Making stirred drinks – Martinis, Old Fashioneds, Sazeracs, Manhattans…

This is just a short post, which seeks to explain some of the important considerations when making these kinds of drinks. These are more “old” style cocktails and thus require a differing mentality and delicateness to perfect.

Before you begin making these drinks, it is important you understand the importance of balance in these drinks, as it is the craftsmanship that makes these drinks both delicious and special. Hence the eloquence with which these drinks are held. The components are few and simple, thus it is not as easy as simply following the ingredients list and throwing it all into a shaker. These drinks take practice, time and attentiveness to perfect.

The key with these drinks is achieving the correct dilution through stirring the drink for the correct amount of time. It is however, very difficult  to put a precise “mixing time”, as this time is dependent on so many variables. The temperature of the room, how “wet” your ice is, the temperature of your liquids. Of course, if everything is warmer, dilution will occur much more quickly, whilst if the environment is colder, dilution will occur more slowly.

To this end, if available, it is preferable to serve stirred drinks requiring ice over a large ice cube (as opposed to a glass full of standard sized cubes). The reason being, that less of the surface area of the cube will be in contact with the air in the environment, and thus it will melt more slowly and serve to chill your beautifully crafted drink for longer without further diluting it. Of course, a potential alternative to ice could then be whiskey stones, although this is not viable in a commercial environment.

When garnishing these drinks specifically (although this is the case for any drink with a peel/zest garnish) it is important that, after the peel has been cut, as much of the white pith as possible is then removed from the underside of the peel. This white pith carries a lot of inherent bitterness, thus it is important to remove it in order to avoid this tainting the flavor of the drink, thus allowing the beautiful oils from the outside of the peel to compliment the drink without tarnish.

One can than cut any frilly edges from the sides, top and bottom of the peel, although this is purely aesthetic.

It is then important to effectively express the oils over the drink for maximum effect. One can achieve this by holding the peel above the drink, with the shiny side facing outwards, then briskly bending the peel to express the oils. You will see them spraying outwards, thus directing them towards the drink will ensure maximum fragrance is added to the drink. This allows the aromatic fruit-peel oils to sit on the surface of the drink and in the top of the glass, thus tantalizing the nose of the drinker.

Happy Mixing!

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