Cocktail Theory and Philosophy

Thinking deeply about Cocktails

Spirit Quality

There is an assumption that to make top quality cocktails you need to use top quality ingredients.  In general this is true, and there are several areas in which you should never compromise on quality.  Using freshly squeezed lemon/lime juice over any alternatives is...

To Shake or not to Shake?

Without a doubt, shaking is the primary technique used to make cocktails in the modern era.  The standard method we automatically apply.  True, there are plenty of other techniques and methods used to mix drinks.  But whenever we choose not to shake a cocktail, we...

Ice and the Equilibrium of Temperature

If I were to ask you "What is the most important of all cocktail ingredients?"  You might answer gin, or whiskey.  Or perhaps sugar or lemon juice.  Or even Bitters.  But the real answer is ice. Without ice we can't make cocktails.  It really is as simple as that.  So...

Mixing Theory

This post is a companion to the Mixing Methods post.  That one deals with the practical aspects of the various methods we use to make cocktails.  This one deals with the theory and the science underpinning those methods.  Both start with a single question: When we mix...

Taste Concept: Sweet and Sour

Throughout this blog a great deal of attention has been paid to the concepts of Sweet and Sour.  In my Axes of Taste model I have generally portrayed them as opposites on a single scale.  A scale running from sugar syrup on one extreme to lemon/lime juice on the...

Cocktail Priorities

In an ideal world all our cocktails would be perfect.  They would look great and taste amazing.  Be cheap, quick and easy to make.  And making a dozen would be no harder than making one. Back in the real world this idealized scenario isn't common.  Devoting time and...

Sweet vs Dry: The Impact of Vermouth

Sweet? Sugar is rare in nature, yet is a vital part of our diet.  So we humans evolved a sensitive taste for the sweet stuff.  In previous posts I have talked at length about the concepts of sweetness, sourness, and how the two can be balanced in cocktails. In fact,...

Cocktail Sex Appeal

Some cocktails have serious sex appeal.  They've got the looks.  They've got the name.  And they've got it where it counts.  Everyone wants a piece of them. What's so special about them? It's a fun topic to banter about.  But it's also important on a more serious note...

Cocktail Recipe Styles

Anyone performing even casual research into cocktails will quickly encounter different cocktail recipe styles.  I'm not just talking about different recipes for the same cocktail.  I'm talking about the style they are presented in. Some of these styles are meticulous...

Cocktail Naming Conventions

What's in a name? The names we use for cocktails can be quite confusing when you first approach the subject.  Most people assume that there must be some complicated cocktail naming conventions known only to master bartenders.  Trade secrets not passed on to those...

The Balance of Sour

The Balance of Sour A significant majority of cocktails rely on the correct Balance of Sour for their success.  That is, having the right balance between Sweet and Sour so that the other flavours in the cocktail reach their full potential. What this balance is may...

The Essence of Sour

 The Essence of Sour This post is in some ways a counterpoint to the post on sugar syrup being the essence of sweetness.  Here we're going to talk about lime and especially lemon juice - the essence of sour. But first we're going to need to talk about our taste for...