If you like the idea of throwing a cocktail party or just mixing up something shaken not stirred for yourself, this guide shows you the steps involved in making simple cocktails and includes recipes for the classics such as Martinis, Daiquiris, Margaritas, White Russians and Bloody Marys.
There are two main types of cocktails: those that are aromatic and those that are sour. And the difference is that aromatic cocktails use bitters, vermouth or spirits as modifiers while sour cocktails use fruit juices as modifiers. If you remember this plus these few basic rules, then you can easily make great tasting cocktails that your friends and party guests will love;
- Citrus juice tastes better with age – if you have time, leave your freshly squeezed lemon and lime juice in the fridge for around four hours before using.
- James Bond was wrong – alcohol-driven cocktails (i.e. Martinis) need to be stirred, not shaken, as this is the only way to maintain their clarity and texture. Sweet cocktails on the other hand (i.e. those containing fruit juice or egg whites) can be shaken because clarity is not such an issue.
- Start with the classics – all of the modern cocktails are indebted to the classics, so when learning to make cocktails, start with the tried and true originals and when you have mastered them, then move on to experimenting with more complex creations,
- Alcohol is the star of the show – a cocktail is an alcoholic drink, with all the other bits and pieces merely added to enhance its flavour. So get the alcohol part right above all else, as you can always make it sweeter or sourer, but you can’t un-sweeten or un-sour it.
- Ice is a vital ingredient – crushed ice is an important part of cocktail making, so make sure you have plenty on hand if you’re throwing a cocktail party. And never skimp on ice in a cocktail, as using too little will cause it to melt faster, making the mixture over-diluted.
- Keep it simple – a cocktail doesn’t need numerous ingredients to taste great. The best cocktails contain two or three simple ingredients which are harmoniously blended to be neither too sweet nor too sour.
- Make it look nice – cocktail making is a ritual, so take a little care with the presentation as well as the recipe. Use a frosted glass and finish with a lemon or lime twist or garnish with an olive or celery stalk, depending on the drink you are making.
Classic cocktail recipes
So now that you’re familiar with the basics, it’s time to hit the cocktail cabinet and try your hand at a few simple recipes. And those described here are not only easy to make but have stood the test of time as favourites around the world.
- Ingredients – 2½ ounces light rum, ¾ ounce lime juice, ½ ounce 2:1 simple syrup (use twice this if blending)
- Method – shake (or blend) with ice until chilled. Serve in a frozen stemmed glass garnished with a slice of fresh lime.
- Ingredients – 50ml white rum, 1 dash soda water, 2 tsp caster sugar, 2 lime wedges, mint sprig.
- Method – muddle sugar, lime wedges and mint leaves in a glass, add ice, white rum and soda, stir with a spoon and top with crushed ice and a garnish of mint.
- Ingredients – 50ml tequila, 35ml orange liqueur, 25ml lime juice.
- Method – fill a shaker with ice, add orange liqueur, tequila and lime juice, shake until chilled, strain into a short glass.
Long Island Iced Tea
- Ingredients – 17.5ml each of rum, vodka, dry gin, tequila, orange liqueur, sugar syrup, lemon juice and lime juice plus 1 top of Cola, 1 slice of lemon.
- Method – fill a shaker with ice, add rum, vodka, gin, orange liqueur, tequila, sugar syrup, lemon juice and lime juice, shake until chilled, strain into a glass filled with ice, top up with Cola and garnish with a lemon slice.
Gin and Tonic
- Ingredients – 25ml dry gin, 125ml tonic water, 10ml lime juice, 2 wedges lime.
- Method – fill a glass with ice, add gin, tonic water and lime juice, garnish with lime wedges.
- Ingredients – 50ml vodka, 25ml Baileys Irish Cream liqueur, 50ml cream, 1 sprinkle chocolate shavings.
- Method – fill a shaker with ice, add vodka and Baileys, shake until chilled, pour into a glass, garnish with cream and a sprinkle of chocolate shavings.
- Ingredients – 50ml dry gin, 5ml dry vermouth, 1 olive.
- Method – fill a shaker with ice, add gin and dry vermouth, stir until chilled (or shake if you’re James Bond), strain into a martini glass and garnish with an olive.
- Ingredients – 50ml vodka, 100ml tomato juice, 1 squeeze lemon, 4 dashes Tabasco sauce, 4 dashes Worcestershire sauce, 2 grinds pepper, 1 celery stalk, 2 lemon wedges.
- Method – fill a glass with ice, add vodka and tomato juice, a squeeze of lemon, dashes of Tabasco and Worcestershire sauce and black pepper, stir thoroughly and garnish with a celery stalk.
Next time you drop in for a drink, be sure to ask the bartender for your favourite cocktail at the Coolangatta Hotel, the home of live music on the Gold Coast.