditional and modern Mexican influence. We were lucky to have found each other during our Cinco de Mayo recipe contest. Their recipe for Mole Poblano walked away with top honors. One peek, and you can see why. Muy delicioso! Pair it with a Tamarindo Margarita for perfect mix of modern and authentic Mexican cuisine.

LatinoFoodie has helped us celebrate all of our favorite holidays from Thanksgiving straight through to New Year’s Eve by developing authentic Mexican tequila cocktail recipes and pairing them with great food. Recently, we celebrated our one year anniversary (aw!) as friends and partners. It’s obvious why LatinoFoodie is our go-to resource for all things “authentic”.

Now you know a little more about Latino Foodie. Read on to learn more about traditional Mexican food!


 

Understanding cultural influences on Mexican cuisine is important, especially as we celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month. Hispanic Heritage Month, September 15 to October 15, reminds us of all the contributions Latinos have made in this country. One of the many valuable gifts has been the rich cuisine from Mexico.

What is Authentic Mexican Cuisine?

Just what makes an ethnic dish authentic? From Indian to Italian to Mexican cuisine, it’s hard to find what is truly “authentic” vs. fusion food.

It’s an ongoing debate among many foodies and self-proclaimed “authentic” food police in the United States. Every time I see or hear the word authentic thrown around to describe a cuisine, especially Mexican, I have to roll my eyes just a little. The evolution of many of our most popular and beloved dishes had major influence from other countries.

For me, culinary “authenticity” is deeply personal. Food brings memories of family, grandmothers, and identity.

If you want true national food, we wouldn’t be eating carnitas, enchiladas, or tacos for that matter.

Meal of Carnitas - LatinoFoodie.com

Regional Mexican Cuisine is Real

Interestingly, much like the people of Mexico and her descendants, Mexican cuisine represents a myriad of cultural influences that have occurred over history.

With European colonization and massive migrations in the 19th and 20th centuries, isn’t Mexican cuisine technically “fusion?” For that matter, how can any country with foreign invasion and settlers consider its cuisine authentic?

Regional Mexican cuisine includes ingredients that are indigenous to that particular region as well as those brought by the Spaniards, including ingredients from Europe and Asia. Mexican food did not consist of lard or pork. Spaniards brought the pig. Tortas, the thick bread stuffed with refried beans and carne asada came after the French invaded Mexico and with them came the idea and technique of baking French bread.

el-trompo

Middle Eastern Flavors in Mexico

When you think of famous Mexicans like Selma Hayek and Astrid Hadad, you’ll see they are of Lebanese descent. The Lebanese have immigrated to Mexico since the 1880s to areas such as the Yucatan peninsula.

By the middle of the 20th century, Middle Eastern flavors were already manifesting in Mexican cuisine. One of the most notable of these influences, which continues to be a hallmark of hole-in-the-wall Mexican restaurants, is the rotating meat on a spit – “el trompo.” Pork eventually replaced lamb, and the shawarma we associate with Middle Eastern eateries became “al pastor.”

In Puebla, the Lebanese influence is most obvious in creations such as tacos árabes, which uses the marinated pork prepared on a spit, again a technique brought over from the Middle East, and sliced into a pan árabe (pita bread) or a thick flour tortilla and topped off with slices of onion, and a red sauce.

Truly Global Cuisine

Also in Mexico, one of the more popular desserts is called Crepas con Cajeta. In the 1860s French forces invaded Mexico, until we kicked them out starting with the Battle of Puebla. This is what we now celebrate here in the U.S. – Cinco de Mayo. It took another five years after that battle for the French to leave Mexico for good. Chefs liken savory crepes to enchiladas.

Less well-known is the culinary imprint left by large waves of Africans brought to Mexico as slaves during the Spanish colonial era; by Japanese, Filipino and Chinese immigrants (the latter of whom created a Chinese-Mexican fusion food just south of the U.S. border).

What matters is showing respect for the ingredients and appreciating how the dishes came to be. Once you know the history of a dish, it is easier to appreciate the idea of fusion cuisine and not get so hung up on the word “authentic.”

Bottom line – People who say they want “authentic” Mexican food or call out a dish as non-authentic are showing their unfamiliarity with history. Most global cuisine has various cultural influences brought by foreign invasion, slavery, and migration from people of other lands. Mexican cuisine is a prime example of this “fusion” food. Maybe one of the few honestly authentic products coming from Mexico is…. You guessed it – TEQUILA!

Thank you to our friends at LatinoFoodie for this tasty post. For more from our guest contributors, please visit their website.

Tasty Ways to Add Ginger to Cocktails

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Prince Harry - How to Add Ginger to Cocktails
Ginger: It’s All the Rage

Just ask Eddie Redmayne, Emma Stone, Benedict Cumberbatch, or Prince Harry. The strawberry locks. The alabaster skin. The freckles. Now that’s good looking. Oh wait? That’s right. We’re writing a blog about spicing up drinks with fresh ginger, not super spicy redhead celebrities.

That’s a fun topic, too, but we strongly believe it is best left to the experts at Buzzfeed. Now that we reminded ourselves what we actually do around here, we can get back on topic. Ginger. There’s a reason we are crazy about ginger (and it doesn’t have to do with any of the previously mentioned people). It’s because ginger makes common cocktails extraordinary!

Add Ginger to Cocktails - Sushi Tray

Get to the (Ginger) Root of It

Maybe you thought ginger was just something to munch on while you were waiting for your rainbow roll. Even though ginger can aid in digestion and has purported healing properties, it’s actually more than just functional. It’s really tasty as a mix-in to your favorite spirits.

Tasty…and a little bit of work, or rather prepping it for your cocktails can take some time. The ginger root is very dense, and in order to get a sizable amount of juice, you have to do some manual labor. Thankfully, the flavor is just as dense as the root itself. Only a little is needed to enhance your favorite cocktail.

To get to the juice, you have to get to the inside. And to do that, you have to peel the gnarly root. #ProTip: Rub the root with the edge of a metal spoon for the most efficient way to peel. This method also produces the least amount of waste and preserves the most amount of usable ginger. Win/win.

Take the naked root and juice it. Even if you don’t have a fancy juicer on hand, this step is pretty easy. Rough chop the ginger and place it in a garlic press. Squeeze the press over a bowl covered with cheesecloth and watch the juicy goodness, albeit slowly, fill the bowl. Because of the effort involved in ginger juice extraction, we recommend going big and prepping a bunch of juice at one time. It’s only advisable to keep ginger juice frozen if you’re planning on keeping it longer than a day. Ginger juice ice cubes, anyone?

How to add ginger to cocktails

The Many Shades of Ginger

It’s possible we lost you with all the work you have to do juice ginger. Keep in mind, using ginger to spice up your cocktails can be easy, as the root is really versatile. Much like Prince Harry, the ginger root is up for just about anything. It plays well with almost every spirit, making it a mixologist’s dream.

It has a rich earthy heat that can be sweetened with honey, agave nectar, or sugar and made into syrup for a different kind of cocktail. Use the thin slices of the root that you didn’t squeeze to garnish your drink. Wet the inside of the glass with ginger root oil (Amazon Prime will have it to you in 2 business days or less.) We’ve even been so bold as to rim the glass with ginger juice and then dust with a sprinkle of raw sugar.

Adding ginger to cocktails is a surefire way to kick up your mixology game. We think if Bobby Flay were a mixologist instead of a redheaded celebrity chef, he’d throw down a perfect ginger cocktail for his signature dish. If you ever find yourself in a situation where you have to “Beat Bobby Flay”, you could use our Penicillin #2 tequila cocktail recipe to move on to the next round.

Penicillin Cocktail How to Add Ginger to Cocktails

Still Prefer Blondes?

We’re not naming names, but we know a few people that no matter the coaxing, pleading, and plotting we do, just can’t wrap their arms around the bite that ginger (even sugared) gives. To those people, we offer you a wide array of tequila cocktail recipes for your arsenal. You know, just in case you run into our favorite ginger chef in a dark alley or on a television set someday.

 

DIY Bar Tip – Balance is Key

By | Blog

Azunia Tequila Cocktail Recipes

Our Friday night favorite: home-based happy hour. What’s better than the comforts of your flip-flops, your own couch, and your own Friday night vibes playlist? Whether it’s hosting an adult sleep-over with your closest girlfriends, entertaining a few lucky neighbors, or mixing a custom cocktail for yourself before Uber’ing to dinner, planning the perfect party takes work.

It can be intimidating to be in charge of everything – from bartending, to cheffing, to DJ’ing – there’s a lot to figure out. And let’s get real, besides good music, a well-balanced cocktail is one of the most important elements for a perfect night. We’ve all had to sip through a saccharine sweet margarita or an Schwarzenegger-strong gin and tonic that ruined our palate for the amazing charcuterie platter the host prepared. No one wants to be the “hostess with the leastest” serving up undrinkable drinks with the brie and baguettes. Mixing a well-balanced drink that enhances the flavor of the feast (even delivery pizza) is essential to a great happy hour.  

If you’re the official home bartender this Friday night, remember these easy ideas to launch you to expert mixologist level.

Home Bartending is a Balancing Act

Just remember 2:1:1. It’s that simple. Two ounces of your base liquor to one ounce of the sweet ingredient to one ounce of the sour ingredient. Your base spirit will be the flavor that finishes the drink, as it’s the dominant ingredient. The sweet can be any component you choose that complements your base. Think soda or juice or even a simple liqueur like chocolate or berry. The sour could be a fresh squeeze of a tart citrus, a drop of pickle juice, or a pre-made sour mix. Remember quality counts when selecting a pre-made sour. Better yet, make your own by adding simple syrup to a mixture of lemon and lime juices.  

The only limit to a harmonious home-crafted drink is your imagination.

Dig down deep to find your inner Bill Nye, the Science Guy. Treat your DIY bar like a lab and experiment with your favorite flavors. Or try some flavors that normally you don’t like.  Sometimes the best concoctions seem the silliest at the time.  Bloody Mary, anyone?

Azunia Tequila Cocktails get MuddledNow Master Making Cocktails at Home

Once you master the basics, you’ll have the confidence to take a few steps outside of your comfort zone. Then you can really wow your guests (and yourself) at your next margarita party.  Add in a dash of surprise and an element of complexity with aromatics. These subtle ingredients add specific scents that play to multiple senses as you sip.

In this new era of craft cocktails, bitters are making a big comeback. They are an easy aromatic add in and come in many essences to enhance a flavor with only adding a few drops. Bitters pack a punch in small doses so use them sparingly.

Another way to add aromatics to your drink is by either coating the inside of your most fancy glassware (or red solo cup) or on top of your finished cocktail with an essential oil, like Rose Water or Orange Flower Water, or strong liqueur, like Absinthe. Essential oils are a great way to introduce herbs and fruit flavors while using very little actual substance.

Adding just a hint of aroma keeps your “2 to 1 to 1” ratio in check and makes the most spectacular custom cocktails. Not to mention, your mixology experiments just might earn you the moniker of “hostess with the mostest”.

It All Adds Up

You’ve set the table. Planned the menu. And now you even have the formula for the best mixed drinks. So, put on that playlist and get busy making cocktails.

Your guests are on their way.

Think you have created the perfect balance in a glass?  Share your ideas for your bright and bold balanced beverage in the comments below.

 

Happy Father’s Day From Azuñia’s Founder

By | Blog

Dear Friends,

As I approach Father’s Day every year, I reflect on my life and its many accomplishments. Leader of a growing tequila company, friend to the people I’ve met along the way, and father to two young spunky girls are the three endeavors I am most proud of.

Being the Founder and CEO of Azuñia, I am responsible to not only my employees and partners, but their families as well. In my 9 years with Azuñia, I have come to know each employee, and I’ve learned that the choices I make for the company have a direct impact on their lives.

When I first started traveling to Mexico in the mid-eighties, I fell in love with the people and the land. My visits over the past 30 years have influenced the way I live my life and run my business. During these trips, I learned from the Miravalle family that we are just that, family. I appreciate how they invited me into their home and shared meals with me – not just as a business partner, but also as a friend. As we shared food and sipped tequila, we made decisions for our future together as Azuñia. This practice of sharing a dinner table with business partners is not often practiced in the States. My trips to Mexico and to the Miravalle Ranch taught me to think outside of the box when cultivating relationships.

On one memorable trip to Mexico, I met a young 9-year-old girl, Nicole. We immediately bonded, and even though we spoke different languages were able to make a very special deal. We agreed that if she learned to speak English before her 15th birthday, I would buy her the most beautiful dress in all of Mexico for her quinceañera.

She began English school later that year, and as we talked throughout the years – her in English and me in Spanish – her language skills improved. In the agreed upon time, she learned enough English to earn that dress. I was honored to attend her quinceañera celebration. It was an honor to have a dance with her at the reception, and I’m happy that we are still close friends.

While being a business owner and friend to the families of Azuñia is important to me, nothing fulfills me as much as being a dad to my beautiful daughters, Reagan and Deary. My two little girls have taught me the importance of many values – patience, kindness, perseverance, humility, and grace – that I use every day running the business. Because of them I am future-focused. I want to succeed for them. I look forward to each day with robust energy, as I want to make them, my Azuñia team, and my Miravalle family proud for years to come.

On Father’s Day, let’s toast all of the fathers, fathers-to-be, and stand-in fathers that work so hard every day to make the future brighter and happier for all of us. And let’s honor the dads we’ve lost by sharing those memories with our loved ones.

Celebrate well.

– Jim

How to Make The Best Tequila Simple Syrup

By | Blog

Simple Syrup

How to Make 1:1 Tequila Simple Syrup

  1. Boil water first. Doing so will prevent the sugar from burning.
  2. Take water off heat.
  3. Add equal parts white sugar.
  4. Stir until dissolved.

Pro Tip: Use 2 parts Demerara, brown or Turbinado sugar with 1 part water instead of 1:1 white sugar and water.

How to Make Simple Syrup recipe

Some of Our Favorite Tequila Simple Syrup Variations

  •  Herbs/Spices
    • An herbaceous flavor adds a level of taste to cocktails that you just can’t beat. It’s sophisticated, earthy, and memorable.
    • Add herbs or spices (vanilla bean, rosemary, clove) in the initial water boil explained above and allow herbs to steep for 10 minutes.
    • A few exceptions to the rules:
      • Cilantro and basil become bitter over high heat.
      • To make ginger syrup, you’ll need a juice extractor. Then add equal parts sugar (no heat).
  • Fruits or veggies
    • Imagine a cocktail made with the essence of blueberries or the fresh tartness of raspberries or savory celery, adding a whole other level of flavor, fruits and veggies are endless in their abundance of new taste characteristics.
    • Fruit syrups are not heated. Just juice your fruit or vegetable, such as strawberry, pineapple or celery, and add equal parts sugar.
  •  Tea
    • Your morning cup can add so much depth to your cocktail!
    • We love green tea, but just about any tea works. Teas add an earthy, even herbaceous, flavor not to be missed. Just add tea to equal parts sugar and water, over low heat.
    • Chamomile tea, as used in the Chamomila Cocktail above, makes a fantastic cocktail.

 

Looking for more recipes to use your tequila simple syrup? Consider these fun recipes.

Strawberry Fields Forever

Strawberry Fields Cocktail

Fernet Me Not

The Secret Garden

Cucumber Cooler

Beauregard’s Cocktail

Beauregards Berry Tequila Cocktail

https://www.azuniatequila.com/blog-sangria-tequila-cocktails/https://www.azuniatequila.com/blog-sangria-tequila-cocktails/SaveSave

Come see us at the San Antonio Cocktail Conference!

By | Blog

Come taste our organic Azuñia Blanco tomorrow (January 16, 12 pm – 4 pm) at the Hotel Valencia / San Antonio Cocktail Conference!

Kailee will be whipping up one of our great Azuñia coctails with Blanco, Dolin Blanc vermouth, cucumber, jalapeño, agave nectar and fresh lemon juice. 

Azuñia at the San Antonio Cocktall Conference

Azuñia at the San Antonio Cocktall Conference

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