The Mixologist Recommends
Venues of every type have caught on to the fact that demand for cocktails has never been higher. Fashionable and fun, they’re a great profit opportunity too.In every edition of Take Stock we ask a top mixologist for tips of the trade. In this edition we’ve spoken to Callum Whitehead from LiquidChefs to help you shake up your festive cocktail menu…
Get your mixer right
The key to choosing the correct mixer is firstly knowing the base spirit you’re using. You could have the most delectable spirit in the world and completely ruin the beautiful flavour by choosing an inappropriate pairing. Therefore, taste your spirit alone first, and depending what flavours you are detecting (is it dry, botanical, floral, spicy, or all of them) that will give you an initial clue as to what mixer style to go for.
So, for example, with dry gins, I find a lovely premium citrus-based tonic such as 1783 Crisp Tonic pairs wonderfully due to the enhancing notes of candied orange peel enticing the botanicals in the gin – in particular the flavour of juniper. For very floral or botanical spirits like Lanique Rose Petal Liqueur, or Malfy Con Arancia blood orange gin I’d use 1783 Light Tonic as an ideal mixer as the slight bitterness and citrus taste of grapefruit, along with the balancing agave syrup really enhance the drink.
Following the same rules, with something like tequila you’d go for a Salty Lemon Tonic; a light Scottish single malt would be enhanced by a top quality ginger ale and floral tonics enhance juniper-rich gins, flavoured vodkas and blanco tequilas. Finally, Schweppes new Muscovado has been specially designed to go brilliantly with dark spirits like rum and whiskies – where sales of both in the on trade are showing real growth.
Key senses to a festive cocktail
When creating a Christmas cocktail you want to hit three key senses – sight, smell, and taste. Think about what flavours, spices, dishes, colours, and beverages are consumed and used during this period and how these flavours can be translated into amazing cocktails. For example, the use of mulled wine, cinnamon, oranges, cloves, nutmeg, vanilla, gingerbread, and cranberries are key, for garnishes as well as flavours to combine in the cocktail. However, don’t go crazy. Simple things like freshly grated nutmeg over the top of a foamed cocktail ticks the sensory box, and a garnish of powdered sugar on the glass rim with an orange peel twist screams Christmas.
Premiumise your cocktails
The first rule is to use premium ingredients combined in a way to enhance the amazing flavours of the products you’ve decided on, and then use simple enhancements. For example, stud your lemon and lime wedges with cloves; add a teaspoon of honey to a Scotch and Canada Dry; add a splash of olive brine to a vodka and tonic for a more savoury and salty taste; transform a G&T by adding 3 dashes of bitters and 15ml of sweet vermouth. Also, fresh is best – think fresh fruit, fresh ice and unwaxed lemons – using fresh ingredients will result in the best flavours possible.