It has been said that there really are only two seasons in Canada, Winter and Patio season and with Patio season comes outdoor entertaining with great friends, fabulous food and of course the reason why you all are reading this article, orgasmic cocktails! But, before you start pouring liquids over ice and listening to the cha-cha-cha of your favorite shaker there are a few other points that the seasoned home entertainer will consider before lifting liquids to lips.
When making cocktails always try to use the freshest ingredients possible. For example, mojitos are a very popular cocktail for patio season and whether you are using Rum, Cachaca or Vodka and whether you are using a traditional lime, sugar and mint base or a strawberry, maple syrup and basil base you need to consider the ingredients and the process.
The ingredients that you chose should always be tasted first before mixing. The last time you were cooking did you snack a little off the prep bowls or do a little finger licking taste of your sauce? Of course you did, and making your cocktails should be no different. When using fresh fruit always taste it first and consider the sweetness and density of it. From your initial taste you will be able to calculate if you need a little more sugar or if you can go a little easier or harder on the muddling of the fruit. These are fine details that can make or break a great fresh fruit cocktail
Add texture to the liquid by placing fresh fruit into your shaker when making cocktails like cosmos or other fruity martinis. By shaking a little harder and adding a little more ice than normal you will be pulverizing the fruit separating the jewels of pulp from the pith which will add texture to your cocktails as well as some amazing visual appeal. I never make a cosmo without adding one lime wedge and one orange wedge to decorate the meniscus with some bejewlled pulp and flavor. This also works for making the best dirty martini you have ever had. Place 8 olives in your shaker with your liquids and omit the brine. Shake like crazy and you will be amazed at how much better it will taste. After all who wants to kill the flavour of good vodka with oil and salt. Dirty martini with Olive juice from the Olive only please! Don’t rush the process. A great cook once said that no dish will be served before its time and I always say no cocktail should be poured before its time either. The process for every cocktail is incredibly important because it is the process that allows you to capture the full experience for all of your senses. When muddling a cocktail always perform the action in the glass that you are serving the drink in. When pressed the fruit will spurt its essential oils across the surface of the glass which is what intensifies the nose and flavour of your cocktail since, your nose sets up your palate. If you muddle your ingredients in a bowl and then transfer the mixture into your glass you are losing a considerable amount of the sensorial material that makes the difference between a good cocktail and a great cocktail.
Taste! There is no shame in tasting your cocktails before serving them especially if you are making them up in batches and doubling ingredients. Many flavours build exponentially rather than arithmetically so it is incredibly important to taste to ensure proper balance. Many nut based liqueurs build exponentially so if you are making a pitcher of crispy crunch martinis beware and taste to balance out all the flavours.
Pitchers are an entertainer’s best friend and I love them because you have to taste them while mixing which also takes the edge off before company comes or perhaps the fuzziness from your head from fun the night before. When using pitchers for batched cocktails I will often make ice cubes from the non-alcoholic ingredients so that the drinks stay cold but do not dilute ( mind you, not many of my cocktails sit around for too long but just in case the ice cubes from mix are a great idea). Also if the recipe uses citrus fruit add a few slices to keep it tasting fresh. For those of you who make your own salad dressings adding a little citric acid to it before serving always makes it taste like you just whipped it up so don’t skip the citrus kick on your cocktails.
This summer check out those tips and I will guarantee they will make your cocktails tops with your friends!