5 Craft Cocktail Trends to Spice Up Your Next At-Home Happy Hour

From sriracha-infused salt rims to a splash of kombucha, these creative cocktail tricks will instantly upgrade your home bartending game.

Though the fun of happy hour specials and brunch mimosas may feel like a distant memory these days, having a craft cocktail should not. Bring your at-home happy hour game up to speed with a few simple upgrades that will change the way you make drinks forever. From sriracha-infused salted rims to gut-healthy mixers for an almost guilt-free drink, these easy additions can quickly make your cocktails (or mocktails) next-level good.

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Make Your Own Infused Salted Rim Flavors

When making a margarita on a weeknight, you might skip out on a salted rim for the sake of time and efficiency. We get it—but sleeping on this cocktail accessory can have a major impact on the flavor of your drink. A salty rim is believed to stimulate your taste buds and help mitigate the liquor's bitterness and the lime's tartness, yielding a much more balanced beverage.

Care to kick it up a notch? Infuse your traditional salted rim with aromatic ingredients like rosemary or sriracha to complement the flavor profile of your drink choice. To make your infusions, simply combine ½ cup of course salt with about 3 tablespoons of finely-minced ingredients—think seeded jalapeños, lime zest, or crushed freeze-dried raspberries. For sriracha salt, combine ½ cup of course salt, 2 tablespoons of sriracha, ½ teaspoon of lime juice, then place spread out on a parchment-lined baking sheet and allow to dry overnight.

To adhere the salt onto your rim, place the surface of the open-end of the glass in a container filled with ¼ inch of water, juice, or simple syrup before dipping it into the salt. If salt isn't your jam, feel free to experiment with sugar rims instead.

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Darken Things Up With Activated Charcoal

Give your happy hour drink a spooky look by using activated charcoal, which turns your cocktails Halloween-black. To make your activated charcoal cocktail (or mocktail), simply add ¼ teaspoon of food-grade activated charcoal to your favorite drink, like a Moscow mule or old-fashioned.

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Stir in a Gut-Healthy Mixer

Brands selling hard kombucha (like JuneShine) include ingredients like fermented symbiotic cultures of bacteria, and yeast that have a bounty of gut-healthy probiotics, antioxidants, and vitamins. Use a splash of this flavored drink as a mixer for your classic cocktail recipes, or stir in some of the apple cider drinking vinegar from Trader Joe's or Suja Organic for an almost guilt-free happy hour (and a tangy taste that perfectly complements tequila or vodka).

RELATED: The Many Pros of Probiotics and How They Affect Your Health

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Make Smoky Garnishes for Added Depth of Flavor

Fire up happy hour with a few DIY smoky garnishes that'll make you look like a bartending pro and infuse your drink with the woodsy aroma of nature. You've likely been served an orange or lemon peel rind in your drink before, but using a little warmth from a match or lighter can help intensify its citrusy notes even further. To do so, cut a 2-inch strip of the citrus of your choice (like orange or grapefruit) and gently squeeze the rind over a lit match or lighter. Make sure to point the porous side of the peel towards the glass for maximum flavoring potential and safety.

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Avoid a Hangover With Hydrating Mixers

Avoid dealing with the dreaded post-happy hour hangover by infusing your drink with hydrating and electrolyte-rich mixers. As a rule of thumb, to avoid dehydration, drinking a glass of water between drinks can significantly help the cause. However, if you're looking to boost your hydration even more, incorporate ingredients like coconut water or flavored sparkling water like Spindrift or Bubly when whipping up a drink.

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