Bartender reveals how to level up your cocktails at home with one simple trick – and it will leave your guests very impressed

  • A bartender has revealed how to level up cocktails at home with easy tricks
  • She says smoking a glass, using cinnamon, is simple and very effective
  • She also recommends using fruit and herbs to add flavour to simple syrup 

Hayley Dixon, who is the National Spirits Specialist for Proximo Spirits and loves everything tequila, told FEMAIL elevating a drink is simple

One of Australia’s top bartenders has shared her tips on making sophisticated cocktails at home – including how to smoke a glass for the perfect old fashioned.

Hayley Dixon, who is the National Spirits Specialist for Proximo Spirits and loves everything tequila, told FEMAIL elevating a drink is simple.

And you can use things you already have at home including fruit, rosemary and cinnamon.

When smoking a glass you have to pick what you want to smoke it with – woodchips, cinnamon or rosemary. 

‘When smoking a glass, it is best to have a completely flat plate or board (not wood obviously). This allows you to ‘seal’ the glass when you place it upside down and will provide a more intense smoke flavour,’ she said.

The glass should also be damp, twirling ice around it will do the trick, as this gives the smoke something to stick to.

‘If you have access to a small blowtorch, simply break off some cinnamon stick and create a small ‘pile’ to light. This will let you get the full glass over the top and will save wasting an entire cinnamon stick,’ she said.

However setting the end of a cinnamon stick alight and popping it under the glass once you have blown it out works too.

The method is the same for specialist woodchips and rosemary, she said.

The next thing people can do to make their own sophisticated cocktails is to perfect their sugar syrup.

‘If you have some herbs, or fruit that is looking a bit worse for wear instead of throwing them out, add equal parts water and caster sugar to a pot and toss them in. If using citrus, just the peels work well in this,’ she said.

‘Simmer times will vary depending on what you are using, but generally, around 15-20 minutes will be enough. Strain everything out and bottle.’

Hayley says you can take home-made old fashions to the next level by smoking your own glasses

This can be added to tequila and soda water for an ‘easy highball’.

It’s also possible to make fancy cocktails for a lot of guests – without them having to wait, she explained, recommending hosts ‘pre-batch’.

‘If making a shaken cocktail pre-batch your ingredients but don’t skip out on the shaking! It will give your cocktail much-needed aeration, and dilution and get it nice and cold before serving.’

Booze-heavy cocktails should be diluted a little so that they are ready to drink as soon as they have been put on ice.

Ms Dixon is also a proud advocate of her favourite spirit and says it can easy replace whisky or vodka in your favourites.

‘Tequila is an extremely versatile spirit as you can easily swap in for the traditional base. The flavour palate of 1800 Silver is great for any gin or vodka drink, switch any lighter styled whisky for 1800 Reposado. 1800 Anejo offers a deeper and richer flavour and can be swapped in for a scotch,’ she said.

Ms Dixon is sharing her tips following an explosion in cocktail culture across Australia in the last 12 months. 

What are some easy cocktails to make at home?

Cinnamon Smoked Old Fashioned 


50ml Anejo tequila

10ml agave syrup 

Angostura orange bitters two dashes

Angostura Bitters two dashes

One cinnamon smoked glass 

Garnish: Orange zest and cinnamon


1. Add all ingredients to mixing glass filled with ice 2. Stir down until combined and chilled 3. Add ice to double rocks glass and stir until glass is cold 4. Tip out ice from double rocks 5. Light tip of cinnamon on a flat plate using a lighter or blow torch and place chilled double rocks glass over the end once it starts smoking 6. Once filled with smoke, flip over and immediately fill glass with ice again 7. Strain cocktail into glass 8. Garnish with orange zest and a grated cinnamon

Tequila Coffee 


 30ml Silver tequila

10ml Pedro Ximenez 

10ml Dark Crème De Cacao

15ml Coffee liqueur 

5ml simple syrup

15ml Cold drip coffee 

45ml Sweetened vanilla cream

Garnish with grated coffee bean


1. Add all ingredients, minus cream, to a mixing glass filled with ice 2. Stir down until diluted and chilled 3. Single strain into a chilled coupe glass 4. Using a ‘sauce’ bottle float cream on top of the drink 5. Garnish with grated coffee bean *Vanilla cream is made by adding thickened cream, sugar cubes, and vanilla extract to a small sauce bottle and shaking for around 30 seconds until light and fluffy

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