Skip to main content

Why you don't need two spirits to make good and complex cocktails

Picture via
It is not necessary to mix different spirits in cocktails.

Or let's be a bit more pragmatic - you should not mix different spirits in cocktails.

Some people would argue, that there are vintage recipes, which suggest to use 2 or sometimes even 3 and more different spirits (think about punches). And this is what this post is all about.

Spirits in the past, were very different as spirits today. Most rum, whiskey, gin (...) were far rougher, less refined than today. In this case, mixing two spirits together came handy- a rum, which tasted quite "rummy", but was also quite rough, really benefit out of a brandy with more refined notes.

Fortunately nowadays the picture has changed. Rums often have a finish, which can be described as "cognac-like". And most bars also have sufficient products to chose from. Hence the question is no more: how to make the drink palatable, but: which brand/product do I use, to accomplish the intended character.
Indeed most products are so well made, that I am arguing, that it is a minor offence to mix different distillates. Independently if a quality product is made artisan or rather made in larger volumes, it takes always a lot of knowledge and skills, often history, expertise etc. to end up with a sensory appealing beverage! Mixing two premium beverages almost always end up with a less impressive result.

Examples? Let's look at a "Between the Sheets".

Same proportions of Cognac, light rum and orange liqueur - with a bit of lemon or lime juice.

If you are following the link, you could read the explanation, what David Wondrich is giving for this drink - in a way, I could never express it. 
Most bars would make a Daiquiri with Bacardi or Havana Club white - both everything but stellar rums. Besides of that - it is a refreshing drink for sure, but it lacks the depth of drinks which are made with longer oak aged spirits. 
What could you do instead? Either way, you would go the way of a sidecar, but would use a lighter-bodied cognac (maybe Borderies cognac). Or (which would be rather my choice), you could use an aged rum, like Bacardi 8 anos (best value, for sure).

If we are looking a bit more thorough into the Between the Sheet - no 2 but 3 spirits are used: Brandy/cognac, rum and neutral grain spirit, which is the usual base of orange liqueur.  Reducing it to the orange liqueur and one of the other distillate, will "straighten out" the drink.

Some might argue, making this cocktail with aged rum, or with a specific cognac will not have the same result. My answer: exactly! No really: 
  1. Depending on which cognac, which rum and which orange liqueur you would use, you will end up with a different cocktail.
  2. You probably will end up with a much better tasting cocktail.
  3. Do you really need to make an "authentic" Between the Sheets?
As always it comes down to your own philosophy. You do have one? Don't you?


Popular posts from this blog

How to use citric acid - and why you might not want to use it anyway!

To be honest, I shied away of this topic, because I think, people can misinterpret this - big time.

I don't want to be part of the problem - I want to be part of the solution! But when Chris, over at A Bar Above discussed this subject- I literally could not resist to join into "the discussion".

Here is the video:

I - however take a bit slower approach than Chris.
What is citric acid?
Chemical Compound
Citric acid is a weak organic acid with the formula C6H8O7. It is a natural preservative/conservative and is also used to add an acidic or sour taste to foods and drinks.
Wikipedia Formula: C6H8O7
Molar Mass: 192.124 g/mol
Melting Point: 153C
Density: 1.66 g/cm3
Boiling point: 175C
Soluble in: Water
Why is it controversial?
In my "mixology world" it is controversial, as citric acid is the stuff, which makes the nightmarish sour mix [preferably in powder form] sour. Yeah - citric acid is the main ingredient in one of the most controversial [and in the modern craft bartending wor…

The Best Alcohol-free Drink - Ipanema

Usually I call them [out of laziness] mocktails - but really I never liked this denomination.
As "mocktails" are usually long drinks, it is even twice wrong, to connect them to a cocktail [which is technically a short drink with alcohol]. 
Apart of this, I am not a big believer in mocktails. Sodas can be fantastic [home made grapefruit soda is fantastic, or homemade ginger ale, ginger beer or any other odd ingredient sodas]. Juices - fine. Lemonades - yes, refreshing and good. And iced teas - can be absolutely amazing. Hence you don't need sickly sweet syrupy juice mixtures.
But yes - there are few good ones.
Most of them a mimicking drinks with alcohol. You can make a pretty good alcohol-free Planters Punch, Hurricane or Mojito, if you are using Caribbean Syrup. Or you can use a juniper syrup for some alcohol-free gin drinks.
A drink which I got to know long time ago, very early in my career, is a bit a different beast [well - you cannot call an alcohol-free drink a bea…

King Robert II Vodka

Who would knew, that I am reviewing a budget vodka here - on the But this isn't a normal review. I skip the marketing perception and use this product to cut directly to the case:

Vodka is a "rather" neutral, colorless, "rather" flavorless and odorless distilled beverage from any agricultural source - and depending on the country, it has a minimum of 37.5% and 40% abv.

As I said time and time again before: at times it is absolutely nonsense to talk about premium and luxury, when the original product doesn't really "hold this promise". Luxury water can have luxurious marketing, luxurious packaging, can be even rare and slightly more expensive "to produce". However really it is just water. Maybe it has some nuances to normal water - however those nuances (in a blind-test) are pretty small. Vodka is extremely similar - and the chain of evidence (despite a lot of people trying to proof otherwise) makes it really clear…