The ability to mix a good cocktail can seem like a talent given only to a chosen few, like being fluent in several languages or juggling blenders. But actually, you just need to follow a few simple rules to produce a decent, if not excellent, drink for you and your guests. Notable food writer Mark Bittman has just four rules, and twelve simple cocktails, as noted in yesterday's New York Times.
• Keep it simple. Stock your bar with a few favorite bottles, bitters, sweet vermouth, Triple Sec, simple syrup and sodas. Then the only thing you need is some fruit (lemon, lime) and some herbs and you're set.
• Keep keeping it simple. You don't need a lot of fancy barware, but a shaker and strainer will probably come in handy.
• Taste is Important. Be sure to purchase good-tasting booze, which isn't always the most expensive.
• Make it a stiff one. Pour around a quarter cup of booze into each drink, or about 1/3 more than usual. You want to be able to taste the liquor in your cocktail.
Read More: It's 5 O'Clock Somewhere at The New York Times
Related: Bar Basics: 12 Bottles Any Bar Should Have
(Image: Dana Velden)