Photo cred - forgottenhall

Every weekend you say the same thing to yourself as you're picking up wine (for the thousandth) time at the dep: "I really need to step up my cocktail game." The thing is, every time you make it out the to bar, you get all intimidated by the crazy concoctions bartenders are serving up, and your meek little self just crawls back to that dep-comfort zone, and next week your still drinking the same thing.

We're going to let you in on a little secret: making delicious cocktails is not hard to do. And we're going to let you in on another secret, because we're nice like that: the SAQ has everything you will ever need to up your cocktail game, which will lead to a better drinking experience and friends impressed with your new-found (and incredibly useful) drink-knowledge.

Before we delve too far into the realm of cocktails, let's break it down. At the start of every mixed drink is the alcohol (obviously) which are basically separated into 3 different types:

  • 'base' liquors (simple stuff like gin, rum, tequila, and vodka)
  • 'liqueurs' (fruit-infused alcohols that are used to flavour beverages)
  • 'creams' (smooth and creamy alcohols that are mixed into a cocktail or served on ice, like Baileys)

A single cocktail may use just one of the above, or a mix of two, depending on the drink itself. From there, you add in some other flavourings to compliment the alcohols (like mint or a fruit juice), then you fill out the drink with an "allongeurs," which is a fancy term for chaser/a sparkling soda of sorts.

Some cocktails don't even use all three of the above, making your life that much easier. What really makes your journey into the realm of magical mixed drinks even simpler is the fact that the SAQ pretty much has everything you'll need to make any beverage on your "to drink" list.

In-store and online, the SAQ now has the "Espace Cocktail" section, designed to help you mix your own drinks, so you don't need to buy them at the bar. Any SAQ employee will be able to help you make whatever drink you'll have in mind, but those of you who truly have no clue about the world of cocktails should head to the online resource first. Not only do they have a basic breakdown of all cocktail ingredients, the SAQ website also has a handy "drink spinner" to give you ideas and recipes.

The selection at any given SAQ may vary, so you may not find the exact base or liqueur a mixed drink recipe calls for, but no stress. Making cocktails isn't like cooking or baking; you can easily substitute one ingredient in place of another. If there's no strawberry liqueur, use raspberry; if you all the vodka is out, just use gin. At the end of the eve, you'll still have a delicious drink.

Making a fancy cocktail, margarita, martini, or any kind of beverage is just a trip to the SAQ away. Whether you're entertaining or just having your significant other over, save some cash and be the bartender for the evening instead of heading out.

Find out more about all things mixed drinks by heading to the Espace Cocktail site here.

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