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Shake it up: How to have your cocktail this summer

Lauren Mote, the global cocktailian for Diageo Reserve, serves up expert tips


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Q. Which alcohols are best suited to make cocktails? What make them so?
That’s a tough one, because no single alcohol can be described as the best to make cocktails; it very much depends on the season, the time, the place and the occasion, as well as your personal tastes and preferences. Right now, as I travel around South America, I love southern spirits, such as tequila and rum. I often drink Don Julio Blanco just on ice or as a Margarita, and I’m happy to finish a meal with some Don Julio 1942.

For me, the Diageo Reserve brands are the perfect selection of spirits, each with outstanding quality, heritage and flavour profile—perfect for cocktails.  For example, if I am making an Old Fashioned, I might reach for Zacapa rum, or enjoy a Johnnie Walker Black Highball with fresh coconut water. The possibilities are endless.

Q. What have been the most important cocktail trends in the past year? And what trends do you foresee in the coming year?

Cocktail culture is skyrocketing internationally, and with Asia, the Middle East and Latin America now represented on the World’s 50 Best Bars list, the cocktail revolution is spreading around the globe. Bartenders are bringing new ideas, techniques and cultural influences, and the result is a dynamic, fast-paced industry where new concepts are emerging and inspiring people to drink better. It is crucial to understand that emerging trends don’t need to be new, they can be adaptations of past themes—anything that elicits an emotional response and causes action and evolution. We are in an exciting time of communication, education, and expert knowledge, and bartenders are in a better position than ever to implement real change.  

At the World Class Bartender of the Year global finals in 2017, I had the opportunity to present a trends seminar alongside other important figures in our industry. We’ve identified some key trends set to hit the bar scene in 2018:

Sustainability: The world is waking up to the impact their choices have on the environment and sustainable practices and ingredients are becoming increasingly important. Mixologists who embrace this are the ones who will flourish and there is an opportunity for the industry to get behind some ‘easy to execute’ initiatives.

Signature serves:
The world’s best bars are already ‘must visit’ destinations for drink-savvy tourists, and we expect to see a rise in signature serves in 2018 as bar owners come to appreciate the value in letting their talented mixologists free themselves from ‘what’s expected’ and strive to create unique drink experiences.

Culinary cocktails: We’ve been waiting for bartenders and chefs to really start collaborating on flavour development—and we’re there now. Not only are more bartenders getting involved in the kitchen, also they’re using classical culinary techniques as a new way (for the bar) to preserve, extract and develop flavours. With the rise in the last decade of celebrity chefs and interest in cuisine, the most enlightened mixologists will experiment with flavours, ingredients and techniques from their peers in the world of fine dining.

g_104621_cocktail_280x210.jpgThe Professor Paradox is a great spin on the Cosmopolitan (in picture) and perfect as either a large format punch or an individual serve

Q. What tips would you have for a novice cocktail drinker and a seasoned one?
Don’t be afraid to ask for what you’re craving—this industry is built around hospitality and flavour, and you’ll be able to find both at the bar. If you’re interested in trying something new, and you’re not sure what direction to go, ask the bartender for some advice. For seasoned drinkers, keep doing what you’re doing, and perhaps start to take the party home, too. Invite your friends, family and guests to get involved in cocktails at home. It’s much easier than you think.

Q. What are you five cocktail recommendations for the Indian summer this year?
Professor Paradox:
It’s a great spin on a Cosmopolitan, and perfect as a large format punch, or individual serve; wonderful with light vegetables and seafoods. Shake 1.50 oz Ketel One vodka, 0.50 oz Fino sherry, 0.50 oz Cassis liqueur, 0.50 oz lemon juice, 0.50 oz simple syrup and two dashes of aromatic bitters with ice, and strain over a large cube in an Old Fashioned glass. Garnish with a dehydrated lemon wheel.

Celery Gimlet: Celery brings out the best in food, and with the edition of Tanqueray No TEN gin and extra virgin olive oil, this cocktail becomes brilliant with seafood, salads, raw oysters and ceviche. Shake together 2 oz Tanqueray No. Ten, 0.75 oz lime juice, 0.75 oz celery syrup, two dashes of celery bitters and one drop EVOO with ice, and double strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with lime peel.

Kentucky Singer: A heavier style cocktail for the summer, but those nice, fragrant, warm evenings are always great with a Manhattan-style cocktail, slowly developing on ice. Enjoy it on its own, or with richly spiced cookies and desserts. Stir together 1 oz Bulleit bourbon, 0.5 oz Amontillado sherry, 0.5 oz Punt e Mes vermouth, 0.25 oz almond liqueur, 0.25 oz apricot liqueur and two dashes of cherry bitters with ice, and pour into a coupe with an ice sphere or jagged lump of ice. Garnish with orange peel cut with crinkle scissors.

Duchess of Carbost: For those who are huge fans of salty, smoky whiskies, this cocktail becomes that finest balance on its own, or as a brilliant edition to poultry and first courses. It’s great with lighter, more acidic fare, richly spiced vegetables and butter/ghee. Shake together 1 oz Talisker 10 YO, 0.5 oz Green Chartreuse, 0.75 oz lemon juice, 0.75 oz rosemary syrup, and two dashes of Bittered Sling Clingstone Peach bitters with ice, strain over fresh cubes in a Collins glass. Top with ginger beer. Garnish with rosemary sprig.

Backbone: Finishing the night with an Old Fashioned is just happiness. Why not dive into a Johnnie Walker Old Fashioned-style cocktail with some tasty modifiers to expand your horizons? Perfectly paired with rich foods, meats and main courses, and certainly wonderful with chocolate, spices and great conversations. Stir together 1.5 oz Johnnie Walker Black, 0.5 oz Cherry Heering liqueur, 0.5 oz Luxardo Amaro Abano, and two dashes of Bittered Sling Moondog Latin bitters with ice, strain over one large cube in an Old Fashioned glass. Garnish with trimmed orange peel.