Cocktails and Cocktail Making

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COCKTAIL MAKING GUIDE ---- SHAKEN OR STIRRED? Shaking and stirring cocktails is intended to consistently chill and not dilute. As a general rule cocktails that contain purely alcoholic ingredients should be chilled by stirring. This is done by simply pouring your ingredients into a mixing glass stacked with fresh ice and then stirring for up to 20 seconds. Shaking is the essential chilling technique for cocktails containing fruit juice and thicker ingredients such as syrup or cream. The shaking action will break down any lumps of fruit and vigorously mix and chill the shaker contents. Shaken cocktails should usually be strained with a hawthorn strainer or a fine strainer, especially those served in a martini glass so that any pulp and shards of ice are removed. It is wise not to shake carbonated ingredients! ---- GARNISHING Be creative with your garnishes - use different cuts and different fruit to complement the taste and colours of your cocktails. It is possible to rim your glass with different coloured sugar by dipping the rim of the glass into different coloured liqueurs and syrups before dipping into sugar. As the saying goes - "The first taste is with the eye" so make sure your garnishes match the flavours in the drink. A useful garnish is the citrus wedge which gives the drinker the option of squeezing their fruit to alter the flavour. Straws, stirrers, cherry spikes, cocktail sticks, ice, fruit wheels, strips of zest, chocolate shavings and combinations of, can all make effective and easy garnishes that can bring life to the most basic of drinks. TOP TIP - Use your imagination. ---- SWEET / SOUR 'BALANCE' A high proportion of cocktails rely on a mixture of sweet and sour complementing a base spirit. The Daiquiri is the perfect example - rum, sugar and lime. For such cocktails it is difficult to make consistently good drinks by following instructions from a book. Fruit cannot be relied upon for a consistent flavour and different brands of mixers and alcohol may also taste different. Therefore, it is important that the sweet-sour elements are 'balanced' so that each can be tasted equally. Until you gain familiarity with a batch of fruit or brand of alcohol or mixer it is important that you check the balance before serving. Common sweet ingredients include sugar, gomme, grenadine, orange juice, cream and liqueurs such as Cointreau, Triple Sec/Curacao and Midori. The most typical sours are lemon and lime. As your confidence in cocktail making grows mix up your ingredients by swapping the elements to suit your tastes, remembering that a 'balance' will bring the best out of your spirits.
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