6 Ways to Take Your Cocktails to the Next Level

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We're all for a good glass of craft beer or wine, but sometimes when you're entertaining, only a fabulous cocktail will do. They're a great way to play with seasonal flavors and show off a little for guests. Even if you haven't mastered the art of cocktail making just yet, you probably have a few go-to drinks in your repertoire that you can mix up in two seconds flats. These quick and easy tips will instantly take those tried and true libations from standard to show-stopping — no major effort or culinary skills required.

1. Amp up your simple syrup. You don't have to go crazy stocking up your liquor cabinet with spirits in unheard of flavors to put together a top-notch libation. Infused simple syrups aren't just easy (and inexpensive) to make, they pack a major punch for your taste buds. Simple syrup is simply one part sugar to one part water, with water heated until the sugar dissolves and the mixture becomes a thick viscous liquid. Once the sugar is dissolved and the mixture removed from the heat, you can add everything from fresh herbs like basil, rosemary and mint to berries, spices to the mix. Just add to the simple syrup, allow to steep until the flavors have infused, then strain and store in the refrigerator for up to six months.

2. Get garnishing. Presentation is everything. Jazz up that glass with a sprig of rosemary, a perfectly cut slice of lime or a few fresh berries for a drink that is just as pretty as it is delicious.

3. Think about the extras. If you don't consider yourself much of a mixologist, but are still looking for way to give your drink of choice a kick, offering guests a few inspired add-ins isn't a bad bet. Sipping champagne? Whip up a few different infused simple syrups and flavored sugar rims and let everyone go crazy giving their bubbly a bit of personal flair. A Bloody Mary bar at brunch is another detail that will go over big; offer unexpected garnishes or a few different tomato bases in varying degrees of heat.

4. Make a splash with flavored ice. Flavored cubes aren't just a great way to prevent drinks from getting watery, they can also add complexity to a drink. For herb-infused ice cubes, add herbs to boiling water and let stand for five minutes. Strain, add to ice-cube molds and freeze. You can also freeze fruit purees, pieces of fruit and juices as well.

5. Puree it up. Fruit purees are crazy easy to make and are perfect when you're short on time, but still want to make a big impression. Just toss your favorite fruits into a blender, then add the puree to everything from prosecco to gin and tonics and everything in between — including straight up club soda.

6. Choose the right glass. Whatever your drink of choice, a pretty glass goes a long way when it comes to presentation. Go for funky shapes, cool colors, unexpected vessels or old world designs that are anything but short on style.

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