There has been a recent revival in cocktails, old recipes have resurfaced and new ones have appeared along side of them. To the professional bar person a cocktail is a short drink of 3-4 fl oz. Anything larger would be called a mixed drink. Mixed drinks, both hot and cold, have been on the scene for hundreds of years, but the original cocktail had its beginnings in the prohibition era in the U.S.A.
They were designed to create something drinkable from the mishmash of inferior liquors that were available, but the idea was soon taken up by those who had access to good quality liquor.
When the ban was lifted in 1933 and the standards of liquor improved many of the early cocktails were refined and more created, then the cocktail boom began.
The idea of the cocktail appealed to many other nations, so the cocktail travelled far and wide including England, where here the cocktail hour between 5-30 and 7-30, fitted into the gap left by the decline of afternoon tea. Thus providing a pleasant way of socializing for the younger set to pass the time away before dinner.
The second world war put a stop to this and the cocktail was not taken up again until the late 70s early 80s. Today, cocktails are even more popular than ever. There is a grater range of spirits, many new liqueurs, and a whole new range of mixers from which to choose from, but more importantly today’s cocktail drinker comes from a broader section of the population.
Talking about new spirits, there has emerged from China a high alcohol spirit called baijiu, which translates into English as clear spirit. I have tasted many of the famous brands and some of the not so famous brands of baijiu. In my opinion most of these brands are filled with aromas and tastes which are far to cloying to make a decent baijiu cocktail.
V.I.P Jiu 8 is a perfect baijiu for using on its own or mixing with other spirits to make a great cocktail or mixer drink. V.I.P Jiu 8 is so smooth it will blend with any occasion. So I decided to put together some old and some new baijiu cocktails to include this exciting new liquor, but before we begin, a few tips to make life behind the bar a lot easier.
Tips – Creating Baijiu Cocktails
Creating cocktails or any other mixer drink is like anything else in life you can throw it together and hope for the best or you can carefully craft it. Which ever method you use will show up in the final product. To make a cocktail or mixer drink is not difficult, but it will be made easier if you follow a few simple rules.
- Prepare your drink on a surface which can be wiped and cleaned easily.
- Keep all drinks in a cool place. Keep your mixers in the refrigerator.
- Always add ice to the shaker.
- Crushed ice cools a drink quicker, but also dilutes the drink.
- With a few exceptions, always strain a cocktail that has been shaken. To remove anything that will spoil the appearance.
- Don’t reuse ice from one drink to another.
- In general clear drinks are stirred and cloudy drinks are shaken.
- Always clean your shaker and stirrer between drinks.
- Rinse all spoons after each drink.
- Cracked ice, put ice into strong plastic bag and hit with wooden rolling pin or use a food processor.
- Crushed ice is made the same way as cracked only broken up more.
- Powdered sugar, briefly grind granulated sugar in blender.
- Simple sugar syrup. dissolve powdered sugar in equal amounts of water. This will dissolve more readily in drinks that are shaken.
- The look of a drink is very important. The decoration is an essential part of the recipe, but keep an open mind and let your imagination do the rest.
Baijiu Cocktail Equipment
Cocktail shaker is a must, can be substituted by a screw topped jar that is large enough to take ice cubes.
- Strainer, traditionally made from stainless steel.
- Measure, the measure I will be using in the forthcoming recipes will be the jigger which is 45 ml or 1½ fluid ounce.
- Different measures can be used as long as volume is taken into account. Do not use metric and imperial measurement together. Keep them separate.
- Mixing glasses, to warm glasses fill them with hot water empty then dry.
- Bar spoon, a long handled spoon for stirring.
- Teaspoon and tablespoon, spoons can be bought in imperial and metric to give a more accurate measure of small quantity’s.
- A glass filled with hot water to rinse mixing spoons.
- Corkscrew, bottle opener, closures for bottles of sparkling wine’ ice bucket, Tongs, small sharp knife.
- Chopping board, fruit juice squeezer, electric blender, ice crusher, cocktail sticks, straws, beer mats, tea towels or paper towels.
Stocking The Bar
As in cooking, the quality of your ingredients will reflect in the dish, in this case the glass, so concentrate on quality and remember to take advantage of miniature bottles. The following is a list of the drinks that will be the most useful to you.
V.I.P Jiu 8 baijiu, Gin, Whiskey, Vodka, White rum, Dark rum, Brandy, Curacao, Cointreau, Cherry brandy, Dry Vermouth and Sweet Vermouth. That will do to get you started, you can add more spirits as your experience grows. You will also need a selection of mixers and fruit flavoured still and sparkling waters. Of which there are a great variety.
The high ball, the flute, the cocktail glass, the old fashioned, the tumbler, the tulip, and the goblet are but a few of the glasses that are obtainable, but the style of the glass is really not that important. What is very important is the glass should be spotless, free from detergent or any odour. If glasses are stored upside down the trapped air becomes stale thus affecting the taste and smell of a drink. Wash them before use.
- When choosing a glass for whatever drink opt for one that will be no more than two thirds full when both liquids and ice have been added.
- The general type of glass you will use are the cocktail glass, which is about 4fl oz. = 120ml. They are stemmed and usually V shaped.
- Old fashioned or tumbler with sloping sides hold between 6-8fl oz = 175-250 ml.
- Highball a tall straight sides tumbler which holds 12fl oz = 350ml
- Champagne flute is a stemmed glass with a tall slim bowl which holds between 6-10 fl. Oz = 180-300ml.
- Then there are the standard wine glasses and goblets of different sizes.
Our next step is to create cocktails and mixer drinks to the wonderment of our friends and relations.