Assuming you are of the legal drinking age, drinking may be a significant part of your college experience. There’s nothing wrong with this: popular culture certainly emphasizes it and, quite frankly, it’s popular for a reason. Used properly it’s a great time, but if you are drinking legally, you may be overlooking simple ways to maximize your drinking experience.

 

1: Get the gear

If you want to make good drinks, get the equipment necessary. Strainers are a good measure to make sure you can use ice without watering down a drink, and similarly, Whisky Stones, which are freezable cubes can be used to make sure a drink is cold without weakening the potency. Having varied mixers of different types is another way to make sure your gear is on point. If your gear is on point, the drinks you make will similarly be on point. A measuring cup will both make sure that your drinks are made according to recipe and also aren’t too strong or weak. Similarly…

 

2: Don’t skimp

You get out of things what you put into them. Similarly, don’t skimp on the quality of your ingredients. Cheaping out on mixers isn’t a good play, and similarly, don’t seek to downgrade the quality of your alcohol. Maybe it’s cheaper, sure, but keep in mind: alcohol, even at its best, is a special and specific type of poison. Put in the extra few bucks to make sure its manageable, and not a torture of every drink you make. That’s the difference between impressive and mature beverages and clutching your stomach four drinks later. Remember that and act accordingly.

 

3: Be creative

Eventually, even the classic drinks you make will get boring. Shots become a routine and the typical mixed drinks you make will become, well, typical. With that in mind, be clever. Check things online with your favorite drink or mixer involved, and even then, consider clever alternatives. Do you like Whiskey Gingers? Try Ginger-beer instead of ginger ale. Or add maple syrup for a sweet change of pace. Or add actual ginger or hot pepper for some bite in the same drink. Or…do anything, really. Tinker with the recipe or experiment with a new beverage entirely. You may as well, really. At the very least you’ll look pretty clever.

 

4: Find a Favorite

Do you like Gin and Tonics? Is Whiskey, plain or mixed, more your speed? Are you a micro-brewed or cheap beer guy or gal? Mix around and play with the different options available to you before you concede to vodka shots out of habit. There are tons of options around and finding a favorite both gives you a personal drinking signature but also the chance to maximize your own fun every time you drink. It’s nice having a cozy standard to go to, too.

 

5: Drink responsibly

Ultimately, this is the most important step. Whatever you do involving alcohol has to be managed properly. Alcohol, at its core, is a difficult thing to manage. Sure, it’s fun, but it’s also dangerous, both on the melodramatic after-school special sense and on the very basic level. You can follow all the above advice and make wonderful interesting cocktails, but if you have eleven of them and end of sick and miserable all night, it doesn’t matter. So be sensible and drink responsibly. All things are best in moderation, and alcohol is no exception. Otherwise instead of writing about the best way to make cocktails, you might be writing about why you should never, ever drink again. And that would be a lot less fun, all things considered.