Our top 5 tips for making a great cocktail

Written 14th September 2019

This week, we’ve spoken to our barman, Samuele, about his top tips for making a cocktail at home.


What are your top tips for making the perfect cocktail at home?

My top tips for making the perfect at-home cocktail are:

  1. Make sure you use good quality products, even if that means spending a little more – it’s more than worth it in flavour, and you’ll really notice the difference. If possible, use seasonal produce such as apples, peaches and pears – these are ideal for this time of year.
  2. Try to get creative with your household items. For example, you can use a potato peeler to make some garnishes, or a rolling pin for muddling the ingredients together.
  3. If you’re planning a cocktail party, surprise your guests by offering a mixture of glasses, such as Champagne glasses, martini glasses and tumblers.
  4. It’s really important that you have ice available to you.


P.S., Be careful to not overdo it on the alcohol; the philosophy of cocktails was to create a method for enjoying ‘heavy’ drinks in a balanced and delightful way.

Berry cocktail sat beside a bottle of Stratford Gin, and a bottle of Chambord.

What’s your favourite cocktail recipe?

My favourite cocktail has to be ‘The Italian Tequila’, which I created, and is very easy to make. All you need is a nice tequila – such as Patron, with cherry tomatoes, fresh basil and sugar.


To make The Italian Tequila, simply place the tomatoes, basil and sugar into a cocktail shaker and muddler. Then add in the tequila and ice, and shake vigorously for about 10 seconds, before straining into a tall tumbler filled with ice. Finally, decorate with basil leaves and half a tomato.


What are your staple ingredients for any cocktail?

A cocktail is generally comprised of three staple parts: the base, the flavouring and the dye.


  1. The ‘base’ usually consists of an alcoholic spirit – such as gin, vodka, rum, tequila, whisky, or sparkling wines.
  2. Flavourings are then added, and can include Chambord (black raspberry liqueur), Frangelico (hazelnut liqueur), Cointreau (orange liqueur), Kahlúa (coffee liqueur), Archers (peach liqueur) or Disaronno.
  3. Dyes commonly include orange juice, cranberry juice pineapple juice, coffee, soda water, lemonade, Coca Cola, tonic water or tomato juice.


Do you like to use any fresh/seasonal ingredients in your cocktails?

Wherever possible, I like to use fresh products rather than carton juices in my cocktails., since they offer more flavour and deeper colour. Fresh products can also be used for garnishes – for example, you could make your own lemon twist or orange peel.


What are your top tips for garnishing cocktails?

My advice for garnishing cocktails is to try and create something simple but nice; aim for a garnish that’s aesthetically pleasing and colourful. For example, you could try and make an ‘angel wing’ by shaping some orange peel. This looks great added to the side of a glass. Try to connect the decoration to the drink itself for maximum effect, and, of course, to impress your dinner guests! It’s easier to do this if you’re using fresh ingredients – so try to consider this beforehand.

Berry cocktail sat beside a bottle of Stratford Gin.

Do you have any unique/favourite flavour combinations for cocktails?

I love using the classic sweet and sour, mint and strawberry, berries and apple juice flavour combinations – especially when paired with a smooth vodka! My personal favourite, though, is definitely honey with hazelnuts.


What’s the key to making a great mocktail?

The key to making a great mocktail or cocktail is to always have good quality ingredients, and work with a creative mind when mixing. Don’t be afraid to experiment; there is no right or wrong, as long as the end result tastes good!


At Billesley Manor, we love creating delicious, seasonal cocktails for our guests to enjoy. To discover more, please click here.