Sometimes it’s the little things that can make the difference between an amazing cocktail, an average one to one that simply gets spit into the sink. To create a cocktail with that “WOW” factor you’re looking for, there are a few important crucial elements involved. Marina Club wanted to share some tricks of the art that is Cocktail Creation.
1. Fresh is always Best
The early bird catches …the best ingredients. This primarily refers to fruit juices. Whenever possible, choose fresh instead of canned or bottled ingredients for your cocktails. Many of the bottled mixers will include unwanted additives that take away from the freshness of the cocktail.
Therefore, if you have the time it’s worth taking a trip to the farmer’s market so that you’d be able to benefit from all the richness in fresh produce. The answer can be as simple as squeezing lemons, limes and oranges with a hand juicer or getting an electric juicer to make fresh apple, cranberry, pear or any other type of fresh fruit juice.
2. The Weak will Inherit the cocktail
You might be wondering, how should you combine spirits? The answer is, use similar spirits. The ratio is as simple as an ounce per spirit. To combine a different flavour profile of spirits (i.e. the weak versus strong spirits), an ounce and a half of the weakest and a half-ounce of the strongest could also do the trick.
So, for instance, gin with mezcal, it’s an ounce and a half of gin, half-ounce of mezcal. Do the reverse, and the gin will disappear. The smokiness of the mezcal will take the spirit away. When the spirits are similar like bourbon and dark rum, then the one ounce per spirit applies. Similar spirits used in equal amountss blend very well together.
3. Balance is Key
To make a balanced cocktail, use two ounces of a base spirit, three-quarters of sour and an ounce of sweet simple syrup (1:1 sugar and water) or three-quarters of rich simple syrup (2:1 sugar and water). You can also use two ounces of spirit instead of the usual one and a half. For stirred drinks, a good formula is 2 ounces base spirit which can be broken down into two spirits, 1 ounce of flavouring agent which can be up to three ingredients and then 3 to 4 dashes of bitters.
4. You can’t go wrong when you build on the Classics
All classic cocktails share basic ingredients, this makes it easy to switch out the base spirit, sweetening agent, citrus, etcetera, to create different drinks. For example, with a whiskey sour, if you change one ingredient, like say for instance, replacing the whiskey with Citron vodka, you get a Lemon Drop cocktail. While it might not be a classic it’s very popular, nonetheless. When you change out the vodka for gin and lime for lemon, you now have a Gimlet. Rum instead of gin and you have a Daiquiri.
5. The importance of Good Quality Liquor
It’s importance to understand the significant difference between distilled spirits on the top shelf and the bottom shelf at the liquor shop. Remember, your drinks will reflect the quality of their ingredients and, because liquor is typically the strongest ingredient in a drink, it’s of utter important to invest in quality.
A Martini made with an inferior quality of gin is going to be substandard compared to one made with that’s top of the range. That said, you needn’t spend a fortune each time you buy alcohol. Of course, you can opt for very good mid-range brands available that are perfect for “everyday” mixing that shouldn’t break the bank.
6. Even with Good Quality Alcohol, Sugar is still an Important Component
Three-quarter of an ounce liquor complemented with a quarter of an ounce simple syrup because good quality liquors, often don’t contain enough sugar. Think of it like cooking a sauce. All the essential flavours are there: the tomato, basil, rich minced meat, carrots, onions… But you know something’s missing. Throw in a pinch of salt and voilà! all the flavours are suddenly enhanced and come together. The same theory can be applied with the inclusion of a simple syrup in a cocktail.
7. Only Shake Sour-Style Cocktails
This refers to cocktails that whose main constituent is citrus. Firstly, because the density of the citrus and syrup need more strength to mix together. Secondly, because they’re meant to be drunk while they’re still ‘alive’ and bubbly. These bubbles don’t work with stirred drinks, like Manhattans. A stirred cocktail is supposed to be strong and flavourful.
8. Remember your Garnish!
Aside from the aesthetic quality, garnish also creates an aroma. Naturally, a cocktail is initially judged with the visual presentation we provide, we then judge it with our nose. This will ultimately entice your last sense – the sense of taste, which is probably the most important when serving a cocktail.
After all, what is a Gin and Tonic without the lime, a subtle citrus and a Martini without the olives? Garnishes are important and even if their absence doesn’t ruin the complete cocktail, it would certainly be lacking in the flavour enhancement department.
9. Measure Everything
The significance of measuring cocktail ingredients cannot be stressed enough. Many people overlook this step since it’s time-consuming or because they like the show of a free pour. Measuring guarantees that you’re creating the cocktail in the way it was meant to be and an over or under pour of a single ingredient can throw off the delicate balance of a drink. Also, if you’re drinking and mixing, chances are, your perception of measuring can be thrown off.
10. Match Drink and Glass Temperature
This seems like a simple, possibly unnecessary, step to mixing drinks but it makes a world of difference. When you’re serving cold drinks, chilling the glass before pouring will keep the drink colder longer and the experience of drinking is better from start to finish. Place a glass in the freezer for a minute or alternatively, pour cold water or ice in the glass while you shaking the mixture, then dump it out before the pour.
The same theory applies to warm drinks, if you’re making a Hot Toddy, warm up the glass beforehand by pouring some hot water inside while you’re preparing the ingredients. Nothing ruins a cocktail more than getting to the bottom of a drink with the incorrect temperature.
Here at Marina Club, we believe that sipping on a well concocted cocktail is pure bliss. So come visit us at our restaurant to sample one of our delicious cocktails. Whether you’d like to unwind after a day’s work with your colleagues, or simply want to spend some quality time with your loved ones, come on over to our restaurant located at the Valletta Waterfront, we’ll surely whip up a cocktail that’ll leave your taste buds tingling!