What is Mixology?
We define the art of mixology as the study or skill of inventing, preparing and serving mixed drinks, or cocktails. All mixologists are bartenders, but not all bartenders are mixologists. In our eyes, a mixologist is someone who has a passion for the art of drink making and therefore strives to learn not just how each individual cocktail, or mocktail, is made but also why it is made in that way, garnished with this particular commodity and mixed using this technique rather than another. A mixologist will be no stranger to a wide range of cocktail accessories necessary to ply his or her trade.
The beauty of mixology lies in the fact almost anyone can become a mixologist at any time, so long as they are dedicated to mastering the skill and studying the art of mixing different tastes and flavours to make a classic cocktail or perhaps even a brand new drink altogether!
BEAUMONT’S ‘TOP TIPS’ FOR ANY BUDDING MIXOLOGIST
- Something bitter with something sweet
There are also your cocktail, or drink mixing basic rules. One basic rule in particular provides a template for how most cocktails are made. There are exceptions, however this is a good rule of thumb for making or inventing any cocktail. We shall refer to this as Rule No.1.
Rule No.1: A base spirit (such as vodka, gin, or rum), something bitter or sour and finally something sweet to balance it out. One of the all time classic cocktails, the Daiquiri, is a great way to test out this rule and begin to hone your skills as a mixologist. Quite simply a Daiquiri is rum, lime juice, and sugar syrup or gomme. Using this rule and, this cocktail as your basic formula, you can start to substitute in different ingredients, experimenting with the amalgamation of different tastes and flavours. The balance of bitter and sweet is the most important aspect to always keep in mind when creating or making a cocktail.
- Master the Fundamentals
The fundamentals of mixology are a lot like cooking, and you will see the similarities here in our top tips. Similar to cooking, first and foremost the most important thing in any mixed drink are the quality of the ingredients or cocktail components as they are sometimes referred to in the industry. Good quality components, is the first step towards a top quality cocktail. A good quality fruit puree, fresh fruit juice, fresh herbs that haven’t wilted and fresh garnishes.
- Never underestimate the power of bubbles
Every good, budding mixologist will have a few cocktail creations that perhaps are too strong in flavour or may not be balanced the way you had intended. If this is the case, do not fear! Soda water and Champagne are on hand. These fantastic carbonated drinks are a great way to ‘lengthen’ a drink easing the overpowering strong flavours and helping to bring balance to the palette of flavours in the cocktail. The effervescence of Champagne provides a delightful ‘crispness’ to any mixed drink and also adds to the aesthetics of the drink, leaving it looking brighter and more vibrant and therefore more appealing.
The Reinvention of the Cocktail
1860 saw the birth of the ‘modern bar’ and the publishing of perhaps the book that invented cocktails:How to Mix Drinks or the Bon Vivant’s Companion. Since then the cocktail has been through many different highs and lows, from the Golden Age of cocktail making, to Prohibition, the age of the Hiball and now what is being referred to as the Cocktail Renaissance. As Cocktails have become more fashionable in society over the last 15 years, the importance of the cocktail to the bar, restaurant, the leisure and hospitality industry is clear to see.
More and more establishments are starting to offer a range of cocktails, even if it is a very basic range, as there is certainly a demand to meet. The recent rise of ‘Craft Cocktails’ and ‘Molecular Mixology’ stands testament to the desire from people to come up with something new and fresh for an industry that is growing year on year. Craft Cocktails put an emphasis on fresh ingredients and represent a time when bartenders were alchemists, educated professionals who put their reputation up with every cocktail they served. Whereas ‘Molecular Mixology’ approaches drink mixing from an entirely scientific perspective, introducing tools and ingredients more at home in a laboratory than a back bar, such as liquid nitrogen, emulsifying chemicals, and high end blenders.
The Traditional Toolkit
Although ‘Molecular Mixology’ uses all manner of weird and wonderful implements, your traditional mixologists will opt for the more recognised cocktail toolkit. But what is so important about the cocktail toolkit? Surely I can just use any old piece of kitchen equipment to put my next cocktail together? Not exactly. From thimbles and jiggers to muddlers and cocktail shakers, each and every tool is very important in a mixologist’s armoury. Most cocktail tools that you will find today have been engineered over many years to perform their job perfectly, the Tom Dyer Professional Speed Pourer is a prime example of this, which allows for extremely accurate and consistent free pouring. Without the full toolkit you will find it hard to replicate recipes, ensure precision in your use of ingredients and achieve the balance in flavour and taste, which every mixologist should be striving for.
A Starter for Ten
Now you understand some of the key rules that underpin mixology and have your cocktail toolkit you are ready to go! Here is a cocktail recipe to test out your new knowledge:
The Caribbean Cruise
- Take your cocktail tin or Boston Can and fill it up ¾ of the way with cubed ice.
- Now using your jigger measure 25 ml of Coconut Flavoured Rum
- Then add 25 ml of Golden Rum
- Add 50 ml of Pineapple Juice
- Attach your lid or Boston Glass and shake vigorously for 35 seconds.
- Remove the lid or Boston Glass and place your cocktail strainer on top of your cocktail tin.
- Fill a hiball glass with ice and pour your cocktail, passing through the single strainer, into the glass.
- Add a dash of Grenadine Syrup and garnish with a couple of Pineapple Leaves or a wedge of fresh Pineapple.