If you ever wondered what separates an awesome cocktail from a subpar drink, you’d be surprised to learn it all lies within the simplicity. MiLLENNiAL met up with Cocktail Academy’s Beverage Director, Brandyn Tepper, to learn what new flavors and tricks the spirit industry has to offer mixology in 2015.
According to Tepper, “Every bar is raising their level of execution.” There is a particular “attention to the quality” he says is carrying through to the “techniques used behind the bar.” From tinkering with an iSi Whip to infuse a spirit in less than five minutes to concocting unique syrups, bartenders are elevating expectations and doing whatever they can to create buzz around their signature drinks.
Tepper explains that mixologists are “taking inspiration from the kitchen which wants to push the envelop of taste and they are applying that to the way they think about drinks.”
Sticking to basic formulas, he insists, “there are no new drinks” rather new spins on classic recipes.
Creative Twists on the Classics
To put this theory into practice, Tepper made us his spin on a Daiquiri (2 oz rum, 1 oz lime juice, and ¾ oz sugar) adding mint for a refreshing finish.
But aside from fancy garnishes, the most important ingredient to any tasty cocktail is ICE. It sounds too simple, but the power of dilution is what can turn a good drink into a great drink.
Tepper insists that there is indeed a “right type of ice” to use when crafting your poison. The trick is to use a 2 ¼ inch cube that is not going to melt fast, “otherwise the drink won’t be palatable.”
Matt Landes, founder and CEO of Cocktail Academy, tells us, “Brandyn uses ice the same way a chef uses fire. When the ice dilutes a certain amount the drink is ready.” He explains that you have to look at drinks like food, and allow time for it to “cook” appropriately.
In addition to ice, Tepper adds, “the next thing is citrus and it has to be fresh.” This ingredient chilled can really make a difference in the quality of taste. Not only is the juice something that can raise the bar on the flavor, but the rind can also have incredible use.
A way for bartenders to get creative with their ice is to freeze their ingredients into a cube. An example of this for a Penicilin (2 oz blended scotch whiskey, ¾ oz lemon juice, ¾ oz honey syrup, 3 slices of fresh ginger) is to mix and pour the lemon juice, honey syrup and ginger into an ice tray. Once the liquid has frozen, pour some whiskey over the cubes and let the ice do its job by slowly melting the flavors into the alcohol.
And if you are really feeling adventurous, peel some rind, light a match, squeeze the rind in front of the flame, and then wipe the peel along the rim of the glass for a smoky yet vibrant citrus taste to compliment every sip.
Tips for Home Bartenders
As Landes says, “A home bartender can be better than a real bartender because they have more time.” There is no need to rush any part of the process.
Forge quality ice by making it yourself. Tepper suggests to “take a bread pan, fill it with water, stick it in your freezer, and cut a block.” This can be used for a whiskey on the rocks or as the ice for your shaker.
Another great tip for at home mixology is to make your own flavorful syrups. Landes emphasizes, “Anytime you have sugar and fruit, you can bring it down and create any type of syrup. Equal parts citrus to equal parts sugar, have fun with that sugar and have fun with that citrus.”
Mixology is not just about Cocktails
The beauty of mixology is that is extends far beyond cocktails and into any type of drink. The DIY syrups can be used for tea, coffee, pancakes, ice cream, or whatever suits your interests. Landes adds, “any leftover syrup can used for shandies, champagne cocktails, or even lemonades.”
The sky is the limit when crafting your own unique cocktails, just remember in order to get the most out of your flavors, use ice, fresh ingredients, and high quality spirits.
To learn more about Cocktail Academy or how to take your drinks to the next level, visit CocktailAcademy.com.