There’s the skill - you will need to stir the ingredients gently so as not to burn the alcohol which with practice will help you master.
The last couple of years has changed the way we consume alcohol. The lockdowns saw bars, pubs, and restaurants shut for over a year. So, most people stayed home or hung out at friends’ houses to unwind with a drink. That led to a new trend - we now have people learning to make cocktails at home. The trends are expected to continue this year, thanks to the growing interest in new concoctions from super-bitter spirits to veggie-packed cocktails. Research shows that while Indians love to go out for a drink now and again, the majority prefer to stay at home. We’re here to help you with our quick guide on cocktails, and a handful of fascinating origin stories for the most popular cocktails.
Making Cocktails at Home
You can make your own delicious cocktails at home using simple syrup, bitters, and citrus peel oil. You can also purchase ingredients like ice cubes. All of these can be bought at a supermarket. To make that new cocktail you’ve been eyeing, you will need to mix the ingredients in a mixing glass. Then there’s the skill - you will need to stir the ingredients gently so as not to burn the alcohol. Practice will help you master the perfect dilution. You can also make cocktails with or without ice.
Simple syrup is a versatile ingredient in cocktails. It can be flavored with a variety of flavors, including herbs and fruit. Some people prefer to use fresh herbs and fruits to infuse the simple syrup. To add flavor to the syrup, just add the herbs to a sugar mixer and let it sit for 20 minutes, or overnight if you prefer it stronger.
There are several different ways of making bitters. One way is to make simple syrup. This syrup is often sold at the grocery store and can be mixed with other ingredients for a cocktail. Another option is to buy specialty bottles. Bitters are best stored in dark environments.
Citrus peel oil
To make citrus peel oil, all you need is a citrus peel that is about an inch or less thick. The peel should be free of the white pith, which has a bitter taste. Citrus peels are best when they are still whole, as the skin is filled with oils. If you cut them, they lose their ability to release the oils. The resulting peel will not have the same flavor as whole citrus.
Ice cubes are an important ingredient in most cocktails. The size and quality of the ice you use will have an impact on the final taste and appearance of the cocktail. Ideally, you should use solid cubes that are at least one-inch square and 25mm in thickness. Ice cubes that are hollow and thin are not suitable for mixing drinks.
When it comes to making drinks at home, the jigger is one of the most important tools. It can help with the consistency of the cocktail. Small pours won't ruin a simple cocktail, but in more complex drinks, a quarter ounce can make a big difference. Whether you're preparing cocktails at home or in a professional bar, a jigger is an invaluable tool to have in your cocktail toolkit.
One of the best rums to use in making cocktails at home is white rum. It is known for its versatility and has long been the star ingredient in cocktails. While it tends to be inexpensive, premiumization opportunities are growing for this liquor in the drinks industry. According to the IWSR Drinks Market Analysis, white rum volume declined in 2020 but grew in 2021. Must be all the cocktails being made at house parties across India, no?
The Tales Behind the Cocktails
A big part of the draw with cocktails is the name. They’re quirky, wicked, unconventional, and definitely catch our attention. Martini, Long Island Iced Tea, Bloody Mary– all of these have fascinating origin stories.
Old Man Bishop and the Long Island Iced Tea
During Prohibition in the US (1920-1933), a bootlegger named Old Man Bishop created a cocktail called the Long Island. It was an alcoholic beverage made with maple syrup and whiskey. The cocktail's recipe is still used today, but its true origins remain a bit of a mystery. Many believe the drink originated in Long Island, Tennessee, where Old Man Bishop had lived. His son later refined the recipe by adding cola and lemon & lime, eventually leading to one of the most famous ‘entry-level’ cocktails in the world.
The Mojito saved lives?
The Mojito was first created in Havana, Cuba. It is thought to have originated during the 1500s as a way to treat the diseases prevalent in the Caribbean islands. Its popularity exploded after it was featured in the 2002 James Bond film Die Another Day. Pierce Brosnan sipped on a mojito while flirting with Halle Berry's character in the film, and the rest is history.
Pierce Egan invented Tom and Jerry
The cocktail, not the cartoon characters. This cocktail was named by a British journalist, Pierce Egan, who invented it in the 1820s when he was working as a barman at the Cremorne Pleasure Gardens in London. The amusement park was an American-style bowling alley and included a bar. The bar lasted only two seasons. Egan wanted to promote his play Tom and Jerry, or Life In London. He added his own twist to the drink and called it Tom and Jerry. Yes, one of the most famous cocktails today was a publicity stunt from 19th-century London.
Harry Craddock, rockstar bartender,and his Dry Martini
Harry Craddock is a legendary bartender in the UK. During the US prohibition era, he moved to England and was hired by Ada Coleman, the head bartender at the Savoy Hotel in London, to mix cocktails. Later, Craddock took over the role of head bartender, before moving to the Browns Hotel. There, he created the signature Dry Martini. His recipe was later included in his popular 1930 book The Savoy Cocktail Book. It contains more than 750 cocktail recipes. Other stories claim the Dry Martini is named after the Martini brand of vermouth.
This one has been around for so long but remains ever so popular. Whiskey, sweet vermouth, and bitters, with a cherry on top, make for a timeless cocktail loved by millions. Legend has it this cocktail originated in the Manhattan Club in New York back in the 1870s. But the lady for whose banquet that cocktail was created was in France at the time. And so, the mystery thickens. There are many who lay claim to inventing this legendary mix but there has never been a clear winner from the many suitors. That said, the competition meant that we now have many great variations of the Manhattan, so I guess everybody wins.
Failed actor invents the Bloody Mary, or did he?
In the 1920s, the Bloody Mary was invented by an actor named George Jessel. Or so he claimed. The actor had turned down a film deal with Warner Brothers to star in the 1925 Broadway hit The Jazz Singer, but was a hit on the US party scene. He claimed to have invented the Bloody Mary. But, as with all cocktail lore, there are many claimants. A Frenchman, Fernand Petiot, claimed he took Jessel’s simplistic recipe of vodka + tomato juice and perfected the Bloody Mary that became popular. Who knew cocktail invention was such a bitterly contested legacy?