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A Spontaneous Libation for your Consideration

From the Knowledge Vault

Craft Cocktail Making: Theory and Structure of Bitterness

So far we’ve investigated the role that acidity and sugar play in the creation of craft cocktails. While sugar predates acidity in cocktail history, these building blocks can be thought of as a pair – acidity and sugar directly oppose each other. When sugar overpowers acidity, drinks become cloying and heavy. With the reverse, drinks are tart, thin, and unpleasant. It is only when sweetness and acidity balance each other that a cocktail takes on a savory deliciousness that I call tension.

The sweet-sour balance is not the only way to create a craft cocktail. Before the invention of the sour family, cocktails were merely spirit, sugar, water and bitters. This category of drinks, now best exemplified by the Old Fashioned derives their deliciousness through the mitigating effects of sugar on the bitterness of wood-aged spirits and bitters.

The previous articles have stayed clear of any serious chemistry. Unfortunately, bitter and alcohol have a lot going on that needs some explanations, and chemistry provides the language. [editor: Nerd warning. Suck it up.]

Recent Additions

  • Macy's Parade — Apple brandy, Rye, Cynar, Bitters, Cranberry syrup, Cherry
  • Puritan's Vice — Gin, Becherovka, Soda water, Lemon juice, Cranberry syrup, Simple syrup, Orange peel
  • Fist Bump — Aquavit, Cappelletti Aperitivo, Crème de Banane, Lemon juice, Cinnamon syrup, Lemon peel
  • Chatham Cocktail — Champagne, Aromatized wine, Fino sherry, Orange liqueur, Lemon juice, Simple syrup, Salt, Grapefruit peel
  • Mai T-Day — Rum, Curaçao, Allspice Dram, Lemon juice, Simple syrup, Star anise

Recent Discussion

  • Re Northern Lights (David Delaney Jr.), 1 day 8 hours ago PromBox commented:

    ‘French 75’ with cranberry. Lime juice mixes better with the sour cran than the lemon imo. We used a 50/50 mix with a Freixenet cava. Be sure to double strain.

  • Re Rational Thought, 3 days 8 hours ago Zachary Pearson commented:

    I've always thought that the PF Curacao tasted like baby aspirin. Thanks, Zachary

  • Re Rational Thought, 4 days 20 hours ago bvankammen commented:

    Good use of the pear, which comes through in the right amount. I did not like the contribution of the curacao as much, which gave the drink a "Smarties" taste. Overall it's an extremely fruity cocktail. Not bad, but also just forgettable.

  • Re A Forest, 5 days 18 hours ago Craig E commented:

    @noksagt You are correct, an email with the OP confirmed "author's original creation" is right.
    I'll probably stir this rather than shake when I try it. Cheers!

  • Re A Forest, 5 days 19 hours ago laerm commented:

    Hi all –

    Regarding a question in the comments here: my allspice dram and CdV were homemade so that may explain the surprising translucence of this drink.