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Delaware Bartenders Share Tips for Mixing Cocktails at Home

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Need some help polishing your bartending skills? Belly up to your home bar and mix like a pro—with a little help from Delaware bartenders.


As the days and nights blend into each other this summer, why not spend some time polishing your bartending skills? Whether you invest in a fully stocked cart or a choose a couple of bottles for your liquor cabinet, these recipes and expert tips from Delaware bartenders will help you mix delicious cocktails.

REFRESHING PUNCH

The general manager at Wilmington’s Torbert Street Social is often seen behind the bar creating Instagram-worthy concoctions. But at home, Victoria Reed keeps it simple with a glass of wine—or a refreshing and easy “summertime sangria,” which she makes in a pitcher for easy transport to the patio table or poolside.

When mixing, forget the bottled juices. Reed recommends using fresh fruit, especially when the cocktail calls for citrus. “Juicing [fruit] yourself may take a bit more time, but it’s totally worth it,” she says, noting the difference in taste.

She says it’s also important to measure everything in your cocktail rather than eyeballing it. (A handy tip if you don’t have a cocktail jigger (shot measure) at home: 1 ounce is equal to about 2 tablespoons.)

Torbert Street Social, 305 Torbert St., Wilmington; 407-6627; torbertsocial.com

Summertime Sangria

  • 4 ounces pear vodka
  • 2 ounces St. Germain Elderflower Liqueur
  • ½ cup apple juice
  • 1 bottle of dry white wine (Reed suggests sauvignon blanc or a brut sparkling wine)
  • Sliced pears or green apples
  • Sliced cucumbers
  • Mint leaves

Combine all ingredients in a pitcher. Stir, add ice and serve.


TART & TANGY

To visit this spot above Catherine Rooney’s in Trolley Square, you’ll need a password, just like during the Prohibition era. Hummingbird to Mars, a speakeasy and restaurant, offers patrons crafted cocktails, wines, beers, seasonal menus and live entertainment that make it a must-stop.

The speakeasy may still be shuttered amid pandemic restrictions (it was at press time), but bar manager Joe Teoli leaked the “secret” recipe of one of their most-served summer cocktails. The tart and tangy Where There Is Smoke… was so popular that Teoli says they now offer it year-round.

Echoing Reed’s mixing philosophy, Teoli says he always uses fresh juices and a cocktail jigger to measure. “Proportions and balance are very important, especially when using fewer ingredients,” he says.

Should you shake or stir?

“Stir cocktails containing only spirits or ones that are ‘clear,’” he advises. Do this for 30 seconds or until you feel the glass getting cold from the ice. “You should shake cocktails that contain juices, milk, creams or eggs, for 15 to 20 seconds.”

As any mixologist will tell you, experimenting is half the fun. While it was once a bartending faux pas to mix two different base spirits, like vodka and rum, Teoli says pretty much everything’s on the table now as cocktail menus become more creative.

1616 Delaware Ave., Wilmington; 407-5971; catherinerooneys.com/hummingbird-to-mars/

Where There Is Smoke…

  • 1 ½ ounces jalapeño-infused mezcal
  • ½ ounce Ancho Reyes Chili Liqueur
  • ½ ounce agave nectar
  • ½ ounce fresh lime juice
  • ½ ounce fresh orange juice
  • 1 lime to garnish

Chill all ingredients by shaking with ice, then double-strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with lime.

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