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cocktails – Shake it baby!

Posted by Laura Fatah on October 11 2013.

There’s no better way to get your party going than a good strong drink; it breaks the ice between guests and gets the giggles and gossip flowing. So why not take the chance to impress your friends and make one yourself? Easier than it sounds, all  good classic cocktails consists of is these three components:

Cocktails Base

– the main spirit to be used (this should be around 70% of the cocktails volume before ice is added).

Modifying agent

– this softens the raw alcoholic taste of the base spirit and could either be smoothing like fruit juice, or aromatic wine such as vermouth, or cream.

Flavour and colouring agents

– these will be liqueurs or syrups, added sparingly.

And a lot of ice. Traditionally cocktails are not served with ice cubes in the glass, but are shaken with ice to bring the temperature of the liquid right down.

As you would expect, the higher the quality of the spirits you use the better your end drink will be. Higher quality spirits are smoother, less acrid and will usually be kinder on your head in the morning!

Layered cocktails

, where two or more layers of colour are distinctly visible in the glass, are especially fun and look fantastic. These layers are maintained by the different viscosities (thickness) of each liquid, allowing one to float upon another. In order for this to work each different component of the cocktail should be ice cold. The best and only way to achieve this is with a cocktail shaker, a load of ice and some good old elbow grease!

Once you have your first layer of spirits and other ingredients ready in a tall glass, fill it to the brim with ice and knock the metal shaker onto the top of the glass. Making sure it is secure (give it a good tap against a work top) hold the shaker and glass horizontally and shake like you mean it for at least 40 seconds.

Carefully strain the contents from the shaker into the serving glass, and repeat for next layer, remembering to pour carefully on top.

For a float (thin layer of alcohol on top of cocktails) pour the spirit onto an upside down spoon, held just below the rim of the glass, as close to the surface of the drink as possible. The tip of the spoon should be touching the edge of the glass. This will soften the descent of the liqueur or cream into the glass so that is does not mix (theoretically!). We have found this works best with baileys.

Give this a try, it’s called a Marlon Brando

Start with an old fashioned glass and fill it with ice. Add 50ml of Scotch for the first layer. Gently add 25ml of Amaretto for the middle layer. Then finally, float a touch (maybe 10ml) of cream or Baileys for the top layer. Admire your fine work and serve.

If your mixology skills aren’t quite up to Covent Garden standards, why not get help from someone who is? Acquire professional advice, techniques and tricks of the trade, with a workshop lead by one of our cocktail gurus. You can even drink the results.

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