Get the holiday mix right
I began getting into the Holidays spirits a little early this year by going to Jasper Park Lodge’s annual Christmas in November event. There I attended a session hosted by mixologist Micah Dew.
Providing a little flash, some intrigue and inciting a whole lot of giggling and laughing from his audience, Dew empowered his audience with cocktail tips to take home and host parties that they can brag about.
By shaking his booty, twirling, spinning and tossing bottles in the air, Dew rambunctiously demonstrated that there is more than one way get into the holiday spirits!
Dew began his session by describing the four elements of a cocktail: sweet, sour, weak and strong.
The sweet element is achieved using liqueurs and simple syrups while sour elements using lime or lemon.
Weak and strong refers to not the alcohol content but your preference of one dominating flavour over other.
“A good cocktail is simplicity in a glass,” Dew says. “Hit all four elements and you’ve got a good combination. Like a great food recipe, it’s all about a balance of flavours.”
So how do you create lip smacking out of this world cocktails? Is it the quality of spirits? According to Dew, great cocktail doesn’t mean using high priced spirits.
Though he does have his preferences, Dew suggests “using brands that are within your budget, brands that you are comfortable with and varieties already in your liquor cabinet.”
Instead, mind blowing cocktails are created by following four Mixology rules.
• Rule number one is using quality ingredients. “Whenever possible choose fresh ingredients instead of canned or bottled for your cocktails,” suggests Dew.
This primarily refers to fruit juices but can also be applied to other mixers such as using a soda siphon as opposed to buying bottled soda water or club soda and making your own simple syrups.
“With fruits the answer can be as simple as squeezing lemons, limes and oranges with a hand juicer or getting an electric juicer to make fresh fruit juice,” advises Dew. Bottled mixers could also have unwanted additives that would probably take away from the freshness of the cocktail.
• Dew’s second rule is to match glass temperature with the drink.
“It’s a simple thing but it makes a big difference to your guest,” explains Dew. “Using a chilled glass will keep your cocktails crisp and cool longer and adds aesthetics to the final presentation.”
The simplest way to achieve this is to chill your glass in the freezer. But since fridge and freezer space is prime during parties, a more convenient alternative is to simply fill glasses with ice while you are preparing the drink.
• Third rule to making professional cocktails is adding garnishes. According to Dew, garnishes in a cocktail serve two purposes: presentation and added flavour. “Martini without the olive or twist just looks unfinished and a gin and tonic doesn’t taste right without the lime,” explains Dew.
A garnish can make a drink much more attractive, appetizing and transform something ordinary into the extra ordinary. Some recipes call for the added flavour of a slice or twist of fruit, an olive or a dash of herbs
Garnishes could simply be citrus wedges, strips or zest, slices of pickled asparagus, crispy celery or cucumber and a sprig of leafy herb. Frosting the rim of the glass with salt, sugar, and cinnamon could also make great garnishes.
Finally, when making cocktails it is important to have fun. Besides providing a beverage for your guests, making cocktails should be entertaining. They are a chance for you to get creative and give your guests a fantastic experience for a cocktail party!
To get more advice from Dew, visit his site askmybartender.com.
The word “toast” meaning a wish of good health, started in ancient Rome, where a piece of toasted bread was dropped into wine.
The English pubs drinks are served in pints and quarts. In old England, bartenders would advise unruly customers to mind their own pints and quarts. It’s the origin of “mind your P’s and Q’s.”
The term cocktail may have originated from the story of Betsy Flanagan, an innkeeper during the Revolutionary War who mixed her own drinks. This barkeep stole chickens from her British neighbour and served them roasted to her clientele. After the sumptuous meal, she served her guests a special alcohol concoction in glasses decorated with the tail feathers of the unlucky fowl. One of her appreciative French customers happily declared, “Vive le cocktail!”
A more modern approach when garnishing with a lemon wedge is to remove the fruit from the wedge and make a slit in the rind. Before placing on glass rim, twist the rind over the drink, rim the ridge and drag the rind on the side of the glass. When one takes a sip, the oil and zest of lemon will not only be in the drink but the aroma will also cling to your hand and use your sense of smell to remind you of the drink.
Traditional Christmas drink is spiked with rum seasoned with nine spices
1 oz cruzen 9 rum
Fill with Eggnog
Build in glass that has a half cinnamon sugar rim and filled with ice. Stir and dust top with nutmeg.
Saint Nick Martini
1.0 oz Russian standard vodka
0.5 oz Bols blue
1 oz fresh squeezed lemon juice
Shake with ice and strain into martini glass. Add raspberry dusted with icing sugar for garnish.
Canadian Club Caesar
1 oz. Canadian Club reserve
Salt, pepper, Tabasco and Worcestershire sauce to taste. Fill with Clamato. Build in tall glass rimmed with celery salt and filled with ice.
Fire and Ice Mojito
1oz Hornitos Reposado
2-3 cubes of red pepper
2-3 lime wedges
2-3 basil leaves
1 teaspoon raw brown sugar
Muddle red pepper, lime, basil and sugar. Add Hornitos and top with ginger ale. Red pepper and lime wedge.
1 oz Canadian Club Sherry Cask
Fresh squeezed juice from half of a lemon
0.5 oz simple syrup
Splash of Cranberry juice
Shake with ice and strain into tall glass filled with ice. Top with sprite and garnish with lemon.
Madhu Badoni is a Red Deer-based freelance food writer. She can be reached at email@example.com. Watch for Madhu’s Masala-Mix blog on www.reddeeradvocate.com