Crafting Better, Smarter, Stronger, Beverage Professionals
Bartending vs. Mixology
Mixology has become a more common used term in recent years and is generally accepted to be a refined, higher study of mixing cocktails and drinks than the everyday actions of bartender. This definition and it's use is one of much debate in the bartending community, usually because of the impression it leaves that a mixologist is better and more skilled than a bartender. This isn't necessarily so. Neither is "better" than the other and each require a different set of skills, but then again the two titles can be interchanged.
If you shake clear ingredients then you often end up with a cloudy looking drink so you can also keep this in mind when deciding which mix method to use. A stirred Martini will look clear and refreshing when placed next to its cloudy, shaken counterpart.
Cloudy ingredients usually need more aggressive mixing and this can actually improve the appearance of the cocktail with some ingredients – things like pineapple juice, coffee, eggs or crème can create foams and layers when shaken that can really add to the overall appearance of the drink.
Dilution is the amount of water that is in your cocktail as a result of ice melting. Many people seem to think that water is the enemy of cocktails but it is actually an important ingredient in itself as it can help soften the flavour of the alcohol and allow background flavours to be more apparent.
Crushed ice will dilute more than large ice cubes so keep this in mind when you are making your cocktails – this is why we use large ice cubes when we stir or shake. More ice=a colder drink=slower melting, which is why we always try to fill our glasses with ice when we are making drinks; we are trying to minimise unnecessary dilution.
Also, when we shake the ice - it will chip into small pieces that will dilute the cocktail more – if you straining into a cocktail glass after a hard shake then you can use a tea strainer (fine strainer) to catch these little ice shards and at the same time make the cocktail look a cleaner.
Taste and Mouthfeel
Finally, the mixing method you select can also play a part in the texture or mouth feel – how the drink actually feels in your mouth; light, heavy, creamy, oily etc.
Just like whisking an egg, heavier ingredients, juices, crèmes and similar will often fluff up and become soft and foamy in texture when they have been shaken. In fact many cocktails will actually use egg whites shaken hard for exactly this reason.
Example – A French Martini (Chambord liqueur, vodka and pineapple juice) stirred will feel a bit dull and watery but if it is shaken hard then the pineapple juice will expand and foam giving the cocktail a much more appealing texture when you taste it.
Tips and Tricks
BEER, WINE AND CHAMPAGNE COCKTAILS
Naturally, when mixing carbonated cocktails, you will always have the battle of dealing with foam. When pouring champagne cocktails, in order to reduce the amount of bubbles, let the champagne roll down the side of the glass. This will ease the problem with foam but the cocktail will have to be mixed naturally with the carbonation. However, you can always use a stir stick.
Cream drinks are typically reserved for after dinner drinks rather than an aperitif. Remember, when mixing creamed cocktails always pour the cream first then the liqueur to reassure your cocktail is mixed properly.
Exotic drinks can be prepared in several ways. Exotic drinks are usually blended however; several people prefer them on the rocks. Now, people have begun ordering them as martini’s so please ask, how they would like them prepared.
This type of cocktail is basically a liquor of some sort that is mixed with fruit and or vegetable juice.
Highball refers to a category of cocktails that are mixed with a non-alcoholic liquid. These drinks are typically your basic two-part drink. The guest will request liquor with a soft drink or water.
Three questions should be asked when preparing a margarita. 1) On the rocks, frozen or up? 2) Salt or no salt? 3) What type of Margarita; Cointreau, Grand Mariner or Triple Sec? What type of Tequila? These questions are getting more and more important because everyone has a different idea of a margarita.
When pouring clear liquors, the best suggestion is to stir the cocktail instead of shaking it. By stirring clear liquors this offers a creamier, more textured cocktail. Nevertheless, if asked for a martini three questions need to be asked; 1) Gin or Vodka, 2) Shaken or stirred, 3) Olive or onion.
When mixing a martini with juices or cream shaking the drink offers the best result. By shaking the drink serves two purposes; 1) dilutes the additional ingredients, and 2) mixes the ingredients more thoroughly.
TWO LIQUOR DRINKS
When pouring two liquor drinks make sure the lighter liquor is poured first. If a liqueur is involved, pour the liqueur last. In most cases, the guest will prefer that the drink is not stirred.
The Construction of a Cocktail
The simplest of all cocktails can be a work of art, if done properly. There are several techniques to mix a cocktail; building, stirring, shaking, layering, and blending. There are some extra techniques that may be needed in order to mix a certain cocktail. These extra techniques would be flaming, and muddling. However, the most important ingredient of Mixology is the presentation of the cocktail.
The six main mixing methods Mixologists use: