Having your own “signature” cocktail on the party menu this holiday season needn’t be overwhelming.
While beer and wine are must-haves to keep the party going, a signature cocktail can often set your party apart, as much as it can make a bar stand out. Creating a noteworthy signature cocktail requires the right balance of simplicity and flavours.
It is, of course, a dilemma for a bartender if he wants to follow the rules and recreate classic cocktail drinks, or if he wants to get creative with ingredients that will go on to define the signature drink of the bar. After all, the signature cocktail can set you apart from local bars and entice patrons to come back for another pour and perhaps another after that.
The process of creating that signature drink involves hours of experimenting with ingredients and spirits. As is with any creative process, bartending too takes patience, and practice. We went through hours of experimenting before settling on our house specialty drink, Stax Sling. This drink is inspired by the famous Singapore Sling, which was invented at the Raffles Hotel in Singapore. While experimenting with a classic drink, it is quite a responsibility to do justice to the original, and add a new dimension to the cocktail. The drink is originally made with lemon juice, gin, cherry brandy, pineapple juice and a dash of bitters.
The ingredients used in our drink are gin, freshly squeezed pineapple and orange juice, house made cherry syrup, lemon leaf, freshly squeezed lemon juice. These are mixed together and then shaken. It is then served in a tall glass perfumed with aromatic herb bitters and essential oils from fresh oranges (the oil from rind orange). It is then garnished with a slice of baked orange.
For those who are keen on experimenting with spirits, there are a few dos and don’ts that one can work with. It’s important to know your audience — understand your guest. Do they prefer light or dark spirits? Do they prefer fruits or herbs in their drink? Keep in mind the occasion — is this for a drink or for a date?
Pick one singular ingredient that will become the star of the drink. Make sure your ingredients are seasonal, so that it is easier to create a refreshing drink. Now that you have your ingredients in place, it may be tempting to overdo the process and use a lot of ingredients. But remember that the thumb role lies in simplicity. Lastly, choose a name that compliments the drink. Much to the Bard’s dismay, there is much in a name. Happy experimenting!
Pankaj Kumar is an assistant director for Food & Beverage at Hyatt Regency, Mumbai.