By mastering three simple techniques, you can create signature party drinks using any number of spirits in a variety of styles. Each technique mixes drink components in a way that releases the best flavors in the classic cocktails or trendy combinations for which they are recommended.Blending
Blending yields something that other methods don't: a drink with great fresh fruit flavor and texture. The basic ingredients are fruit, liquor, and ice, but the opportunities for improvisation are unlimited. When creating blended drinks, follow these tips:
- For the smoothest results, blend liquor, juices, and fruit before adding ice.
- If your blender struggles to chop ice, try using smaller cubes, or precrush ice. Wrap ice in a clean towel, and use a rolling pin, meat mallet, or other tool to break it into smaller pieces.
Shaking does much more than simply chill the drink. The act of shaking with ice incorporates water and softens the alcohol edge. The result is a well-balanced cocktail. Try these tips for shaking your party drinks:
- Place ingredients in the shaker, then drop in five or six cubes per drink.
- Use large ice cubes; small cubes tend to break up, leaving floating chips in your drinks.
- Never use the same ice in a cocktail shaker twice, even if you're making the same recipe. Fresh ice keeps the right balance between the water and spirits.
- The right amount of shaking is a matter of debate among mixologists and cocktail drinkers. Many sources simply recommend you shake vigorously. Shaking for a slow count of 10 should be sufficient, but some sources suggest shaking for 20 seconds.
Muddling means to crush fruits, herbs, and zests to unlock every bit of flavor. Slightly bruising ingredients, such as mint and basil, brings out the essential oils. The release of flavor creates a much more vibrant cocktail than if the ingredients are simply stirred in.
A muddler is a long pestle used to press and twist herbs and fruit to extract oils. The tool resembles a miniature baseball bat.
When muddling, you don't need to shred herbs, only bruise them. Look for a heavy, flat-bottomed wood muddler, but if you can't find one, use the end of a wooden spoon.