There is something truly satisfying about sitting down with a drink at the end of the day. It’s a good way to unwind with some friends. Most drink recipes are difficult to remember unless they are something extremely simple like screwdrivers or fuzzy navels. It’s possible to just memorize an obscure mixed drink so that you can show off your bartending skills when you’re out. Perhaps you can rely on someone else to know something. Better yet, you can invent a new mixed drink.
BASIC LIQUOR GROUPS
There are seven basic liquor groups to choose from as the primary source for the mixed drink you are inventing. They are brandy, gin, scotch, tequila, vodka, rum and whisky. These are generally known as spirits and are the basis of many drinks.
There are other liquors that can be used too and can also be used as the basic start to a new drink. Liqueurs such as schnapps are flavored fruit, herbs, nuts, spices, flowers or cream and are bottled with added sugar. It is in this area where classic drinks like a fuzzy navel are created since peach schnapps is the main ingredient in that drink.
The first step on the way to your new cocktail is to pick one or two liquors from these groups.
The next step on the way to your new drink is to pick a mixer to go with your liquor. Mixers are usually found in juices, colas, club soda, coffee, tonic water, energy drinks and sugar syrups like grenadine. Dairy products like cream, half and half and ice cream can be used too. The type of mixer that you choose will greatly affect how the drink tastes. For example, the taste of coffee is very different from the taste of grapefruit juice. To give the drink an added kick of flavor, try honey, tobacco sauce or Worcestershire sauce. The best option here is to choose three to four mixers to go with and then try a variety of combinations to see what works best for you.
The next choice will be to pick a garnish. Garnishes are used to decorate a mixed drink, but they generally don’t add much overall to the flavor. They are often edible and their general added purpose is to the drink’s presentation. Typical garnishes are pineapple spears, maraschino cherries and mint leaves. Wedges of lemons, limes and oranges can be placed on the side of the glass. Vegetables like celery stalks, cucumber peels and carrots are also popularly used. In fact, just about any fruit or vegetable can be used to garnish a mixed drink.
Other spices can then be added such as cinnamon, nutmeg, salt and powdered or granulated sugar. Add chocolate shavings or whipped cream to make it seem more like a dessert.
WHAT TO PUT IT IN
There are several types of glasses to choose from to put this drink together. The cocktail glass has a cone shaped bowl sitting on a stem over a flat base. The cone shape allows the drinker to hold the glass in such a way as to not affect the temperature. Plus the wide shape allows the drinker to take in the aroma of the drink since true cocktails have an aromatic part to them.
A highball glass is a large tumbler. It is generally used for mixed drinks that hold a high proportion of mixer to liquor. This glass holds 8-12 ounces. A cocktail glass holds 4.5 ounces by comparison. Similar in shape to the highball glass is the Collins glass. It is generally narrower and taller and holds 10-14 ounces. The old fashioned glass is a short tumbler with a wider mouth than either the highball or Collins glass. It usually holds 6 to 10 ounces.
These are the most common glasses, but there are others. The hurricane glass is typically used for drinks that are frozen or exotic and the margarita-coupette glass is used mostly for margaritas and daiquiris.
PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER
There is a general order to follow when mixing the drink. Fill the glass with ice, pour the liquor first, mixer second and garnish last. Keep the mix to about a 1 to 1 ratio between the basic liquor and the mix. Add any more mix to taste.
There is debate on whether mixed drinks should be shaken or stirred. Generally, mixed drinks should be shaken when they include fruit juices, cream liqueurs or any other think or flavorful mixers. Stirring is used for hard liquor. It is a gentler technique to mix the drink that allows the alcohol to dilute, but doesn’t “bruise” it.
Putting together a good tasting drink will take several tries. Many combinations of drinks have already been experimented with and many people already have drink recipes for the drinks that you might come up with. If that happens, then you can just alter the drink you made slightly either adding another mixer or a garnish to it to make the drink uniquely yours.
The last thing that your mixed drink needs is a name. Drink names can range from classy like Mint Julep to the recent trend of shocking names like Screaming Orgasm. Some have names like Tom Collins so you can always name it after yourself.
So the next time your friends are over and you want to have a drink just invent one. If you keep an open mind and try several combinations, eventually you’ll find something that you like. Even if you don’t, you’ll have fun trying.