Wondering how to mix a perfect cocktail? Know it from the experts | The Financial Express

Wondering how to mix a perfect cocktail? Know it from the experts

While mixing a cocktail is not rocket science but one must follow some basic rules to be successful – precision, quality, and attention to detail.

Cocktail, best cocktail, Cocktail mixing
The most important ingredient of your cocktail is the base alcohol.

So it’s booze o’clock, and we understand that you need a drink, but if you’re new to the mixing world and not quite sure how to get started. You’ve come to the right place. To explain it better, we got in touch with Zaheen Khatri, Trade Advocate, Grant’s India and Gaurav Sareen, Brand Ambassador, Monkey Shoulder India, to simplify things for you.

While mixing a cocktail is not rocket science but one must follow some basic rules to be successful – precision, quality, and attention to detail. “From the alcohol, the mixers, down to the garnishes and even the ice, the best mixologists in the world understand that every ingredient has to be of the utmost quality and freshness because it leads to certain things what a consumer expects: to taste better, look better and to keep it healthier,” Sareen tells us. 

Khatri further explains, “The most important ingredient of your cocktail is the base alcohol. It is a common misconception that a cocktail should be a liquid pudding or a dessert in a glass. A proper cocktail should not mask the spirit, rather it should celebrate it.”

If you are a mixologist, or on your way to becoming one, quality ingredients are a must. When you have the right liquor, bitters, tinctures, spices and garnishes, you will be able to exponentially increase your creative cocktail possibilities.

Sareen explains, “There is a lot that goes into making the perfect cocktail. After all, that is why they are called “craft cocktails,” a craft that is practiced and perfected over time. Here is my golden ratio of 2:1:1, which is 2 parts spirit, 1 part sweet and 1 part sour.”

“First, you will begin with 2 parts of your spirit of choice: vodka, gin, whisky. Secondly, add that to a mixing tin with ice. Measure out 1 part of a sweet ingredient: simple syrup, vermouth, triple sec, etc. and add that to your mixture. Finally, measure out 1 part of something sour: lime juice, lemon juice, or sour mix, and pour into your tin. Ice is also an especially important part of this ratio. You may think ice is solely used to chill your cocktail or slowly water it down but iced down cocktails can be quite controversial. As the ice melts and dilutes your beverage, it affects the flavor profile of your craft cocktail. But in case you do plan to add a considerable amount of ice, how about adding one that gives your cocktails a ‘cooler’ look,” he adds.

Dos and Don’ts of Creating A Cocktail by Sareen

  • Do follow a recipe and measure everything; use a peg measurer! A great cocktail is about being precise and you will never do that without measuring
  • Do use quality ingredients. It probably goes without saying but the quality of your ingredients will directly impact the quality of your cocktail
  • Do make your simple syrup at home using equal parts water and sugar. Sugar in the Raw or Demerara sugar (our sugar of choice) will offer a richer, deeper flavor over white granulated sugar
  • Do pour the least expensive ingredients in the mixing vessel first, in case you over pour or make a mistake
  • Do not use cheap store-bought or frozen juices, which could be full of preservatives and other chemicals. Freshly squeezed is always best, or use cold pressed juice with natural ingredients
  • Do not leave vermouth on your bar! Vermouth can—and will—go bad. It needs to be kept in the refrigerator

Barware Requirements

Jigger: Using a jigger ensures that no matter who makes your cocktail, it is the same every time

Citrus Press: The best cocktails are the ones with fresh ingredients

Muddler: It helps extract the finest flavors and gives us all the pleasure of experiencing the cocktail in so many ways

Shaker: An inexpensive item needed for making shaken cocktails

Mixing Glass: For all your stirred drinks like martinis and negronis

Bar Spoon: Helping you to stir while fine straining something into another container and allows you to taste every drink you are mixing before shaking

Hawthorne Strainer: For your shaken cocktails. It is designed to fit snuggly over a shaker tin and works best in conjunction with a fine mesh strainer

Peeler: For making standard as well as creative garnishes

Khatri feels that ice serves a dual purpose in cocktails. She says, “Chilling the drink as well as providing dilution. Use insufficient ice and you end up with insufficient chilling and a lot of dilution. Whenever in doubt as to how much ice is required, the answer is always ‘more’.” She further talks about why you should keep fruits, spices and herbs away from alcohol. “Keep away from the store-bought stuff. Why would one want xanthan gum and preservatives in their cocktails? Use the ingredients that you are familiar with, think of your cocktail as daal or scrambled eggs; something you make every other day and perfect over time rather than a lobster thermidor that you would make once and still would not know if you got it right.”

Balance is key when you are crafting a tasty cocktail. It should not only be balanced on the first sip but balanced on the last as well. The cocktails can be generalized in these categories:

Aromatic Cocktails: These are spirit forward and always stirred like your old-fashioned. As a rule of thumb, an aromatic cocktail contains 50 ml of your spirit, 15 ml of sugar and a dash of bitters or spices stirred with ice to result in even dilution and a smoother texture.

Sours: These are often tangy, fruity and occasionally creamy and require shaking, which results in more amalgamation, more dilution and a slightly altered texture. The golden rule for a sour is 2:1:1 – 2 parts spirit to 1 part sweet and 1 part sour.

Long Drinks: The above two can be diluted with water, soda, tonic, tea to form this third category.

Dos & Don’ts of Creating A Cocktail by Khatri

  • Do Stick to the Basics: Start with the basics as there is a reason they have been loved for decades and then put your spin on it
  • Do Experiment: Start experimenting and working with your pantry staples or the ingredients you are familiar with
  • Do Keep it Simple: You do not need an array of fruits or obscure liqueurs, do not use more than 3 ingredients in a drink
  • Do Aim for Balance: Your cocktail should be a harmonious blend of flavours, neither sweetness nor sourness nor bitterness should over power
  • Do Make It Look Nice: Always garnish your drink, a lime zest here or a mint sprig there but do not be obsessive over it

Go-to Cocktail Recipes

Adam’s Apple

60 ml Grant’s Triple Wood

22.5 ml Green Apple Syrup

15 ml Fresh Lemon Juice

2 sprigs of thyme

Soda to top

Directions: Pour in a shaker, muddle thyme a little and shake over ice. Strain into a high ball glass with ice and top up with soda. Garnish with a thyme twig and dehydrated apple

Red Smoke

60 ml Grant’s Triple Wood

30 ml Pomegranate grenadine

15 ml Lemon Juice 

5-6 curry leaves slightly torched

Directions: Pour in shaker, shake over ice. Strain in a glass with ice, garnish with curry leave sprig

Ginger Monkey 

A crowd pleasing favourite, there is no more perfect pairing than Monkey Shoulder whisky, ginger ale and orange. The easiest of drinks to make, tastes like…OMG! (Orange/Monkey/Ginger)

50 ml Monkey Shoulder

150 ml ginger ale

2 dashes of angostura bitters

Orange slice

Monkey Jam Sour

We love a classic whisky sour, but we had to give it that Monkey Shoulder spin. Ours is without the egg white making it a crowd pleaser for all dietary requirements. Tastes like whisky and donuts with fewer calories

50 ml Monkey Shoulder

20 ml fresh lemon juice

5 ml sugar syrup

2 tsp jam

Dash of orange bitters 

Monkey Boulevardier 

Meet your new favourite whisky cocktail The Boulevardier, a negroni with attitude! Tastes like a whisky and Campari punch to ver-mouth

45 ml Monkey Shoulder

30 ml sweet vermouth

30 ml Campari

Orange zest

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First published on: 13-11-2022 at 11:00 IST