Mixed Drinks “Classes” from best to worse
It has been some time... my computer broke down in the pandemic and I went into a dormant hibernation- then bars opened up again and understaffed and overworked we had quite busy couple of months until the festive season - then again- COVID-19 stroke again - bars are again closed - and I am exercising the cruel king duty update my blog on my iPad.
Let’s get to the topic: what do I mean with mixed drinks classes? Well- it is not a reasonably technical classification, but a lose grouping of drinks - and how I am looking at them. Is it a personal rating? Yes! But does it has some merits? For sure - I try not only to be reasonable, but also explain my grading.
Why this topic now? Because here is a growing interest into simplistic and adolescent drinks - I have acknowledged it online as well as in the bar. Drinks like “P*rnstar Martinis”, Lychee’tinis and Apple’tinis and so on are coming back in focus...
Is this bad - well, let’s judge the trend after my little top to bottom list!
10/10 - 07/10 Classic Cocktails which ingredients are highlighting the character of the spirit.
We are talking Old Fashioned here (...you realized what I did here?) - maybe a Classic Martini Cocktail. The range of the rating depends certainly of the respective recipe, but even more so on the quality of spirit used. But one thing is clear, these drinks are not beginner drinks, but are as sophisticated as they get.
09/10 - 06/10 Multi-Protagonist Cocktails like Aperitivos
Look, we can argue about this forever, and you cannot argue about taste (or can you?), but a Will Smith will never reach the level of Marlon Brando... Aperitivos are cool. They are complex. They have a purpose - but can even stand on their own on other occasions. They are slightly overhyped, but have on the other side deserved their status.
08/10 - 06/10 Classic Sours & so called New Orleans Sours
These drinks are more modified, but still heavily reliant on the original base. There is a caveat though- sours mixed with heavily processed and unnatural tasting liqueurs (looking at Midori and Co.) would definitely a deserve a much lower rating. The funny thing is, that New Orléans Sours (Classic Medium Cocktails) can often be seen as more sophisticated as the straight forward Classic Sours. But there is nothing such as the necessity to choose between Whiskey Sour and Margarita - both types are great in their very own, when they are made adequately!
07/10 - 05/10 Classic Longdrinks like Highballs, Collinses, Mojitos
A good Tom Collins (we can also add here a Gin Fizz as well) can be a godsend on a warm day. And a well prepared Mojitos (which is still not as common as I would wish) is good as well. Or a Gin & Tonic... But let’s face it, these drinks are satisfying and have their place - but they‘re not the final answer to complexity. Drinking them though doesn’t brand you as total moron!
03/10 to 05/10 Exotic Drinks, Tiki, Sweet Cocktails
Oh boy- I will get a lot of criticism for this one - but let’s be honest here - a Tiki drink is never really sophisticated. Probably consumers will find their complexity after they had too much of the often “over-boozed” concoctions. Balance and mindfulness is getting lost, when too many ingredients, too sweet ingredients (without counterbalance) are used. And often we are rather looking at liquid (and boozy) desserts than on liquid culinary creations. However all Tiki-era created drinks are not equally poor - the classic (first original) Mai Tai for example is rather a Sour with complications - and would deserve to be added to the sours... by the way - it hasn’t been a typo, that in above ratings I started first with the higher number, and within this category I started with the lower one - this just shows that many drinks in this exotic category are belonging with a rather lower rating!
01/10 to 04/10 Fruit driven / modified cocktails
We are finally coming to the “aroma’tinis” - a category which should have buried into the dark past of our craft. Your Lychee’tini, Apple’tini, Strawberry Mojito or P*rnstar Martini is living here! Besides, that these drinks are actively leading to the decay of drinks culture they have no complexity. Fruit can be an interesting tool to give a recipe another dimension - but it has to be used delicately with a reason - however the customers who are looking for these drinks don’t expect and don’t want subtlety. These people would like cheap sweet wine, no restaurant with reputation would sell!
You can call me a hater - and I certainly am one. Or an elitist (I heard that also a lot). But to preserve bar culture, we cannot bow to every trend and every taste.
In the pandemic I was a lot “soul-searching”. At Noir, I have been introducing pretty much the drinks I am standing for- but I was asking myself if I shouldn’t soften up more...? Some innovations like using natural (concentrated / processed) aromas came to my mind... but I ultimately feel bad about this. At this point I am not using any typical “flavored” liqueurs or commercial syrups in the bar - and I think we should be proud. But is it worth the hard work and complications?