The Mixologist Recommends
In the quest to spread greater understanding of the art of cocktail making, in every edition of Take Stock we speak to a top mixologist for tips and cocktail recipes. In this edition, Rob Poulter from Diageo shares his secrets…
What are your tips for aspiring bartenders?
Get the basics right, and by basics I mean glassware, ice and garnish. Everything flows from that.
What are the rules for deciding what style of glass to use?
There are basic rules that dictate the style of glassware you should use, both for specific cocktails and also for certain categories of cocktail. 76% of consumers say that aside from taste, presentation is what makes a drink perfect (PMA spirits survey, January 2012) and using the right glassware for the right serve plays a really important role in that.
Most cocktail recipes will include a specific style of glass alongside the preparation instructions and ingredients and with a few exceptions the glassware will fall into one of a limited range of common styles. At a basic level, the volume of liquid in the cocktail and whether it’s served over ice or “straight up” (without ice) will give the first indication of what style of glass you should use.
When and why should you use ice?
Ice fulfills a few distinct rules in a cocktail; primarily it’s used to control temperature because most cocktails taste best when served chilled. It is also used to create dilution as it melts. This can either take place before the cocktail is served (in the shaker or mixing glass) – with the ice being removed when the correct level of dilution is achieved, or by serving ‘over ice’ to make the drink stay colder for longer, adding dilution over a period of time as the ice melts. The type of ice used will also have an effect; the wider surface area exposed by crushed ice will chill a drink more quickly but create more dilution in the process. For some drinks this is desirable, for example a Caipiroska cocktail, where the dilution created by crushed ice softens the intensity of the ingredients over time as the drink is consumed.
What’s the best garnish to use?
Garnish adds an aromatic element that contributes to flavour – think of the sprig of mint on a mojito or the orange zest on an old-fashioned and the scent they bring to the experience of drinking them. They add an extra flavour, for example a wedge of lemon on the rim of a Tom Collins allows the drinker to add extra citrus by squeezing it into the cocktail if they find it too sweet! They add a visual element to help complete the look.
What about garnishing the rim of a glass?
Salt is used as a flavour enhancer, and many bartenders are now using saline solution as a cocktail ingredient to subtly impact the taste and flavour of the cocktails they produce. When used on
the rim, for example with a margarita, salt is there for flavour. Salting half of the glass allows the drinker to choose whether or not they want that impact. It’s so important to use the highest quality salt available as this will add to the flavour complexity of the cocktail. Poor quality table salt will overpower other flavours and make it unpleasant.
Great bartenders and mixologists are getting more and more creative with their cocktails. The best are experimenting with different types of salt, flavoured sugars and things like dehydrated fruit powders on the rims of cocktail glasses. They are also borrowing techniques and ingredients from chefs that can add a visual as well as a flavour influence that enhances the experience of their cocktails.
For more information visit diageobaracademy.com
Correct glasses to use
• Highball, collins, sling – long cocktails served over ice
• Rocks, tumbler & old-fashioned – short cocktails served over ice
• Martini & coupe – cocktails served ‘straight up’ without ice
• Shot – to hold 25-50ml portion of liquid served without ice
• Flute – cocktails utilising sparkling wine among their ingredients
• Wine – spritz style cocktails using sparkling wine, but served over ice