DIY ways to add extra pizzazz to your cocktails and mocktails
There’s a reason cocktails made by pros are so delicious and it’s because – much like chefs – serious bartenders go to all sorts of lengths to create interesting layered ingredients. The good news is that, with a little patience and preparation, you can do this at home too. Here are some basic techniques you can use to add flavour to your concoctions, whether they include alcohol or not.
Syrups | Liquid sweeteners
A syrup can be as simple as sugar dissolved in water. Indeed, this is exactly what “simple syrup” is, used in bars everywhere instead of doing the fiddly job of dissolving sugar granules in drinks. However, you can replace the water with any liquid and sub out the sugar for any sweetener. Think fresh pineapple juice mixed with agave nectar, ginger juice mixed with honey, or xylitol mixed with rose water.
Basic method: Mix equal parts sugar and warm water then let cool.
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__________________________________ What's up Doc? 60ml @woodfordreserve 50ml Carrot & Ginger Juice 20ml Tumeric & Cinnamon Syrup 15ml @supasawa_sa #shakeyourshaker #stiryourstirrer #bartenderlife #thefineshaker #doyouevenspour #doyouevensshake #tikilife #pineapple #doyouevensstir #raiseyourspirits #bartender #cocktail
Oleo-saccharum | Concentrated citrus syrup
Latin for “oil-sugar”, oleo-saccharum is a kind of syrup made from sugar and citrus rinds. Here instead of dilution, the sugar extracts the oils from the rinds, leaving you with a concentrated citrus syrup.
Basic method: Sprinkle sugar over citrus rinds in a ratio of 1:4 and muddle. Leave overnight, then pour off the liquid.
Shrubs | Concentrated, flavoured acids
The sharbât of the Middle East (a concentrate of fruit juices or flower or herb extracts preserved in sugar water and later diluted, literally meaning “a drink”) inspired this technique. Instead of just sugar, shrubs have vinegar at their base and can include any manner of flavourings, from fruits to vegetables.
Basic method: In a 1:1 ratio, cover fruit with sugar and crush. Rest in the fridge for 6–24 hours until sugar has dissolved, then strain. Add vinegar (also 1:1) and refrigerate.
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Here is a🍍 Piña Colada 🥥 like cocktail anybody should be able to make at home! I’ve used rum in this, but this flavour combination can go well with other sprits as well, so experiment! I’ve even made it with gin before. 50ml Da Tulha Cachaça Silver 25ml Pineapple Shrub (Slide 4) 25ml Tennis Biscuit Syrup (slide 5) 25ml Aquafaba (Canned chick pea brine) Give it a hard shake and strain onto ice. Garnish with Pineapple leaves – Pineapple Shrub: Combine cut up rind of 1 pineapple with 150g of sugar for 1-3 days, till all the sugar turns to a syrup, add 375ml of vinegar (apple cider if you can) and let it sit for another day and strain. – Tennis Biscuit syrup: make a basic sugar syrup of 100g sugar and 100ml hot water, once it has cooled add it to blender with 50g of Tennis Biscuits and 50ml of hot water, once blended or mashed smooth smooth store it in a jar. – #capetownetc #capetownmag #capetownlove #cocktailtime🍹 #CocktailsAndDreams #cocktailsofinstagram #cocktailslovers #drinksporn #prettydrinks #CocktailSelfie #CocktailOfTheWeek #quarantinecocktails #quarantinedrinks #cocktailsathome #homecocktails #lockdowncocktails #lockdowndrinks #sustainability #sustainabledrinks @datulha.africa @datulha #easycocktails
Infusions | Adding flavour to liquids
Take a liquid, leave a flavouring in it for a while and the liquid takes on the characteristics of the flavouring. This could be something as PG as adding cucumber to spring water, or the more adult version of leaving cherries to soak in brandy. It’s a bit like making tea.
Basic method: Add botanical(s) to liquid in an airtight container. Shake, then leave for one hour to five days, depending on how porous/soft the flavouring is.
Tinctures and bitters | Liquid seasoning
These are like alcohol infusions, but the concentration is much higher; you’d add them to drinks as dashes, floats or sprays rather than drink them on their own, kind of like adding salt to food. Tinctures capture the flavour of a single natural flavouring, like a specific fruit; while bitters are a (generally bitter) medley of flavours, including roots, barks, leaves, herbs, spices, flowers, fruits, nuts or beans. Read more about this here.
Basic method: Soak flavouring(s) in a minimum of 50% ABV alcohol in an airtight container. Shake occasionally and strain once you get the flavour you want – anything from 24 hours to several weeks. For better control, bitters can also be made by combining tinctures.
Fat wash | Adding savoury notes and mouthfeel
An aroma extraction borrowed from the perfume industry, fat washes are when you infuse the flavour and mouthfeel of a fat into a spirit. Think peanut butter and rum, sesame oil and gin, or bacon fat and whisky. Yum!
Basic method: Melt fat and add to the spirit, then let rest for three or four hours. Chill overnight then skim off the solidified fat. (For peanut butter, just let the spirit rest on it.) Aim for a 1:6 ratio for strong-tasting fats and 1:3 for more delicate fats.
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A while back I had to prep a cocktail for a live Q&A with @fermented.co.za. This is what I made: 🥃 IN A PICKLE OLD FASHIONED 50ml peanut-butter washed @innocent_spirits_distillery Black Barrel Rum 5ml pickle syrup 2 dashes @angosturaza bitters 🧊 For the fat wash, smear a baking tray with peanut butter. Pour rum over, cover and let sit overnight. Then pour rum off and filter. 🥜 For the pickle syrup, mix equal parts pickle brine and sugar. Heat to dissolve if necessary. 🍞 Garnished with a slice of home-made sourdough toast topped with rum-infused peanut butter and sliced pickles