Cocktails are pretty popular, especially in the summertime. They are refreshing, and you can enjoy an endless pallet of flavours by combining alcoholic beverages and juices. But making a cocktail is not just mixing a couple of drinks. On the one hand, they’re an art form that transforms drinks as we know them into something exciting, flavorful and colourful. And on the other, a combination of science and chemistry that teaches us how to mix and match liquor.
Bartenders and mixologists need to have good techniques to create a good drink. They develop these techniques in time, with much practice and determination.
This might sound simple, but the right timing and force you use are crucial. The main thing is to know how much and how long you need to stir every cocktail you make. For example, stirring plays a significant role in making the classic Martinez cocktail. Fill the glass by combining gin, vermouth, orange bitters and maraschino liqueur in a chilled shaker. Then comes the stirring part. By pressing the back of the spoon on the walls of the glass, stir for about 10 seconds, and rotate it on the way. This will give it a quick stir that won’t create air bubbles. Drain the drink and add a classic gin botanical to spice up the cocktail.
This technique is easy to mess up and overdo if you don’t be careful. Bartenders use this to chill the cocktail and aerate it. It’s just pouring the drink from one glass into another, where the first one is filled with ice and the second one has all of the ingredients inside. In between, there is a strainer that catches all of the herbs and fruits. The best example of this is the Bloody Mary cocktail with its thick tomato juice, where rolling helps the liquid thin out and make it ready to consume.
Bartenders call this the experimenting technique. It allows for some mistakes and overshaking, but not too much. Make the drink, add the ice, close the lid and start shaking. Different mixologists have different techniques, but most do the over-the-shoulder shake. One of the most common examples of this technique is the Châtelaine, with white wine, gin and pomegranate juice. Combine the ingredients, add ice, shake well and add gin garnishes to make it pretty.
Whip or Dry Shake
Bartenders use dry shaking or whips to combine ingredients with different textures. A dry shake includes all of the ingredients except for the ice. Shake once, add the ice and shake again. The Whip technique that consists of an egg white, like in the Gin Fizz cocktail, includes adding all of the ingredients to the ice without the egg white, shaking, straining to remove the ice, adding the egg white and then shaking again. This technique also works well for cocktails over crushed ice, like the Mai Tai.
Essential Equipment for Every Mixologist
Having the basic equipment is the first step in creating a cocktail. Just as the artists need canvas, paint and brushes, mixologists need their shakers, strainers and glasses. Even if all of those tools they have look like some kind of laboratory equipment, you don’t need a PhD to make a delicious cocktail for you and your friends.
Being precise with the measurement is one of the basic things for a successful cocktail. Pouring the right amount of liquor will define the flavour; that’s why it is important to have a jigger. A jigger is a small metal cup that can measure liquids on both ends. A bigger, 30ml cup is on one side, and a smaller 15ml one is on the other. The most common shape is a cone, tall and small. But there are many options for shape and colour if you want to add a nice touch and a new vibe to the equipment.
Shakers are easily the most fun tool in the bunch. There are 3 types of shakers. First, the cobbler is a traditional sleek design great for beginners. It consisted of a metal tin, cup and strainer. The cup is usually 30ml, so you don’t have to use a jigger. The second is the Boston shaker. It has two parts, a shaking metal tin and a mixing glass. This is for the more experienced bartenders that have a firmer grip. And third, the French shaker is stylish and simple to use, but without the strainer.
The strainer usually has a special spring attached. When you make your favourite gin cocktail, it makes sure that every herb and gorgeous gin botanical stays behind. Many bartenders use the double straining technique to even eliminate smaller pulp.
This spoon has a long spiral-shaped handle that makes stirring easier. You can use the spiral to create beautifully layered drinks that will wow anyone. It’s designed to fit every glassware because cocktails require different types of glasses.
This is the perfect tool to finish off the cocktail by creating interesting and beautiful decorations. The channel knife is small, spoon-shaped, and peels long and thin spirals from fruits. This decorating will take your bartending skills to a new level, and your guests will enjoy it with both their eyes and mouth.
No cocktail is complete without garnishes that ensure it’s as pretty as a picture. You can use whiskey twists, gin botanicals, tequila fruits or vodka leaves to garnish your cocktail. Garnishing doesn’t mean you have to make fruit sculptures or put a whole garden of leaves. A simple orange or lemon wedge is sometimes all it takes. It will add some colour and zest at the same time. Another quick way to garnish the cocktail is decorating the glass rim with sugar.
You can add fruit skewers with strawberries, blueberries, raspberries, mint, thyme, and basil. Dehydrated fruits shorten the preparation time and save you money. They also give the cocktail a classic and rustic look. Citrus boats and cucumber waves are also popular and fun for the eye. If you want to be fancy, you can do iced fruits, flowers and herbs that look gorgeous in a glass.
Bartending and mixology are very fun and exciting. They’re constantly changing and upgrading. People come out with new combinations and ideas about flavours and garnishes. So, if you decide to take up this trade, don’t be scared to create something of your own and experiment a lot. It may turn out to be the most famous cocktail in the world.