Some time ago, I was at a party and had to step away from the kitchen for a bathroom break. Upon returning, I found a few guests who had tried — unsuccessfully — to mix a drink of their own creation. Apparently, it tasted off, so they added more ingredients. I don’t remember what went into the drink, but they used almost a little bit of everything they could find.

I recently started making my own ice cream, and I’ve started to realize that cocktails are a lot like ice cream. How many ice creams have more than three key flavors? The best ice creams, like good cocktails, showcase a few flavors with clarity.

Two weeks ago, I shared with you a recipe for a classic margarita that required only three ingredients: tequila, orange liqueur and lime juice. It did not include strawberries, coconuts, shaved ice or store-bought “sour mix.

The margarita is an example of the “sour” family of cocktails. All of these cocktails follow a simple formula of approximately two parts liquor, one part lemon or lime juice and one part simple syrup, orange liqueur or grenadine. The exact proportions are adjustable, but you get the general idea; There’s a base liquor that’s tempered with sweet and balanced with sour. It’s a simple ratio, and it works.

Many classics are sours. A gimlet, for example, is gin, lime juice and simple syrup, which is equal parts sugar and water. A whiskey sour is whiskey, lemon juice and honey. A daiquiri is rum, lime juice and syrup.

There’s a good reason to think about drinks in terms of ratios. First of all, you can scale your drink easily. Second, you start thinking about ingredients in proportion to each other, which means you start to think about how different flavors interact with each other. Finally, it’s easy to memorize drink recipes; an old-fashioned is 9:1 whiskey to sugar, for example.

Once you understand the simple sour, you can fiddle with it. Perhaps you want to add cranberry juice, but cranberry is sweet and tart, so you reduce both the sweet and the sour. (That’s how the cosmopolitan is made.) Eventually, you start to add more and more flavors, and the drink gets more and more complicated, but as long as you’re thinking carefully about the ratios every step of the way, you’re on solid ground. Start simple, and then complicate.

The Right Ratios

Cucumber Gimlet

Muddle 4-5 slices of cucumber in a cocktail shaker. Add gin, lime juice and simple syrup in a 2:1:1 ratio. Shake with ice and strain. Garnish with a slice of cucumber. It’s extremely refreshing and tastes like summer.

Boston Sour

Construct a whiskey sour (whiskey, lemon and honey or simple syrup) with your preferred ratio, and add one egg white. Shake with ice and strain. The frothed egg white gives the drink a light texture and a beautiful layer of white foam.

Jack Rose

Combine Laird’s Applejack, lime juice and grenadine (equal parts sugar and pomegranate juice, simmered) in an 8:3:3 ratio over ice. Shake and strain. This is a classic cocktail from the prohibition era that was nearly forgotten for decades — and my personal favorite.
Preston Mui is a senior in the College. BURLEITH BARTENDER appears every other Friday in the guide.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *