I love cocktails, I think they’re so enjoyable on so many levels. They’re creative and anyone can invent their own perfectly original cocktail, they’re pleasing on the eye and can be colourful and have many different kinds of garnishes. No matter what kind of mood you’re in or what the occasion or company you find yourself in, there is a cocktail with your name on it.
In this post I would like to teach you the basic science behind making a great cocktail and introduce you to a few of my favourite go to cocktails. Firstly let’s talk about what characteristics a basic cocktail should have:
– It should be made from good-quality, high-proof liquors.
– It should whet rather than dull the appetite. Thus, it should never be sweet or syrupy, or contain too much fruit juice, egg or cream.
– It should be dry, with sufficient alcoholic flavor, yet smooth and pleasing to the palate.
– It should be pleasing to the eye.
– It should be well-iced.
Probably the most important point is the first one, remember that a cocktail is only as good as the quality of its worst ingredient. Moving on, there are three basic components of a cocktail, and they are the base, the modifying agent and any special flavouring and colouring agents.
The base is the principal ingredient of the cocktail. It is typically a single spirituous liquor, such as rum, gin or whiskey, and typically makes up 75 percent or more of the total volume of the cocktail before icing.
The modifying agent is the ingredient that gives the cocktail its character. Its function is to soften the raw alcohol taste of the base, while at the same time to enhance its natural flavor. Typical modifying agents are aromatic wines (such as vermouth) and spirits (such as Fernet Branca or Amer Picon), bitters, fruit juices and “smoothing agents” such as sugar, eggs, and cream.
Special flavoring and colouring agents include liqueurs (such as Grand Marnier or Chartreuse), Cordials, and non-alcoholic flavored syrups (such as Grenadine or Orgeat syrup). These are typically used in place of simple syrup, and are to be used sparingly.
Any cocktail is made in a manner that uses these three components. The final two aspects of a good cocktail which I will touch on briefly are the garnish and the glassware. They are both very subjective and are more to suit the mood of the cocktail, tropical drinks such as the Pina Colada invariably are garnished with a umbrella and served in a tall glass. Most man drinks are served in short glasses and sparingly garnished with a lime wedge or a cherry such as in the case of an Old Fashioned.
The following are five of my favourite go to cocktails (click on their names for mixing instructions):
This is the classic that epitomizes the standard for a good cocktail. It’s perfect for any time of the day and any occasion and if you like olives then you’re in for double the fun. I drink it all the time.
They call it this probably because people have been drinking its main ingrediant whiskey for a long, long time. The cherry in it makes it more of an evening drink and one I usually order when surrounded by friends. It’s very smooth and the cherry at the end provides for a sweet finish.
#3 French 75
A champagne cocktail at long last. This is a perfect drink for when you’re on a date with that special someone. It’s very luxurious and the cherry in the glass makes sure your date knows where you hope the night will lead.
A very green cocktail which always makes me think I’m in Cuba because it was my Cuban spanish teacher who introduced it to me. It’s a great party drink and good for lounging on a hot day by the beach.
A citrus blast. A perfect wake up in the morning cocktail for all us alcoholics. No matter what people say, I’m not an alcoholic but I guess denial is the first symptom.
A final piece of wisdom before I end this post. REAL MEN DON’T DRINK PINK DRINKS!