This month, VinePair is exploring how drinks pros are taking on old trends with modern innovations. In Old Skills, New Tricks, we examine contemporary approaches to classic cocktails and clever techniques behind the bar — plus convention-breaking practices in wine, beer, whiskey, and more.
From opening wine bottles with lighters to concocting recipes with unlikely ingredients, most folks probably have a trick or two up their sleeves for making or drinking their favorite beverages. And, of course, the VinePair team is no exception.
From an even simpler simple syrup recipe to a tip for making foamy cocktails sans egg white, read on for the VinePair staff’s ultimate list of the best drinks hacks.
“My favorite hack is using a boot to get the cork out of a wine bottle! You put a wine bottle into a boot with a thick sole and bang the sole against a wall until you slowly start to see the cork coming out. Just keep an eye on the cork… otherwise you’ll have a really unfortunate mess.” —Lily Nelson, video and social media producer
“My favorite drinks hack is adding a bit of salt to most of the cocktails I make. It’s a flavor enhancer — that’s true with cocktails just like food.” —Zach Geballe, “VinePair Podcast” host
“Lately, I’ve been swapping out the spirits in classic cocktails as a fun way to enjoy old favorites. My newest go-to has been shaking up Piña Coladas with tequila instead of rum.” —Katie Brown, associate editor
“For a foamy/frothy cocktail, if one wants an egg white-free version, use Fee Brothers Fee Foam, which is inexpensive, lasts for a while after opening, and can be used in multiple drinks as a little goes a long way! —Allison Kuklinski, manager, brand partnerships & activations
“It’s a simple one, but I think my favorite drinks hack is using Simply Limeade in cocktails. Originally a childhood favorite, lemonade’s underrated twin has now provided an endless wave of fun cocktails and is truly so refreshing. I also love to add a pinch of kosher salt to my drink (whether it’s spiked, sparkling, or served on its own) to really activate the lime juice. An honorable mention also goes to Dr. Brown’s Cel-Ray (Celery Soda) which, when added, creates a true extravaganza!” —Emma Cranston, assistant editor
“I never manage to keep simple syrup on hand, so a recent trick I picked up is quickly blitzing some together in the blender when I need it for cocktails. It’s faster than making it on the stove or even dissolving with hot water because it doesn’t require any cooling time. It’s admittedly not the best method for a rich or infused simple syrup, but it works pretty well in a pinch.” —Joanna Sciarrino, executive editor
“When wine has gone a little off, I like to mix it with some Coca-Cola for a Kalimotxo like they do it in the tapas bars of Spain” —Keith Beavers, tastings director
“I know this gets old but my favorite drinks hack is salting the ice! When salt touches ice, the ice cubes will melt at a temperature lower than the freezing point of water. Thus, it cools your drink faster. Come on, who doesn’t love a cold drink?” —Elgin Nelson, editorial intern
“Basically every time I have a bottle of wine with no opener, which is embarrassingly too often, I place the bottom of the bottle in a sneaker. I lightly tap it against a wall and until the cork begins to come out enough for me to remove it myself!” —Jenna Barry, marketing intern