Let's try some sweet and sour...
This week it’s over to the Daiquiri, which is quite a different sort of cocktail compared to the the Martini of last week. Daiquiris are refreshing, involving a mixture of something sweet added to the spirit and citrus. This allows for the alcohol 'hit' to be toned down a little bit compared to last week’s Martinis.
Originally, the daiquiri is seen as a showcase for rum - but as you are hopefully seeing, by knowing a cocktail template, this awareness allows for us to substitute the main spirit and constituents with other options to create variation and originality.
Making cocktails using a template means
the ingredients fit together
An original daiquiri recipe goes along the line of:
2 measures of rum
¾ measure of fresh lime juice
¾ measure of simple syrup
1 x Lime wedge garnish
Different rums can be used to make up the “2 measures” bit of the recipe and this allows for a vast array of variations on the theme. In some ways it’s a 'sweet and sour' cocktail - but the secret appears to lie in the ability to balance the two. Too much citrus - especially lime - will result in a very tart drink but too much sugar will flood the glass with a sickly sweet option that is equally unbalanced.
Rum is a spirit that comes in a cast array of forms - Spanish / English / Jamaican / French options go to show the variety out there. There is also the light rums through to the aged rums. What a spectrum!
Gin can be used within this recipe to create options and it will come as no surprise that I will be doing some gin work on the recipes we will be looking at on this week’s videos. Before we do that though - let’s talk a little about the citrus element.
Lets stick with a simple syrup shall we. My interest wanes when “posh” syrups are talked about in cocktail recipes. Whilst some of these are awesome (I am sure) I tend to recommend a simple syrup for most people until such time as the fascination with cocktails digs in, and then some of the more complex options can be entertained.
Essentially, mix equal weights of sugar with water (250mg of both) but make sure that the sugar crystals are completely dissolved before putting into the fridge to cool down the solution. Caster sugar / Demerara for a bit of adventurousness are good to try, but for a low carb option try erythritol (but beware - it takes AGES to dissolve).
Ask a group of three or four people to squeeze a lemon or a lime and then compare the results and the chances are that you will be hit with three or four different tasting fruit juices. This comes down to the extent to which the white pith is involved in the juicing. The thick outer skin houses the flavour in the oil that is held within. Overzealous squeezing or juicing forces the process to squeeze the white and you will release the bitterness that is housed in the pith into the lovely fruit juices.
An essential component - the citrus
If you peel a citrus fruit thinly, try taking as close up a picture with a smartphone that you can manage and then zoom in. Sometimes you can see the pores that lead to small collections of citrus oils that we recognise as the characteristic fruit flavour. Sometimes we can see a small mist come away at the time of peeling too - this is where the flavour lies.
The skin of a citrus fruit varies in thickness. Compare kumquats to mandarin oranges to grapefruits. This sees a citrus fruit surface that can be eaten whole (kumquat), to a peel that can be fully used to express oil (mandarin orange) to the thickly pithed grapefruit that demands careful peeling lest the bitterness take over too easily.
Here at The Herbal Gin Company we fell foul of this a month or two ago when peeling our Seville oranges. We took marginally too much off the skin and started to involve the white pith and it showed. Not in the first part of the still collection but as we got to the end of the “hearts” collection, the bitterness came through. This resulted in our rectifying the distilled spirit to strip out the alcohol and start again. We learned from our mistake and the result was fabulous, and manifest at the end of the “hearts” collection when the spirit (78.1 %ABV by the way!!) Tasted awesome throughout the process.
Another word of warning - watch out for seeds especially if muddling whilst making the cocktail of your dreams. Any citrus seed that is muddled, allows for a bitterness to be released that has a similarly devastating effect on the cocktail.
If you have a citrus wheel or slice in your drink (cocktail or otherwise) also be aware that if left too long, the bitterness will start to seep out. (Rarely is this an issue for me - as I subscribe to the school of thought that recommends drinking a cocktail “whilst it’s still laughing at you”…!
The inner ear - essential for balance
... but not much use in a cocktail !!
To check out your preferences - why not try an experiment…?
2 measures rum
¾ measure lime juice
¾ measure syrup
Less sweet option
2 measures rum
¾ measure lime juice
½ measure syrup
Citrus strong option
2 measures rum
1 measure lime juice
¾ measure syrup
(Hint - although these recipes make a full size option - make half measures as it’s the flavour / taste you’re looking to try out here and not your ability to bounce yourself off the floor….
It’s all in the detail…
Making a Martini was described last week as being a bit like a bartender’s resumé. The daiquiri is all about detail and so tends to be the cocktail bars demand for attention to detail.
Not only does this drink require ratios to be balanced but it appears that shaking the cocktail is just as important.
but it’s especially all in the ice…
OK so yes - all the ingredients are all in the ice shaker but we MUST pay attention to our ice.
Big ice - from a freezer - is fab. One big bit, nothing to collide with inside the shaker and it creates a lot of air pockets (a daiquiri needs a thin layer of air bubbles on the top). Long shake - gets it really cold (doh!)
Now THIS is big ice...!
1 inch ice cubes - slightly less time for shaking as the cubes will start to chip mini-ice shards off each other, which will then melt and dilute the drink. This tends to demand a double strain if demanding a perfect daiquiri - use the Hawthorne strainer and pour into a conical strainer and this will remove debris.
Rubbish ice - Mmmm I’ve been using this very often in the past but the more I read the more I want to look after the expensive spirit(s) that I’m mixing. I’ll try not to use this but if that’s what is available, then that is what is available! (LOTS of ice of this calibre and as a rule of thumb if you're stuck with the rubbish stuff - double the ice and halve the shaking time!)
So what else can we do to think creatively within the daiquiri family….
Okay so we have tried different balances (see above) between constituents.
Then there’s the variations on the spirit using gin (e.g. the Bee’s Knees - see video) - whisky - cognac - absinthe etc.
Same ratios of ingredients but serve over crushed ice - and you have a Mojito, but change things slightly and a Mai Tai’s on the table. However, start to introduce seltzer (or soda to you and me) and suddenly there’s a Tom Collins (sparkling stuff plus spirit + syrup + citrus + garnish = a familiar recipe)!
Don’t forget a Moscow Mule - where we bring vodka into the equation (- sparkling stuff plus vodka + Ginger syrup + lime juice = the same equation)…!!!
What about a Mojito too. Rum / lime juice / syrup / soda water / mint / crushed ice…
My particular favourite is a French 75
1 measure the Herbal Gin Company’s Mediterranean Lemon gin
½ measure lemon juice
½ ounce simple syrup
….familiar so far….???
Then, after shaking, add 4 measures of dry sparkling wine.
So instead of a Tom Collins (daiquiri plus soda) we see the soda being replaced but the daiquiri bit stays the same!
However, as I can rarely afford the champagne that the classic recipe suggests (what - drink champagne anyway other than on its own - sacrilege!). So I tend to use Prosecco. Okay, okay the bubbles are a different size and it tastes different etc but so what - I like it!
Can you call it a French 75 then if we are using an Italian wine within...? Nope, so I’m going to have some fun and call it a Garibaldi 1860.
Garibaldi was born in Nice but was a hero of the Italian Risorgimento (the movement that led to the unification of Italy as we know it).
Prosecco - The Venetians are especially
proud of their prosecco!
So that explains the Garibaldi bit - a French (champagne) born Dude who did stuff for Italy (prosecco). The 1860 bit is because that is when he took a 1000 soldiers and invaded Sicily, (brave guy because they had a stronger army & navy) and this all helped to form the passage for the foundation of Italy as it is today. Yawn...
So this is where the real template kicks in for most of us. I’m developing a taste for a well made martini and the variations - but it’s alcohol heavy.So I love the balance of a daiquiri and all the sibling members of the daiquiri family (whether it’s a Gin Gin Mule or a Moscow mule for that matter, a Mai Tai, a Garibaldi 1860 or a Tom Collins).
Regardless, I hope that this article has helped to clarify an understanding for this one of the six basic recipe templates for cocktails.
Again, I cannot recommend the book called Cocktail Codex (Day, Fauchald and Kaplan) enough. It is with great deference that I attribute to them, all the clever thinking about the templates discussed and hasten to advise that I am a mere messenger. However, I do hope that my writing this week has helped to raise further awareness of “the anatomy of a cocktail”.