Why you don't need two spirits to make good and complex cocktails
|Picture via burlesquebaker.com|
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:
- Depending on which cognac, which rum and which orange liqueur you would use, you will end up with a different cocktail.
- You probably will end up with a much better tasting cocktail.
- 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?