Do you know the basics for creating your own cocktail? The secrets to a full flavored, yet miraculously balanced mixture of liquids? The tricks to infusing lots and lots of flavor in a small amount of liquid?
Well, I didn't. Until Sunday. I was invited to join a fellow foodie and blogger for an event sponsored by Food & Wine and Travel + Leisure magazines in Greenwich, CT. One of the many sessions we went to was run by renowned mixologist Michael Green. Yes, he knows a lot about cocktails and mixology. AND he's hilarious. Especially when he caught my icky facial expression when I tasted the store-bought coconut water. I guess I've been spoiled by the fresh stuff from young coconuts (yes, I wield a chefs knife by profession. And I can hack the top off of those little buggers like it's nothing).
As it was 10 in the morning, alcohol wasn't quite on the menu yet. So we made a Coco Tonic, with coconut water, basil simple syrup, lime juice, and pomegranate juice. Pretty tasty stuff. What was tastier though were the take home tips I got:
1. Every drink needs to have a balance of sweet, savory and sour.
2. Every drink has a base spirit. Flavors are then enhanced with a combination of flavor modifiers (like simple syrups) and fresh juices.
3. Every bar should have a jigger. Nothing is worse than a too-strong (or too-weak) cocktail.
4. There is a right size for ice cubes. The bigger they are, the slower they melt, and your drink becomes perfectly lengthened over time
5. Modifiers are the key to making a so-so cocktail an over-the-top cocktail. My new favorite trick? Homemade simple syrups.
6. There is a right way to stir a cocktail with a cocktail spoon. Twirl the spoon clockwise and counter-clockwise, while also moving the spoon up and down. It ensures your striated cocktail will be striated no more.
7. Lastly, there is a right way to shake. 10-15 shakes properly lengthens the drink and chills the ingredients. Don't have a shaker? Seek out a Boston Shaker (I will be!).
Homemade Simple Syrup:
1 cup fresh herbs (basil, thyme, rosemary, cranberries, ginger, orange, lemon...the list goes on)
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
Mix all ingredients together in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil. Remove from heat and let cool. Strain out herbs.