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How to Create Winning Cocktails Like an Expert

Discover the best tricks of the trade of our mixologists!

Our editors have been on a quest to get the best tricks of the trade and latest trends from our duty-free mixologists around the world. This March, we are sharing our secrets and giving you the lowdown on what you need to know prior to mixing your next cocktail.

Get creative, and specific, with themes

Gone are the days when a bar simply had a list of drinks. In the trendy bars, worldwide bartenders now create themed drink lists. Some themes we've heard of include social-media: where imbibers liked, shared and viewed different drinks and the winners were selected for the cocktail menu - in real-time! Other bars have created an almost performance-art experience using themes like augmented reality, complete with their own apps!
 
Certainly, dear readers, we do not expect you to create apps, much less virtual and augmented reality interfaces. We do, however, believe that you can take some inspiration from these out-of-the-box themes to come up with your own.
 
Some more classic takes on a themed drink list include political themes with a drink for each world leader, to musical history. The Savoy's American Bar created a list of cocktails based on musicians who played there over the past 130 years. 20 cocktails were based on piano bar performers at the iconic bar, imbibers can choose drinks ranging from jazz standards to rock hits.

KISS Keep It Simple, Silly!

If our first trend is to amp up the creativity, our second trend is to keep things simple. People can be overwhelmed by how much choice is out there. Newer ingredients also create confusion. Sometimes looking at a cocktail list starts to feel like trying to decipher the Rosetta stone. For those of you who feel overwhelmed, you have carte blanche to strip your cocktails down to the bare minimum and keep 'em simple, silly.
 
One of our mixologists in London told us that the Langham hotel created a menu of cocktails made from only two ingredients. Take your inspiration from this and choose a spirit of your liking as the base, then offer flavour alternatives that will bring out the key characteristics of your chosen spirit. You can also flip this around and choose a flavour that you mix with different spirits. For example, try almond as your flavour and then mix it with gin, vodka or brandy. Alternatively, take vodka and try different variations on flavour with citrus (lime, lemon or orange), flower (rose or lavender) and spice (vanilla, cinnamon)
 
For our crafty readers, you can even try coming up with your own liqueurs. Take a strong spirit such as vodka and put it in an airtight bottle or jar with your favourite herbs. Leave for at least a month and voila! You will have your very own infused liquor to mix your drinks with.

Bubbles, baby

Oh yes, we love ourselves some carbonated fizz. If you are looking for a lighter cocktail, you can use Prosecco, Champagne and sparkling wine-based drinks (think Spritz, Bellini and Mimosa).
 
You can use flavoured carbonated water to add some dimension to classic cocktails, think fizzy minty rum mix or a rose-infused gin tonic. 
 
Speaking of gin... Gin baby gin!

Gin it up, baby

Yes, you thought the gin & tonic obsession of the past decade might be coming to an end, but oh no. Gin is here to stay. With new brands entering the market in a seemingly unending wave, you could make a different menu inspired by gin every night, using different gins for every cocktail and you would have enough variety to go on for months!
 
Take gin as your base and use it for one of our earlier trends, adding flavoured carbonation, infusing it with a simple complimentary herb or creating an entire creative cocktail menu with gin as the base liquor.
 
Here are a few gin cocktails, which you can try out this spring:

The Gibson

Classy and sexy, this cocktail is a twist on the Martini.
 
You Need:
• 6 cl (6 parts) Gin
• 1 cl (1 part) dry Vermouth
 
Get Mixing:    
• Fill a shaker with ice, pour in gin and vermouth and stir well. Strain into a chilled martini glass, garnish with a cocktail onion and serve.
 
The origins of this drink are dubious but the effects of it are clear as day. This cocktail classic ensures your personal mixologist list will be on-trend in 2020.

 

Gin Rickey

Also known as the Rickey Cocktail, this drink appears as early as 1903. We can see why it has stood the test of time.
 
You Need:
• 6 cl bourbon, rye whiskey, or gin
• Half of a lime
• Sparkling mineral water or club soda
 
Get Mixing:
• Take your spirit of choice and put it in a highball or wine glass along with the half-lime, crushed and dropped in. Add ice, stir, and slowly add sparkling water or club soda to the level of your choice.
 
This drink is a perfect example of keeping it simple and adding a dash of carbonation. You can also add a splash of simple syrup if you want it a little sweeter.

Negroni

Last, but certainly not least, the Negroni is, according to our international mixologists, the drink of choice of the most seasoned cocktail connoisseurs.
 
You Need:
• 3 cl Gin
• 3 cl Sweet red vermouth
• 3 cl Campari

Get Mixing:
• Put ice into a highball glass, stir the ingredients as you pour them into the glass, garnish with an orange slice and serve.

This is an excellent pre-dinner drink, or, as they say in Italian, aperitivo. If you start your evening out with a Negroni you are sure to end up with a buona serata!

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