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A beginner’s guide to cocktail making with Maybe Sammy

For most of us in Australia right now, the days of heading out to our favourite bar and swiping up our cocktail of choice are on an indefinite hold. But that doesn’t mean we can’t still make a little bit of our own magic at home, and why not swap out your new penchant for sourdough baking with becoming your own bartender? To get the lowdown on how we can spice up our lives with cocktails for ourselves, we speak to bartender Andrea Gualdi of Sydney joint Maybe Sammy – which has been attributed as one of the best bars in the world – who generously shared his expertise on the subject.

What’s the best occasion for a cocktail?
There is always a good occasion for a cocktail, but my favourite is being with friends for an Italian Aperitivo, or a pre-meal drink. It’s an Italian tradition, but also a good reason to spend more time enjoying being with friends before a meal.

What ingredients do you need to start with for making a cocktail?
There are so many ingredients to make amazing flavour combinations, but for any beginner, start off with a simple recipe to gain an understanding on how different flavours work together. As a start, you can try a Negroni as it’s only three ingredients: Campari, gin and vermouth rosso.

Do you need to know how to make every cocktail, or is it better to have a specialty?
Absolutely not, that’s what recipes are for, right! For any cocktail connoisseur or new starter, it is good to learn and understand how flavours work together. Trying out classic recipes is always a great place to start. Mastering these will help you understand different flavours and how some can work together.

What drink should a beginner cocktail-maker start with?
I’m biased, but definitely a Negroni! Not only does it taste great with its fruity and bitter flavours, but it’s also easy to make as it only needs three ingredients. It’s a great starter into the world of cocktail making and a classic that will never go out of fashion.

What drink should a beginner’s cocktail drink start with?
Aperol spritz, it’s very hard not to like it. It’s another simple, classic cocktail that packs a punch in flavour; slightly bitter, with a hint of sweetness and a light tang of herbs.

What’s your favourite cocktail to make?
Campari shakerato (a huge dose of Campari, shaken hard). It’s simple to make, tasting both bitter and fruity, with hints of cinnamon.

Can you talk us through how to make it?
Combine Campari and a couple of ice cubes in a shaker. I love to add a dash of gin too for an extra layer of flavour. Shake as hard as you can and strain into a glass, my preference is a coupette glass. Garnish with a zest of citrus to give some citric notes to the drink; I love to use lemon.

Why are different cocktails served in different glasses?
The glass should be chosen based on the best way to enjoy the cocktail, as well as the choice of ice or garnish. Every element gives a different drinking experience. For example, a simple yet classic cocktail like a Negroni or straight liquors are typically served on the rocks in a classic short tumbler.

What makes a cocktail bad?
The beauty of cocktails is that there is one for everyone’s different preferences and palates. Just like food, it’s important to use quality produce to create a cocktail. The higher quality the ingredients, the better the result.

How many cocktails is too many cocktails?Everything should be enjoyed in moderation. I recommend enjoying the cocktails the Italian way, toasting with food!

You can follow Andrea Gualdi here.