Mixing the perfect drink is an art. As Rome wasn’t built in a day, it does take some practice. You are in luck, because your horizons are about to be broadened. Much like becoming a good chef, mixing a good drink is about understanding flavors and how they react and blend, as well as what ratios are needed. So, here are some tips to make your July 4th bash epic.
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In order to help with your quest to become a better bartender, we have enlisted the help of one of the very best. His name is Frank Bowen. Bowen has been masterfully mixing adult beverages for over 30 years. He is not just a pourer of drinks, rather, he is a master of his craft. Always in high demand, over the years he has done many private parties for events such as the Golden Globes, Oscars and Emmys. He regularly tends bar at the Island Hotel in Newport Beach, but if your party grows to more than you can handle, Frank is always available for hire.
Stocking Your Bar
Now that you’ve decided to up your bartending game, the big question is, which liquors should you have on hand? Rather than trying to randomly pick from the hundreds of bottle one may find available, here is Frank’s advice. Stock what he calls, “the four clears and the three browns.” The five clears are; vodka, gin, rum tequila and triple sec. The three browns are; bourbon, whiskey and brandy. As far as the mixers go, you would want to have Coke, 7Up, sweet and sour, and margarita mix. These are the building blocks for most beverages. It is advisable to have some Amaretto on hand as well, as it provides a nice smooth sweetness to many beverages.
The Perfect Margarita
The margarita. That perfect blend of salty sweet and sour is always a crowd-pleaser. The real issue is consistency. We have all had a sub-par offering, as well as one so well-balanced it is as though the tequila and lime are playing a beautiful symphony. Since some people prefer sour over sweet, or vice versa, the key is to simply ask your guest which they prefer. A traditional margarita is made with margarita mix, tequila, triple sec and lime juice. For those who prefer sweet over sour, Mr. Bowen advises substituting 7-Up for lime juice. The result will be a sweeter, less sour cocktail. Of course, salt is optional. Also, the simple fact of the matter is, if you have all the ingredients for a good margarita, you also have all the ingredients for a good whiskey sour (provided you have whiskey).
What To Do With Gin
Gin caters to a very specific taste, so there is no real need to search for the magical Gin-based beverage. It is something which certain people like, while others don’t, but because of its very distinct flavor, it is not very versatile as far as mixed drinks go. Bowen says that when doing a party of 100 guests, he will only get about three requests for gin. He went on to say “To be honest with you, there is not a lot you can do with gin.” That said, keep it around, because there are people out there who really like it, and if they want it, it is an easy pour. They will probably want it either straight, or with tonic. That’s about it. Gin-lovers may be scarce, but are easy to please.
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The Mojito And Mai Tai Myth
These are two of the more curious offerings. The names sound like exotic tropical beverages, but the bottom line is, both offerings are for rather specific tastes. In Mr. Bowen’s experience, neither is very palatable, as far as mass consumption. Of course, you can eliminate the curiosity about the mojito by simply not having spearmint available at your bar. His advice for those seeking something tropical is to serve his variation of the Mai Tai. The standard Mai Tai is just two types of rum, lime juice and possibly a bit of sugar, whereas his is a palate-pleasing blend of pineapple juice, orange juice, rum and amaretto. His drink has the feel of a Mai Tai, but is sweeter and smoother. As you read the ingredients, you can almost taste it.
Serving Your Creative Side
Now that you have the basics, here is some advice for those who wish to go off script and possibly create their own tasty beverage. According to Mr. Bowen, once you pour your main mixer, everything else should be 1/2 of that. For example, if your main mixer is two ounces, everything else should be just one ounce. This way, the main mixer will remain the dominant flavor, while the others complement. Don’t be afraid to be creative; go ahead and float some amaretto on top of your margarita, you just might like it. This is just the beginning.