Tuesday, March 20, 2012

The Golden Ratio: A Cocktail Method

Photo by Juan Barahona, JBlaze B on flickr
A while back, I talked about a method for devising your own cocktails, the Mr. Potato-Head method. Truth be told, most of the time when I'm fooling around with mixology, I use what I call the ratio method. For a long time, I made Manhattans with the ratio 3 parts bourbon to 2 parts sweet vermouth to 1 part Cointreau. As I started occasionally making margaritas, I made them with 3 parts tequila to 2 parts lime juice to 1 part Cointreau. Noticing the similarity, I came up with a general rule. New beverages can be made tasty by mixing three parts of a base spirit with two parts of a blender and 1 part of a flavoring agent.

Let me explain. I take it you are all familiar with the idea of a base spirit. This is your tequila or whiskey or rum, or whatever. According to the ratio method, this is what defines your drink. The flavoring agent is what characterizes your drink. To explain what I mean, let me use hobos as an example. In this metaphor, 'hobo' is your base spirit. But there are lots of different kinds of hobos. There are drunk hobos, sleepy hobos, clever hobos, shifty hobos, etc. The drunk, sleepy, clever, or shifty? That's your  flavoring agent. Both of the drinks above use Cointreau as their flavoring agent, but you can use lots of different things. Amaros, like Averna or Cardamaro, make good flavoring agents. If you're making a Dirty Martini, which I recommend against, the olive brine would be your flavoring agent. 

Finally, we have the 'blender'. This is the portion of the drink that brings it all together, that 'blends' the base spirit and the flavoring agent. Very often, it's some variety of vermouth, but it can be lime or lemon juice as well, anything that helps combine the diverse ingredients together. Of course, you can use different ratios as well. If you're using a strongly flavored blender, you could go with 3:1:1. If you want to give less prominence to the base spirit, you could go with 2:1:1. Experimentation is key! There's recipe for a really tasty margarita after the jump.

1.5 oz Resposado Tequila
1 oz Lime Juice
.5 oz Cointreau
1/2 an egg white
Combine and shake vigously.

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