Mix master

Cocktail hour? I asked Josh Nelson, managing partner at Ella Dining Room and Bar, for his top insights on mixing great drinks:

1. “If you can use something fresh, use it. For our appletini, we use an apple, not apple-flavored vodka. Rather than using an infused vodka, use lemon juice, lime juice, fresh berries.”

2. “Another big one to me is balance: People make really stiff drinks, and you can’t enjoy more than one. I would rather enjoy two or three cocktails and be able to walk rather than having to crawl after one. One example is knowing why you’re shaking a cocktail for 10 seconds; you’re melting the ice into water and creating a drink that’s more balanced.”

3. “We have the philosophy of less is better—I’m working on a drink right now with lemon, honey and gin. It’s really simple and pure and clean, and that’s the beauty of the drink. [If we] add more things, it ends up like a piece of candy in a glass. Don’t overthink your drink.”