The Absolute Perfect Cocktail For Any Event
This is a guest post by Dan Thomson who is the main man at Zenna Bar (Vesper Black’s Thursday pre party venue). Dan knows pretty much all there is to know about cocktails and that’s what his venue are well known for.
Over to Dan…
I’ve worked behind countless bars, come up with any number of cocktails, some great, some not so. Out of these, there have been easy briefs to follow, and some that are so tricky they took about 5 attempts to get right.
But in all my time working bars, the biggest challenges have always come from working with catering companies on mobile bars at different venues.
This is partly because the catering companies will have their expectations and standards, but mostly because of the venues that host the events
In London we have some incredible history, and the buildings echo this all around us, but to preserve the quality of these establishments, they often have the most fussy rules!
Here are some of my favourites
- No coloured drinks
- No odorous drinks
- No black soled shoes
- No acidic ingredients
And the list goes on…
So obviously events can be quite tricky to play by everyone’s rules and still come out with a fantastic drink that not only you think is a great idea, but is also simple enough for catering bar staff to handle.
I always say that a cocktail is about balance. Balance between the alcoholic ingredient with the sweet ingredients and the sour ingredients. A good cocktail is not one that has the burn from the alcohol, it should retain the flavour of the spirit whilst eliminating that burn with the other ingredients without becoming too sweet or sour in the process.
What do I think is the perfect event cocktail?
Well first we have to differentiate between two different types of events. Firstly you have your event as mentioned above, a catering job in a historic venue with rules almost as tight as George Osborne’s budget, and secondly there are the events that a normal bar may host where they require a special cocktail.
I’m going to address the latter first. In a bar, you want cocktails that the bartenders just cannot make wrong because the ingredients and flavours will balance each other out so precisely.
But at the same time you need flavours that will be liked by almost everyone. Passion fruit and vanilla are great for this, however can be quite expensive or hard to get hold of. On the other hand, apple juice is always a good base.
The cocktail I’m going to suggest here is a twist on a recipe I learned from a Kiwi bartender called Nick. He said that out in NZ that cocktail is given to all the girls and they absolutely love it.
- 40ml Vodka
- 20ml passionfruit syrup
- 20ml lemon juice
- 40ml pineapple juice
- 60ml cranberry juice
The reason it is so great is the balance behind the pineapple and cranberry flavours, one being slightly sweet and the other slightly dry or sour. Its quick, its simple and it will always taste great, no matter if it is served long, or in a martini, or even as a shot. It also works off a 2:1:1 ratio with the vodka:lemon:syrup which is easy for any bartender to follow.
The cocktail that I would say is the perfect catering event cocktail takes a little more thought. I would say for it to be perfect, it would need to be colourless, and at the same time full of flavour as well as retaining all of the simplicity required for a catering bar.
I was in Ronnie Scotts yesterday with my girlfriend and she wanted a cocktail, not particularly trusting the bar staff (no offence to Ronnies, but I don’t trust any bartenders unless I know them).
I suggested she try the cocktail I thought that they wouldn’t be able to ruin, and in theory, if they had actually put all the ingredients in the drink that the menu had stated it would have been great, but it took a suggestion from me to get it right.
This just highlights no matter how good your cocktail design is, if the staff cant follow it, there’s no point.
My perfect cocktail for a catering event has to be the highball equivalent of a lychee martini.
- 40ml Vodka
- 20ml Lime Juice
- 20ml Sugar syrup or gomme
- 100ml lychee juice
This is so easy to get right, it follows the 2:1:1 ratio for vodka:lime:sugar and can be shaken, built, stirred, or churned into glass. It will come out a white colour and will have a subtle floral nose to it, not to mention everyone will like it.
Granted they might want it a bit more sour or sweet, but most will take is as it comes. It could also be topped with a touch of soda for some freshness, or if you want to be really creative, add some coriander when you create it to make it truly unique.
At Zenna Bar in Soho London, we have a similar cocktail called the ‘Coriander and Lychee Daiquiri’. Often customers think the coriander will be overpowering in the drink, however it actually only gives off an aroma before being overpowered by the taste of the lychee which makes a truly special drink.
What’s the only cocktail you will ever drink when at a bar or fancy party?
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