Creating Cocktails at Home

Surely you have noticed the great number of new cocktails turning up on the menus of your favorites establishments. On one hand you have to admire the creatively but sadly, most of these cocktails are not very good. Further, many of these cocktails are simply a really bad move for the bar owner but this is another story.

Many of the new wave cocktails fall short because their creator has not aquatinted themselves with the classics. So, my first suggestion for the aspiring cocktail creator is to learn the classics inside and out and pay close attention to what makes them work.

When you examine classic cocktails you must first be struck by their simplicity.

Let’s look at the Margarita and the Sidecar. Both of these classics cocktails have just three ingredients. They both feature a base spirit – Brandy for the Sidecar and Tequila for the Margarita. To this base we add a balance of tart and sweet with citrus and sugar (liqueur). Presto! You have created a classic cocktail.


Comparing two Classic Cocktails


Think about lemonade. Most of us like lemonade and most of can tell you what makes a good lemonade – namely fresh ingredients – and why it works. It works because a big glass of freshly squeezed lemon juice would be pure torture as would a big glass of sugar water. But if you put the two together and you have balance and a tasty treat.

Quick Tips for Making Great Cocktails

  • The key is balance so knowing what is tart and what is sweet and what is a bit of both is a valuable tool.
  • Less is more – not always but most often so with cocktails. Each ingredient should bring a vital role to the mix.
  • There are many different citrus fruits all with their own properties. Try making your own citrus blend for cocktails and see how this changes your favorite drink.
  • Simple syrup doesn’t have to be so simple. Take the base simple syrup and steep spices, citrus zest, herbs, or whatever you desire in the base to make your simple not so simple.

In the end, build cocktails that you like with no apologies. We are all different. You may like things a bit sweet while I like them a bit tart. There really is no right or wrong. You are drinking for pleasure and the only goal that matters is maximizing this pleasure.

The same applies when you are out. When ordering drinks at the bar you too have control (or you should). Confidently ask the bartender to eliminate sugar additions or to add more sugar if you desire. Any good bartender will happily oblige. When you order a steak you ask for it to be done to your liking, a drink is no different.

More later…

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