Deep Glamour's week of food ends with a guest post from The Liquid Muse*. A well-made cocktail is a touch of luxury at any time, and taking the time to master the basics pays off handsomely at happy hour.
When creating a new drink recipe –
with or without alcohol, I take to the kitchen. Chopping fruits
and muddling herbs can be messy business, so it’s good to have a sink
handy. Not to mention a fridge stocked with fresh, organic produce,
and a stovetop for cooking up a batch of simple syrup.
What is simple syrup, you ask? Well, I’m glad you did because it is an integral ingredient in many cocktails. It is a sweetening agent. Simple syrup is essentially ‘sugar water.’ Some people make their simple syrups with a 1:1 ratio (1 part sugar to 1 part water). Personally, I prefer a 2:1 ratio (2 parts sugar to 1 part water) because the syrup is a little thicker and gives the drink a bit more texture. Just remember to go easy on the quantity you use – more than 1 ounce is usually too much!
Basic instructions to make simple syrup:
Dissolve 2 cups of sugar into 1 cup of
water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil, stirring constantly.
Once bubbling, reduce heat, let simmer for a couple of minutes.
Then cool and store in a jar in the refrigerator.
Now, here is the fun thing about creating
syrups – it is really easy to get creative and bring extra flavor
and pizzazz to your cocktails by sprucing up the syrup. For example,
make ginger-infused simple syrup by following the recipe above, but
add a 1” long piece of peeled fresh ginger for extra zing. Want
to make rose-infused simple syrup? Go to a Middle Eastern market
or gourmet store and buy potable rose water. Use that instead
of plain water in the simple syrup recipe, and voila – a lovely smelling
and tasting addition to a champagne cocktail or vodka martini.
Take things one-step further and brew
some fresh herbal tea… peppermint, for example. Now use 1/2
cup of that with 1 cup of sugar and your Mint Julep can have an extra
“je ne sais crois” on Derby Day. Fruit flavored herbal teas
(lemon, orange, raspberry) are interesting to experiment with, too.
Recently, I’ve started on wine syrups. Yep, the result of 1/2 cup of Cabernet Sauvignon and 1 cup of sugar had magical results in one of my latest cocktail creations. (Check The Liquid Muse in April to see a DIY video of that drink called the Ginger Sun.) My next forays in oenological adventures will be with Chardonnay and Moscatel varietals.
The point I’m trying to make is that a great cocktail can only be as interesting as what you put in it. So put on your thinking cap and have fun. The cocktail hour can start at any time of the day, in any room of the house – particularly the kitchen – and render sweet satisfaction.
*Who is The Liquid Muse? With over 17 years of experience in the hospitality industry, lifestyle writer and mixologist Natalie Bovis-Nelsen keeps an eye on drink trends around the world. She designs signature cocktails for celebrity-studded events, teaches cocktail classes around the U.S. and has shaken-and-stirred audiences on TV and radio shows. Natalie consults for beverage companies, and is a pioneer in bringing high-end mixology philosophies to nonalcoholic cocktails, too.
Her highly acclaimed book Preggatinis: Mixology for the Mom-to-be features more than 75 of her original recipes designed with the fun-loving preggie party girl in mind, and was named one of about.com’s top ten cocktail books of 2008.