How To Make Classy Cocktails At Home
At a certain point in your life, you will transition from dining out to entertaining at home. When you do, you will want to throw a dinner party that leaves guests looking forward to your next invitation. Experiences begin with first impressions and in this case, that means the welcome cocktails.
When it comes to playing bartender, most hosts tend to veer towards the conventional spread of wine, beer an odd spirit or two and the obligatory mixers. Cocktails are usually dismissed as too elaborate or intimidating. But that is only if you are a stranger to the basics. So where do you start?
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Simon Hall, cocktail aficionado and proprietor of Easy Tiger in Collingwood, Melbourne is fairly certain that your liquor cupboard already holds keys to cocktail creations in the bottles that have been tucked away for years.
“Perhaps you have a Malibu or an old sherry, which are versatile and can be used in many different ways,” he said. “The same goes for clear spirits like vodka and gin. In terms of dark spirits, bourbon and rum are the easiest to make drinks with. You probably also have a bottle of Campari or Martini Rosso, and that is a cocktail right there.”
Rather than serve cocktails in their designated glasses, Simon suggested bucking the trend by repurposing what you have at hand to bring an element of elegance and interest to the table. For instance, he does not think twice about serving a cocktail in a china teapot.
“Or I might pour the cocktail into a wine glass or a hand-blown tumbler. Ceramic and fine bone china are also beautiful serving pieces. As long as there is quality in the glassware, it will work perfectly.”
You can always reach for the reliable mint leaves and lemon wedges but Simon would rather you choose a garnish that ties in to your dinner party theme. Using rosemary for a lamb dish? Put some sprigs aside for your cocktails. According to Simon, rosemary and grapefruit are a brilliant combination.
“It is about being creative and composing the cocktails,” he explained. “And go with seasonal produce. I also spend a lot of time in Asian grocers, getting to know unfamiliar ingredients.”
“One that I use regularly is yuzu, a Japanese citrus that is a cross between a tangerine and a lemon. I use that instead of lemon juice for its amazing flavour. The umeboshi (Japanese salt plum) is another favourite. These are what make me very excited about creating cocktails!”
Quick fire Cocktail-Making Tips:
#1: Only stir cocktails that contain just spirits to get that crystal clear look.
#2: Shake cocktails that contain citrus, dairy, egg or cream liqueurs to properly emulsify the non-alcoholic ingredients.
#3: Lightly push down and twist on your garnishing. Too much force will release bitter chemicals into the cocktail.
#4: Lemon and lime juices taste best after being left to sit for four hours. Orange juice however should be freshly squeezed.
#5: Substitute syrup with sugar and lime juice.
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