How to Avoid these Common Cocktail Mistakes
Fantastic results are obtained when you avoid mistakes such as over-pouring, improper dilution, poor ingredients.
Serving a simple, flexible yet special cocktail for arriving guests is the epitome of good hosting. While making a cocktail with a little flair requires some skills in mixology, when done correctly the drink becomes something that everyone around you can sip all day.
However, some common mistakes are making you serve a bad cocktail. Once you realize these blunders, you’ll craft your skills and make the perfect cocktails for holidays, a relaxing weekend or when hosting at your home. Here are three cocktail mistakes you might be making:
1. Measuring using your eyes or free pouring
It’s easy to be misled when you see professional bartenders free pour and think you can also do the same. Just like when baking a cake, you need the right measurements to have a good end product. Pour more or less, and you’re likely to end up with a poor cocktail. Professional mixologists or bartenders use either the free pour or the jigger to measure liquid ingredients. While the jigger can slow down your speed, it’s the preferred method for the inexperienced. It’s also more precise as it allows for careful measuring of all the liquids that go into each drink.
On the other hand, a free pour takes time and practice to perfect. The right way to free pour is to use a timed count. Try equating each count with a specific amount of liquid poured. For instance, each number should represent 0.5 ounces of controlled liquor doses. While this is a less precise method since everyone has a different speed, create a rhythm that will give your drinks equal consistency. Regardless of whether to use free pour or the jigger technique, your ideal choice should control the amount of alcohol in the drinks.
2. Using incorrect dilution
It’s a common myth that a perfectly chilled cocktail just needs ice. However, Kevin Liu has published an article debunking myths about ice. Adding crushed ice dilutes a cocktail without providing the required cool effects. This is because small ice has a large surface area and when stored at room temperature it causes accumulation of a significant amount of surface water resulting in faster chilling and dilution. For cocktail drinkers at home, using ice that comes directly from your freezer can slow down dilution.
The speed in which a large ice melts will depend on air temperature, insulation, and volume of ice to the cocktail. Cocktails with large spheres of ice have a small surface area which causes them to float. As a result, they will be unable to chill the bottom of the drink fast enough. Stirring can help keep your cocktail cold until you’ve finished drinking. Larger ice cubes can lead to over diluted cocktails.
Impurities in ice can also ruin your cocktail. When ice freezes quickly, it traps air bubbles that cause the cloudiness seen in many drinks. Cleaning the ice maker and freezing the water slowly will eradicate any impurities. Since most cocktails use ice cubes and the water brings out the aroma that, allows the drink to smell and taste great, it’s essential that you learn how to clean an ice maker. Remember to unplug the device and clean regularly using a mild soap to prevent scaly deposits.
3. Making an unbalanced cocktail
Anyone who has ever made a cocktail from scratch can attest to how challenging the process can be when you’re making a batch for many consumers. Cocktail creation takes appropriate amounts of ingredients to make a tasty drink. An unbalanced cocktail tends to have too much alcohol, is flat, dull, too sweet, or too sour. Making good cocktails doesn’t require a lot of skills, but the balance has to be considered so that all the flavors have equal chances of standing out.
Shortcuts or using low-quality products can diminish cocktail taste and prevent it from reaching its full potential. Apart from ice, citrus is another major item that is likely to be found in almost every cocktail. It’s easy to skip using natural citric fruits such as lemon. Citrus components in the bottle have stabilizing agents that affect the flavor and can make the cocktail taste weird. The more natural and fresh the ingredients the more enjoyable the drink. But instead of focusing only on the ingredients, focus on the flavor perception they bring.
Michael Dietsch believes the balance of a cocktail is achieved when you know your target audience. Whether the drink is sweet, sour, or dry, in a well-balanced cocktail, no single flavor overshadows the others. The formula for cocktails combines alcohol, a sour and sweet ingredient in a ratio of 2:1:1 served in a coupe or cocktail glass. You can add sour bitters to create a balance of sweetness from the syrup and sour from citrus fruits like lemon.
Ultimately, understanding the basic mistakes can help you create both simple and complex cocktails with good flavors. Fantastic results are obtained when you avoid mistakes such as over-pouring, improper dilution, poor ingredients. When you use natural fruits and balance your cocktail, you will get a drink with exciting flavors.
About the Author
Mike Jones – Freelance Writer
Guest Blogger | Wanderer | Foodie | Follow Mike on Twitter