Good drinks tell good stories!
When you belly up to the bar, how well do you know the cocktail you’re ordering?
A good cocktail offers more than just a tasty combination of liquor and mixers but also a great story.
But what is the origin of the cocktail?
We don’t know when the first cocktail was made, or the etymology of the word itself, though there are plenty of stories.
My favorite: everything began in 1779 when an Irish man called Flanagan opened a pub in Georgetown, a small city of Virginia, USA. Flanagan and his daughter Betsy served fortified drinks called Bracer that means stimulant and energetic drinks, to their clients. In that time Flanagan had very bad relation with his English neighbor who owned a band of fighting cocks. The English man complained about the big mess that the clients of the pub caused until very late hours of the night. And the Irish man complained about the noise that the cocks did at dawn and didn’t let him sleep. He even threatened with twisting his cocks’ necks if the English man didn’t do anything about it.
One day Flanagan and his daughter decided to kill their neighbor’s cocks. After a succulent dinner made with them at the pub, they served drinks to their clients. Betsy had a surprise for that night and she served the famous bracers in glasses decorated with multicolor feathers came from the killed cocks. Clients loved Betsy’s surprise and they even congratulated her for such a good idea; they started calling them Cock-tails. And from that day and on, Bracer was changed for Cocktail.
And what is a cocktail?
A cocktail is any beverage that contains three or more ingredients if at least one of them contains alcohol.
In today’s parlance, just about anything served up in a bar containing alcohol–other than wine or beer–has been mistakenly given the label a cocktail.
A mixed drink is a beverage in which two or more ingredients are mixed.
So all cocktails are mixed drinks, but not all mixed drinks are cocktails.
When I think of a cocktail I think of a knowledgeable bartender mixing quality ingredients and spending a little more time and effort on the drink. Moreover, the cocktail experience should include something beyond just the beverage itself; a cocktail should have a story or something unique or special about it.
A classic mixed drink (long drink) is a Tom Collins (Gin, lemon juice, soda).
A simple style of long drink is the highball, a drink composed of one liquor and one mixer, (excluding garnish or ice). Classic examples of highball are Gin and tonic, Whiskey and soda, Vodka and orange…
Highballs are by far, the most common type of drink served by the Bartender. And fortunately enough, they are also the easiest to prepare. In nearly all cases, a Highball glass is filled with ice, and the ingredients are poured straight, without any shaking, stirring, or straining.
Shaken or stirred?
James Bond was so wrong when he asked for his martini “shaken, not stirred.” Deciding when to shake and when to stir a cocktail is an important part of mixology, and has a huge impact on a drink’s texture and appearance. Here are the ground rules for shaking or stirring, so you won’t make Bond’s same mistake again.
When: Shake cocktails when they include fruit juices, cream liqueurs, simple syrup, sour mix, egg, dairy or other thick mixers.
Why: Shaking adds tiny air bubbles into the mixture, making it easy to drink with a light texture. For drinks with fruit juice, it gives a frothy appearance, and for drinks with egg, it adds a foamy, meringue-like layer on top.
Examples: Daiquiri, Margarita
When: Stir cocktails when they use distilled spirits or very light mixers. Many gin and whiskey cocktails are stirred because shaking might “bruise” the spirit.
Why: No air bubbles to cloud the clarity of the drink. The stirred cocktail will have a silky texture and creamy feel. Stirring also maintains the aromas of the spirit.
Examples: Manhattan, Martini