Bartenders and cocktail enthusiasts have taken over Instagram.

While it may seem taboo, social networks are a real job for many people. The thought and detail that goes into the simple post you scroll past is how some make a living. There is much more to it than what meets the eye.

Chilled tapped into some cocktail influencers who are spending time behind the app rather than the stick.

Snehal D'cunha

Snehal D’cunha

Snehal D’cunha is a home cocktail enthusiast. With no prior experience in the industry, he began enjoying the process and creative part of creating cocktails from his cousin. Snehal started crafting classic cocktails and learning about different spirits, which later led him to post his mixes on Instagram @sne_dec with over 3.2K followers.

@sne_dec

@sne_dec

Is this a full-time job?

I am actually a full-time Software Engineer, and making cocktails is more of my passion project for now. I started out doing this for fun and more to archive my experiments on Instagram. But before I knew it, my posts started getting attention from fellow cocktail enthusiasts and even professional bartenders. This recognition is truly what gave me the confidence and motivation to keep doing what I love and exploring the art of mixology.

Tips on high-quality images?

Every minute element matters when capturing a top-quality cocktail picture. Pay attention to the glassware and if it resonates with the cocktail. Always use good quality clear ice as it will melt slower, giving you more time to photograph. Good light and lighting angle are paramount to a great capture. In my opinion, keeping an angle of more than 90 degrees between the camera and the light source provides better light diffusion in the cocktail and provides a great-looking cocktail picture.

Favorite ingredients?

I love cocktails that have Campari or Aperol, and they are my favorite Amari! Anything with orgeat syrup always catches my eye as it provides a certain texture to the cocktail with a beautiful nutty flavor. I am also a sucker for fresh pineapple juice as it provides a sweet tropical flavor and a beautiful foam on top of the cocktail.

Mia Martin

Mia Martin

Mia Martin created her Instagram page @cocktails.by.mia (1.3K followers) after the pandemic forced her and everyone to sit at home. She found an interest in anything related to mixology, and it quickly became a fun outlet for her to share her cocktails with the world.

Creating engaging posts?

Engagement is key. Simply posting a pretty picture is not enough. Connecting with other content creators within the mixology space, being reshared by other accounts/brands, participating in competitions, and any other kind of active exposure is key. As you grow, more of these opportunities will start to find you, but it is very important to keep looking for such opportunities yourself, as to how engaging your posts are and how fast you grow is mainly in your hands.

Special equipment?

I got myself a professional camera for Christmas to improve my game (Canon EOS Rebel T100 with a 50mm f/1.8 lens). I also use a photo studio box for some pictures. Finally, I do minor color-correcting touch-ups on some photos (mainly to remove any glare or to adjust the brightness).

Tips on high-quality images?

The lighting plays a much bigger role than I had initially thought. Unless you have great lighting at home, take advantage of daylight. Using a professional camera also does wonders to allow the photos to truly “pop” and stand out.


Carolyn Sims

Carolyn Sims

Cocktail enthusiast Carolyn Sims created her Instagram @carolinaberbena (6.6K followers) to showcase the delicious cocktails she makes at home. After having experience serving and making drinks while bartending during college and serving beer at a golf course, she uses her Instagram as a creative outlet for posting adventurous cocktails.

@carolinaberbena

@carolinaberbena

What type of posts do well?

For me, I consider the posts that seem to resonate with people to be the best measure of how successful a post is. Pretty pictures are nice, but that little bit of humanity and reality that goes along with the image is my favorite part. I’m typically a pretty private person, which I suppose is ironic for someone who has a public Instagram page dedicated to sharing their drinks at home. But to me, the posts I feel are successful are the ones that include a story behind them, be it a little anecdote about my life or extra detail about the thought process or inspiration behind the drink. When I’m scrolling Instagram, those posts that have a little extra personality are the ones I feel connected to the most — which is something I try to keep in mind when I’m creating my own. Sure, it’s easy to measure success by “likes,” but connecting to the person behind the post is what I think of as truly meaningful.

Tips on high-quality images?

Since my page is all about cocktails you can recreate at home, the setting/background for my photos is constantly changing! Some days, the lighting is better in the kitchen, so that’s where I shoot. Other days, the dining room or record player feels right. I’ve even taken some of my favorite pictures in a little corner of my bedroom where the light is just right. Lately, I’ve been loving the lush green background of my front porch (and plants), so I’ve been taking loads of pictures there. In my experience, the key to a high-quality photo is lighting. I typically only use natural light, so finding the right spot with a setting that is pretty but not distracting is the sweet spot for me. Because I’m making (and photographing) everything at home, editing is a big part of the finished photo. There have been plenty of times, I think, “that’s the shot,” only to get everything into Adobe and see that my cat is visibly napping in the background or that pile of laundry wasn’t quite out of frame. A quick crop fixes all kinds of “real life” in the background.

Tips for followers & engaging content?

I’ve found that gaining followers really adds up to three things: authenticity in your content, frequency of posting/engagement, and luck. Sometimes people like what you’re putting out into the world, and sometimes not so much. And to me, that’s OK because if you’re happy with what you’re creating, it’ll eventually stick. The right audience is out there. Ultimately, be an active member of the cocktail community on Instagram. So comment on posts, follow accounts you enjoy and admire, and engage with the content you love and is in line with your own page.


Connor Stehr

Connor Stehr

Connor Stehr takes beautiful cocktail images. Using Instagram @shake_and_stehr and his 9.8K followers, he blesses his timeline with stunning and eye-catching drinks. He began creating cocktails and taking pictures after he moved into his first apartment and was gifted liquor bottles by friends and family. While Instagram is mainly for fun, it allowed Connor to create a professional cocktail photography business from it.

@shake_and_stehr

@shake_and_stehr

Tips on high-quality images?

Understanding how light works in respect to a camera. Yes, there are some relatively simple things you need to learn about photography first, but lighting trumps everything in taking photos. You don’t need a good camera; you don’t need fancy props; you don’t need snazzy garnishes. You need some lighting and an understanding of how to use it. It’s not difficult—just notice where shadows are coming from and where the lighting is coming from in your favorite pictures.

Do you create Instagram reels?

I just recently started making reels now that I’m content with the quality I can put out there. Cocktails have always been a calming stress release for me, so I try to make slower/calmer videos to reflect that.

Tips for followers & engaging content?

Honestly, I’m not sure. I’ve been doing my IG for years, and I’ve had small growth and haven’t really breaking out. Just don’t be phony, people can sniff that out, and it’s lame. I love following cocktail/photography enthusiasts, people who are just really passionate about either/or.