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A Spontaneous Libation for your Consideration

From the Knowledge Vault

Craft Cocktail Making: Theory and Structure of Acidity

The dividing line between a cocktail enthusiast and a craft cocktail aficionado is knowledge. Anyone can enjoy a cocktail, and with enough time spent at or behind a bar, attain a good enough working knowledge of brands and flavors of alcohol. Some of these people go on to create a new cocktail, usually starting with a common drink or ratio of spirits to other ingredients and tweaking them to make something pleasant.

Alas, this approach lacks repeatability in creating quality craft cocktails. Craft cocktails are not dump buckets for every neon colored, super sweet liqueur that your distributor is pushing. And they are not made to mask the flavor of alcohol, but to support and sustain it.

Combinations that should work based on the flavors of the components often fail to impress in the glass due to a lack of understanding of those same component's structural elements. Skilled mixologists construct cocktails from some basic building blocks: alcohol, sugar, acidity, and bitterness. A thorough understand of these primary elements can help craft cocktail designers make great drinks with a minimum of waste and trial and error.

Acidity

The cocktail dates back to the earliest parts of the 19th century. The original contained no acidic agents – just a simple mix of spirit, sugar, water, and bitters. But by 1862, Jerry Thomas had entire sections for Sours, Fixes, and Daisies, all of which featured acidity prominently. Certainly, the use of spirit-plus-acidity dates back to the 18th century Punch, which were spirit, water, lemon and sugar, with some other ingredients added for flavoring.

Recent Additions

  • Glowing Green — Pisco, Suze, Ancho Reyes chile liqueur, Blue Curaçao, Orange bitters
  • Gilded Paloma — Tequila, Soda water, Grapefruit juice, Pineapple juice, Lime juice, Cinnamon syrup, Grapefruit peel
  • Pickwick Club — Pineapple rum, Overproof rum, Allspice Dram, Bitters, Absinthe, Passion fruit syrup, Vanilla syrup, Orange peel
  • Mignon — Gin, Rye, Cassis, Ancho Reyes chile liqueur, Orange bitters, Islay Scotch, Orange
  • Chipmunk — Old Tom Gin, Ginger liqueur, Simple syrup, Lime juice

Recent Discussion

  • Re Spanish Shawl, 21 hours ago drdug commented:

    This is a perennial favorite. I’m able to get Atxa, a Spanish dry vermouth locally. Tried to edit the recipe but this brand wasn’t recognized and wouldn’t save. Agree with other commentators the Hendricks is my favorite gin for this cocktail!

  • Re Benediction, 1 day ago drinkingandthinking commented:

    Nice herbal combo that worked well with Spanish brandy

  • Re The Inocencio, 1 day ago shadowkirby commented:

    A little sweet - would possibly omit the simple. Very vegetal, good drink for spring.

  • Re The St-Rita, 3 days ago drinkingandthinking commented:

    uninspired elderflower margarita with poor proportions

  • Re Jasmine, 4 days ago smparkes commented:

    Went with the more forward version from SE and then added a bit of soda ... for a very hot day. :-)