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COCKTAIL  TECHNIQUES

Goblet blenders are the best shape for mixing cocktails that need to be aerated, as well as for creating frothy cocktails or ones made with finely crushed ice. Ice should be crushed to fine ‘snow’ before blending. To crush ice use an ice crushing machine with a handle. Crushed ice must be also used for drinks that are to be served frappe.  Keep the ice in an ice bucket with a lid if you have to wait a few minutes before mixing the ice with other ingredients.

Cocktails that contain sugar syrups or creams require more than just a stir; they must be combined and chilled  inside a shaker. Shake vigorously for about 15 seconds to blend simple concoctions, and for 20-30 seconds for drinks with sugar syrups and cream. The shaker should feel extremely cold. Never shake anything sparkling; this will flatten it.

If the rim of a glass is frosted the appearance  and taste of a cocktail are enhanced. After frosting place the glass in a refrigerator to chill until needed.

Shaking

The object of shaking a cocktail is to thoroughly combine the ingredients and to cool the mixture down until it is almost frozen. This technique is particularly useful for drinks that contain eggs, fruit juices or cream. Recipes that need to remain clear (for example, Martinis) should always be stirred instead of being shaken, in order to retain their clarity.

 

When shaking cocktails, it is important to remember that the volume of liquid will increase during the mixing process, as some of the ice will melt. Make sure that you do not produce more drink than the glass will hold.

 

To Shake and Strain

Half fill the cocktail shaker with whole ice cubes. Do not use crushed ice as this will clog the holes of the strainer.

Add in the ingredients.

Shake the container briskly until its exterior becomes almost too cold to touch.

Pour the cocktail immediately through a hawthorn strainer or the built-in strainer, leaving the ice behind.

Wrap a cloth around the seal of the shaker if it is prone to dripping.

 

To Shake and Pour Unstrained

It is a good idea to use a Boston shaker for this type of recipe, although a standard shaker may be used - just remember that you will need to remove the entire upper section when you come to pour the drink - not just the lid.

Add a glassful of ice to the cocktail shaker.

Pour in the ingredients.

Shake the container briskly until its exterior becomes almost too cold to touch.

Pour the drink (plus ice) into the same size glass used to measure the ice. This will ensure that the contents of the shaker fills the glass neatly.

 

Stirring

Stirring is a technique primarily used for drinks made up of clear ingredients, and is used to chill and thoroughly mix the cocktail whilst still retaining clarity. Despite James Bond's preference to his cocktail being 'shaken, not stirred', it is the perfect method for mixing Martinis.

 

To Stir and Strain

Half fill a Boston shaker or a mixing glass with ice cubes.

Add the ingredients.

Stir with a long-handled barspoon - about 15-20 rotations should be quite enough. Any more and you will cause the ice to melt, thus diluting the drink.

Place a hawthorn strainer over the top of the vessel and pour the liquid into a serving glass.

 

To Stir and Serve Unstrained

Add a glassful of ice to a cocktail shaker or mixing glass.

Pour in the ingredients.

Stir the mixture for about 15 seconds with a long-handled barspoon.

Pour the drink (plus ice) into the same size glass used to measure the ice. This will ensure that the contents of the shaker fill the glass neatly.

 

Rimmed Glasses

The rim of a cocktail glass may be frosted with salt, sugar or any other fine powder, and is an essential part in creating drinks such as a Margarita. To frost, hold the glass upside down, so that the juice does not run down the glass. Rub the rim with the cut surface of a lemon, lime, orange or even a slice of fresh pineapple.  Keeping the glass upside down dip the rim into a shallow layer of sugar, coconut or salt. Redip the glass, if necessary, and turn it so that the rim is well-coated.  Stand the glass upright and let it sit until the sugar, coconut or salt has dried on the rim, then chill.  There are also glass rimmers available that help to create a neat and tidy edge.

 

Measuring and Mixing

Test out your cocktail glasses to check how much they will hold. You can do this by filling them with crushed, broken and then whole ice cubes, and then counting how many units of water they will hold in each case. You will then be able to determine how many measures you will need to make a single cocktail to fit that particular glass.

Measure all quantities accurately using a jigger, particularly when using ingredients with strong flavours such as Pernod or Creme de Menthe.

Never fill a shaker so full of liquid that there is no room for shaking.

 

Never shake fizzy drinks. Add the mixer in at the end and stir gently.

Always pour your cocktail into a chilled glass; if you do not have a fridge nearby then chill the glass with ice cubes.

 

Always bear in mind that a successful cocktail usually achieves a balance between sharpness or bitterness (e.g. lemon juice) and sweetness (e.g. fruit liqueur). You should also think about the colour, texture, consistency, aroma, taste and presentation.

When mixing cocktails, always add the cheapest ingredients first, such as the fruit juice. In this way, if you make a mistake, you will not waste any expensive spirits.

Always add the ice into the shaker or glass before the alcohol is added; the drink will chill more quickly and evenly this way, and there will be less chance of the alcohol becoming diluted.

 

Shaking a teaspoon of egg white (albumen) together with other ingredients will give clear cocktails a pleasant thin white head and a smooth misty look. Your guests will not be able to taste the egg.

 

If you make up a cocktail containing cream or egg, always make sure that you wash out the shaker thoroughly using detergent and cloth to remove any traces that may have become stuck to the inside. Not only are these traces unhygienic, but they may also taint the next cocktail.

 

Preparing Ice

Ice may be used in cocktails in a number of ways: cubes, cracked (lump), crushed or shaved (snow).

 

Cracked Ice

Cracked (or lump) ice consists of cubes that have been roughly broken down into smaller pieces. You can make cracked ice at home by simply placing some whole ice cubes into a bag or tea towel. Lay the cubes out on a board so that you have a single layer of cubes, and hit them firmly with a mallet or meat tenderizer. Each cube should only be broken once or twice.

 

Crushed Ice

Crushed ice is ice that has been broken down further than cracked ice. This may be carried out in a blender; however, you should always break the cubes up (as above) before adding them to the blender to prevent the risk of any damage to the machine. As the crushed ice will liquefy quickly, it is important to produce it immediately before use, making sure that the glass to be used is well chilled.

 

Shaved Ice

Shaved ice (or snow) is even finer than crushed ice, and is usually made in a special machine that shaves the ice cubes into fine snow.

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