The word ‘trend’ generally hits my ear as a pejorative, because most trends are nothing more than flash-in-the-pan ideas or approaches that a few people label as cool, which are swept away as quickly as they came in.
Craft cocktails are all the rage now, and have been for a couple of years - I am hopeful that this is not simply a trend but a movement to creating better alcoholic beverages. When fresh ingredients are utilized the finished product is much improved. Artisanal cocktails are the future of mixology.
So, what is the hand-crafted cocktail movement all about? It involves the use of fresh ingredients, homemade mixers and premium liquors. Consumers want to know what is being added to their cocktails just as they do their food.
Below are three bar staples you should be making and not buying. This way, you know exactly what is going into your drink.
This is an ingredient list of a very popular Sweet and Sour Mix:
WATER, TOMATO CONCENTRATE, VINEGAR, HIGH FRUCTOSE CORN SYRUP, SEA SALT, SALT, SPICES, ONION POWDER, LEMON JUICE CONCENTRATE, PAPRIKA, HYDROLYZED CORN PROTEIN, ASCORBIC ACID (TO MAINTAIN COLOR), DISODIUM INOSINATE, DISODIUM GUANYLATE, SUGAR, GARLIC POWDER, AUTOLYZED YEAST EXTRACT, MALIC ACID, CARAMEL COLOR, NATURAL FLAVORS, MOLASSES, DEXTROSE, XANTHAN GUM, CITRIC ACID.
Compare that to the four ingredients of homemade sweet and sour mix: Water, sugar, lemon-juice and lime-juice.
DIY cocktail mixers are the clear winner.
Homemade Sour Mix
1 cup sugar
1 cup water
2 cups fresh lemon and lime juice (strain out the pulp)
First, combine the water and sugar in a small pot and simmer until the sugar completely dissolves. Turn down the heat and add the lemon and lime juice. Remove from heat and let the mixture cook before straining it a final time into an airtight glass container.
Keeps for a minimum of two weeks in the refrigerator. You do not have to refrigerate more syrups, but I like to when there is a high content of fresh ingredients, so it lasts a little bit longer.
Homemade Simple Syrup
Because it is difficult to dissolve sugar in cold liquid, bartenders use a sugar solution called simple syrup. It is easy to prepare and keeps 2 months or longer in the refrigerator.
Makes approximately about 4 -1/2 cups
3 cups sugar
2-1/2 cups water
1. Add the sugar and water to a medium-sized saucepan. Stirring occasionally, bring the mixture to a boil over a medium-high heat. Lower the heat a bit, keeping the mixture at a low boil for five 5 minutes.
2. Turn off the heat, and let the syrup cool completely cool in the pan. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Makes approximately 4 cups
4 cups unsweetened pomegranate juice (be sure you have the kind with no sugar)
1 pint fresh raspberries
4 cups granulated sugar
2 ounces orange flower water
1. Add the pomegranate juice and raspberries to a large saucepan on the stove, raising the heat to high. Heat for 15 minutes.
2. Let the mixture stay at a steady boil, stirring occasionally, 15 minutes longer, reducing the heat if needed to prevent burning.
3. Slowly stir in the sugar, stirring continuously. When the sugar is completely dissolved, remove the pan from the heat and stir in the orange flower water.
4. Let cool, and strain into bottles. Refrigerate in an airtight container for up to 1 month.
Once you start down the path to more natural ingredients for your cocktails, there is no looking back.