Perhaps one of the most difficult skills an aspiring cocktail maker can grasp is inspiration. Inspiration is the culmination of knowledge, skill and passion, and it only comes about through an understanding of ingredients, technique, and cocktail theory. There’s nothing more exciting and terrifying than standing in front of a bar with an empty glass and combining ingredients in a new and innovative way to make a satisfying cocktail. Therefore, you should be encouraged to steal from those that came before. Please note I’m not referring to outright theft of drinks, but using what is available to create new, interesting cocktails.
The difficulty lies in that innovation is the synthesis of knowledge. Knowledge and the ability to understand its component parts must be the basis of innovation, which means that a well stocked bar comes first. Obviously, if ingredients aren’t available, you’re not going to be able to make a cocktail with them. In addition to a well stocked bar, familiarity with each bottle is immensely helpful. Knowing that Calvados tastes like apples, spirit and woody notes and a hidden dimension of ‘apple tree’ or that Cynar is made from artichokes and yet tastes like honey and tobacco and a slight sulfury bitterness makes pairing ingredients that might have disparate primary flavors but complimentary secondary flavors easy. The understanding that Campari plus lemon equals pink grapefruit drives the Jasmine. This is not easily formalized. Writing tasting notes on cocktail ingredients can be useful at first, but at some point they become a crutch and inhibit beauty and the sudden strike of inspiration.
"I said GodDAMN! Goddamn..." -Mia Wallace
This is a real gem. Lacking a T&T rum in my quiver, I used Hamilton 86 Demerara, and oh man. This'll be the one to take the "edge off" after a long day of selling dinettes and bar stools. No matter your toil, I highly recommend suppressing your woes with this brilliant cocktail. Sláinte!