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Tom Hodgkiss - Take Stock Magazine

The Mixologist Recommends

Demand for cocktails shows no sign of abating; meaning that skilful cocktail making – or the art of mixology to give it its proper name – is an essential skill for bar staff everywhere. To help spread the knowledge, in every edition of Take Stock we ask a top mixologist for tips and a couple of recipes too. In this edition we’ve spoken to Tom Hodgkiss, from Hi-Spirits to tell us how to make impressive, special effect cocktails for an event such as Halloween and recipes perfect for the occasion…

Make it theatrical!

When I’m creating special cocktails for a themed menu or a specific event, I look at how to bring a bit of theatre into the serve. Not only does it make it fun, but it adds value to the customer experience. In these days of social media, when there’s a bit of spectacle involved, people are more likely to photograph or film the drink – so great free PR and advertising for your business!

Don’t make it complicated

There are many different techniques that you can use to successfully achieve theatre in your venue. It could be something as simple as the noise of the tin when shaking a cocktail which will turn heads at the bar, or the use of simple chemistry such as a change or separation of coloured liquids. Even simpler than that, a bespoke vessel and a different garnish can really make a drink shine. You’re getting a great effect, whilst still serving simple, great tasting drinks that people know and love.

Get the balance right

When creating cocktails, make sure the liquid is balanced, not too sour or too sweet. Make sure it looks good, as people buy with their eyes. Be creative with the names and ingredients used. They don’t have to be difficult to make. Some of the most popular drinks are the simplest to make. Make the drinks for a mixed group of people to ensure the drink tastes good. Get their honest feedback and perfect the recipe to ensure it’s going to sell.

Change the name

Another way to add theatre is to simply change the name of the drink. For example, a simple rum and coke can be renamed ‘The Black Magic Cauldron’ perfect for Halloween celebrations. All you have to do is ditch the standard glass for a witch’s cauldron mule vessel, garnish with lychee segments to resemble eyeballs and drizzle with grenadine to look like blood and suddenly a rum and coke has become a Halloween serve that people will buy into!

Deliver with minimal effort

Dry ice is a fantastic way of delivering a great looking drink with minimal effort. A solid form of carbon dioxide when mixed with liquid produces a cold, dense mist, which is perfect for a spooky, ghostly Halloween effect. Dry ice sticks that you can keep in the freezer and drop into a drink with a straw as and when you need them are a great idea as it reacts with the drink and produces the desired mist. Taking this even further, you can keep the drink clear, then use different food colouring to make different potion like drinks! Use your imagination by serving the drinks in various random vessels such as pots, test tubes, measuring beakers etc, as if they’re bizarre experiments! However, make sure you adhere to the safety guidelines when using, as if used incorrectly, dry ice can be extremely dangerous. Do your research before using or contact a specialist company such as to distribute dry ice safely.

Here are Tom’s two favourite cocktails to help spook up your profits this Halloween… Southern PotionBlack Magic Cauldron

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