With March Madness upon us, your thoughts may be turning to hosting parties for friends and family. In these days of educated palates and craft cocktail bars, this can be a daunting task. Have no fear – you’re sure to win with these pointers.
Master the Basics.
You don’t need to know hundreds of different cocktails, just master a handful of the classics. Pick from several different styles (e.g. refreshing, sparkling, strong), and learn them well! A solid list might include the Manhattan, Old Fashioned, Margarita, Sidecar, Champagne Cocktail, and Cosmopolitan.
Keep your bar simple.
None of your guests should expect your home bar to look like a restaurant bar. If your guest is upset that you don’t have Macallan 50-year Scotch, you might want to rethink your guest list! Have four to five base spirits (whiskey, gin, tequila, vodka, rum), vermouth, bitters, and a couple of fruit liqueurs, such as Triple Sec.
Keep your cocktails balanced.
A balanced drink is a perfect drink. No chef or home cook would be happy if his or her food were too spicy, too sweet, or too salty. A good bartender strives for the same balance.
Keep it Simple.
A perfect cocktail can be created with only three ingredients. Work off the following guidelines and allow for small adjustments.
Refreshing Drinks. Include a base spirit (such as rum or gin), a sweet element (simple syrup or fruit liqueur) and a sour element (like lemon or lime juice). A good general recipe is two parts base spirit to one part sweet and one part sour.
Strong Drinks. Work on the principle of a base spirit (whiskey or brandy), a sweet element (vermouth, liqueur, etc.) and a bitter element (bitters, Camparit, etc.). Use two parts base spirit to one part sweet and a few dashes of bitter.
Keep it Fresh.
You don’t need to have the most expensive spirits on your shelf, but don’t use artificially flavored liqueurs or bottled juices! There is simply no substitute for fresh citrus juice, herbs or fruit.
Work in Advance.
While most of the best cocktails are made one at a time, pre-batching cocktails can help foster consistency and save the home bartender a lot of time. If you choose to do this, save fresh juices and bitters for last and always taste as you mix to make sure the balance is correct.
If you want to try more complex cocktails, add other levels of flavors by incorporating spices, herbs, or bitters to your drink. This recipe follows that pattern. It is a spicy and delicious Margarita variation, and can be enjoyed at La Chasse along with nearly 40 other cocktails on our craft cocktail menu.
• 1 1/2 oz Jalepeno-infused Tequila
• 3/4 oz fresh lime
• 3/4 oz Giffard Creme de Mure (or other good quality blackberry liqueur)
• dash of simple syrup
• muddled cilantro (mint or basil work well here also)
• Rocks glass rimmed with sea salt
Muddle the cilantro with the other ingredients. Fill your salt-rimmed glass with ice. Briefly shake the ingredients with ice and double strain (to remove any bits of cilantro) into the prepared glass. Garnish with lime and blackberries. Cheers!