In an incredible book by self-confessed maverick mixer and pioneering trend-setter, JJ Goodman gives us all the secret to the creations that have shaken up the cocktail as we thought we knew it. He deliberately breaks the rules and re-invents, whipping up concoctions with the zeal of the archetypal mad professor. Bacon & Egg Martini anyone? Or perhaps a deep, dark Squid Ink Sour will float your boat?
Pick up your glass, clink and trust – because each and every seemingly outlandish concoction has been painstakingly balanced. He’s been named in London Lifestyle Award’s 50 Most Influential People and Zagat’s Trailblazers under 30, won The London Bar and Club Awards and the 42 Below Cocktail World Cup.
His creative skills are in big demand from some of the world’s biggest brands – he’s even worked at Buckingham Palace.
But the mixology maverick is not done yet… His next mission? To demystify the cocktail-making process and share the secrets and short-cuts that enable every novice to get in the mix.
Theory of mixology
Once you learn the structure of how drinks are made, understanding mixology becomes very simple. Each style of drink is made from a pretty basic recipe. The trick is to get inventive with different flavours, vessels, garnishes and aromas… That’s what it’s all about.
Let’s start with the basic formula for success. Stick to this and you can’t go wrong:
1 part sour (25ml)
1 part sweet (25ml)
2 parts dry (50ml)
2 parts wet (50ml)
- sour is citrus (lime, lemon, grapefruit, orange etc)
- sweet can be sugar syrup, raspberry syrup, honey or even a liqueur.
- dry is usually your base spirit and gives the drink its main body and strength.
- wet is your lengthener; it can be soda water, pineapple juice, coconut water or even beer.
To make a great cocktail it’s important to understand the roll these three elements play:
A great cocktail has a perfect harmony of flavour. Too much sour element and your drink will be too tart. Too much sweet and you end up with a syrupy mess. Too much dry results in too strong a drink, and too much wet element will drown the balance of flavours.
To achieve balance, you must have a level of dilution. If a drink is not diluted enough the heavy flavours can be overwhelming on the first sip, making it a pretty bad experience. But too much dilution and most of the flavours will have disappeared into the watery abyss.
This brings us nicely round to the chill factor. Why do bartenders have a crush on ice? Because to get to the holy grail that is balance, you need dilution, and to get dilution… Yep you guessed it, you need ice. Cocktails simply would not work without it.
Having ice in the mix during the making of your drink can do everything from changing the temperature to the flavour. A glass filled up with lots of ice is not about selling you short on liquid. In fact, the more ice you have in your glass the colder the drink will stay, aiding the dilution process. Cool, right?
TOOLS OF THE TRADE
So what do you need to make cocktails? The great news is you don’t have to spend a small fortune on professional kit. There are loads of everyday kitchen items that will do the job.
Saucepans, blenders and juicers, knives, wooden spoons, tea strainers, kitchen scales, chopping boards…
You’ve got the lot hanging around in drawers and cupboards, right?
If you’re the extra-inventive type, we’re pretty sure you can find some great improvisations. Chopsticks make great stirrers. And if you don’t have a set of measuring scales, you could easily use a baby’s bottle as a measure. Just make sure you wash it out afterwards!
When it comes to storing your ingredients, you’ll need a lot of Tupperware, Kilner jars and swing top bottles, all great for storing citrus juices, syrups, garnishes and the like. It’s more cost-effective to make a big batch of the ingredients you’ll use more often. You can even make up a load of the same cocktail and store it in the fridge for later.
Talking about inventiveness, here’s a top tip for cocktails to go…
Take your homemade mix to the party or the park with our amazing tip. The next time you finish a box of wine, don’t throw it away. It’s the perfect vessel for cocktails on tap. Open it up, remove the plastic inner, rinse and fill it with your cocktail mix. Seal it back in place with a sandwich bag tie and you’re good to go. The little tap you used for your wine will work a treat.
There are some cocktail skills and methods that are easier if you use professional kit. Each recipe in this book explains the methods and tools you’ll need. But first, let’s get familiar with some of the terms we use in the trade.
The cocktail shaker is arguably the most important piece of equipment in any bartender’s arsenal. At London Cocktail Club, we use a two-piece tin-on-tin shaker. It’s great for speed and never breaks. It’s big enough to make multiple drinks in one go, and each one will taste exactly the same. When you see the instruction ‘shake’, reach for your cocktail shaker and add all ingredients then the ice.
Hold the shaker firmly with two hands and shake hard and fast every time, ensuring the ice hits both ends of the shaker. The amount of time you shake for depends on the cocktail. A long shake should last 10-12 seconds, when mixing soured classics such as a Daiquiri. A short shake takes 5-6 seconds, which is enough for Espresso Martinis and other drinks that need to be chilled but not diluted (a 12-second shake can add 50ml of dilution to a single cocktail).
Shaking not only mixes a drink, it also chills, dilutes and aerates it. The dilution achieved by shaking is just as important as using the right amount of each ingredient. Too little ice will melt too quickly in the shaker, producing an over-diluted drink and if not shaken enough the drink will not be balanced.
- Never shake carbonated liquids like sodas or Champagne. You will end up covered from head to toe in cocktail.
- Sometimes a drink will call for a ‘dry shake’. This comes into play most frequently when using egg whites. Shake without ice for five seconds then add ice and shake for a further five seconds and strain. The result is a nice frothy drink without any unwanted dilution.
- To open the [boston] shaker, bash the point where the two tins meet with the palm of your hand and they should pop right open. Be careful and hold those shakers tight, they can get slippery.
- Give it a quick taste before you pour into your glass, as this is your last chance to adjust the flavour.
- If you don’t have a shaker to hand, here are some perfectly good substitutes for shakers: Kilner jar, jam jar, blender (adding two ice cubes per drink can simulate a shake, great when making multiple cocktails at home), protein shaker, or even a bowl and whisk.
Ladies and gentlemen, reach for your shaker, fill the ice-maker – and prepare to get your London Cocktail Club House Party freak on…
And if you like what snippet we’ve featured here, make sure you go buy the book for more secrets and recipes.