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Mixology doesn't require fancy equipment or endless variations of drinking glasses. Stock these essential items and you'll be ready to mix even the most elaborate cocktails.
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The equipment needed to mix a cocktail is simple to master, and you don't need a lot of it.
To get the coldest shaken cocktails, you need cracked ice (the little pieces have an increased surface area). Simply put cubes in the sack and whack with a club.
Contrary to what James Bond says, your martinis (and Manhattans) are better stirred; they're colder and silkier.
Often, the best way to get fresh fruit into a drink is to cut it into pieces and crush it in the mixing glass.
Ice Cube Trays
For stirred drinks with ice: Big, dense cubes will stay cold without getting watery.
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Always use a jigger to measure your liquor. Sometimes the difference between a quarter-ounce and a half-ounce is the difference between nirvana and NyQuil.
Professionals prefer the two-piece Boston shaker to the three-piece kind with the spout in the top. Drinks strain fast, making for less dilution and better sipping.
To get the drinks out of your Boston shaker, you'll need a good strainer.
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The Short Glass
For everyday use in your home bar, you only need six or eight of each of these three basic types: a short glass, a tall glass, and a stem.
If you plan to serve wine at your parties, invest in eight to 12 basic stemmed wineglasses, either a single shape that is appropriate for both red and white or separate sets of glasses for each.
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The Tall Glass
For liquor that's served neat or on the rocks.
A heavy-bottomed glass is best, so you can muddle in it (think old-fashioneds and caipirinhas). Six to eight ounces is the ideal size -- not so big that a slug of Scotch gets lost in it, but not too small to fit some big ice cubes. (You can serve wine in this, too.)
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For drinks that have bubbles or a lot of juice in them.
You'll need a 10- to 12-ounce glass, one that's narrow enough to preserve the carbonation in a mojito or a highball, but wide enough for a stack of ice cubes.
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White Wine Glass
For cocktails and other cold drinks served without ice (the stem keeps your warm hand away from the cold drink).
A standard martini glass is good, but a rounded five- to six-ounce Champagne coupe is better -- it spills less, it suits other mixed drinks, and it has a nice, retro style to it.
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Red Wine Glass
A tulip-shaped stemmed glass is the classic vessel for white wine. If we had to pick just one as our favorite all-purpose glass, this would be it. The best versions feel steady in the hand when they're full of liquid and also when they're empty.
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This glass tends to have a more swelling profile, with a little extra room in the bowl for vapors and aromas to collect. (Supersize wineglasses, however, are overkill.)
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A stemless wine goblet performs virtually the same as a stemmed glass, but the wine may warm up as the heat from your hand transfers to the glass.
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Because dessert wines and fortified wines, such as sherry, port, and Madeira, tend to be richer and more alcoholic, they are best sipped from a slightly smaller glass, proportioned to a smaller pour. The inward taper focuses the intense aromas.
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A tall flute is the most festive way to serve sparkling wines. The surface encourages the formation of bubbles, while the shape accentuates their ascent. With bubbly, there is no shortage of vapor being released, so an inward-tapering lip isn't necessary.