The Unexpected Home Fix For Better Cocktails

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There's no question that homemade cocktails have seen a spike in recent years (via Forbes). While we admittedly love a glass of fine wine with dinner after a long day, we are also big fans of elevating meals with a well-mixed cocktail. Why not take out the blender to whip up some frozen margaritas or stir up a classic Negroni at home? But even with the highest-rated bar tools and the perfect cocktail recipes you may still sip your homemade creations and be disappointed.

One thing that margaritas, Negronis, and even the occasional whiskey neats have in common? Water, in all its glorious forms: from big beautiful ice cubes and blended ice to splashes of water or mixers. And just like coffee, bagel, and pizza connoisseurs will tell you, it's all about the water, baby.

Hydration station

Kevin Liu, author of "Craft Cocktails at Home: Offbeat Techniques, Contemporary Crowd-Pleasers, and Classics Hacked with Science," touts water quality as the key to your cocktail being the star of the night; without great water, you may as well pour the rest of your hard work down the drain. So how can you ensure your water is up to par?

Start with testing your tap water. According to an article Liu wrote for Serious Eats, the best-tasting water has dissolved minerals (solids) in it, and a TDS (total dissolved solids) level of around 35 milligrams per liter. The ideal mix of minerals is a combination of sodium, potassium, calcium, and magnesium. While high-end TDS meters can run hundreds of dollars, the average at-home mixologist can purchase a handheld TDS water quality meter for as low as eight dollars from places like Amazon

Filtering your water could also be key to a better cocktail. There are various filtration methods, the simplest being activated charcoal (via Architectural Digest). Liu himself ended up going for a 5-stage ZeroWater system; he also points out that Smart Water is a bottled water brand that lands closest to the ideal water composite if that's more your speed. 

Whatever your method of perfecting your H2O for your next blended cocktail or batch of ice, you and your dinner guests will be asking for another pour once you try these tips. Cheers!