Building a cocktail has long been considered both an art and a science. It requires a balance of flavours, textures, and aromas, as well as careful attention to detail.
It is very easy for home bartenders to feel intimated by experimenting with cocktail creation. Even though it might seem complicated, behind every cocktail is a simple formula to help maintain balance within the cocktail.
When it comes to non-alcoholic cocktails, this formula is no different. In fact, Sobrii 0-Spirits have been formulated with a flavour profile that allows you to maintain the same proportions of the ingredients you would use in a traditional cocktail, that way you don't need to reinvent the wheel.
So let's uncomplicate it, and break down the cocktail formula.
The first thing to note is that cocktails are all about balancing 3 components:
- Sweet Flavours: Sugar, syrup, liqueurs, fruit juices and cordials
- Sour Flavours: Citrus fruits/juices (lemons, limes, oranges, grapefruits) also passion fruit or green apples.
- Mild Flavours: Ice, Soda, Water, Cranberry Juice
The Role of Bitters
You can also add bitter flavours to your cocktails, such as cocktail bitters, vermouths, amari, citrus peels, teas or espresso coffee. Bitter flavours add depth and complexity to the flavour profile of the cocktail.
- Cocktail Bitters are concentrated liquid extracts that are made by macerating herbs, roots, and barks in alcohol. They are used to add flavour and depth to cocktails and are typically added in small quantities. Bitters come in many different flavours, such as aromatic, citrus, and herbal, and can be used to balance out sweetness and acidity in a cocktail.
- Amari are a type of bitter liqueur that originated in Italy. They are made by infusing alcohol with a variety of herbs, roots, and spices, and are typically served as an aperitif or digestif. Amari come in many different flavours, such as bitter orange, gentian root, and wormwood, and are also used to add complexity and depth to a cocktail.
- Vermouth is a fortified wine that is flavoured with a variety of herbs and spices. It is an essential ingredient in many classic cocktails, such as the Manhattan and the Martini. Vermouth is infused with a blend of aromatic herbs and spices, which can include ingredients such as wormwood, chamomile, coriander, and cardamom and more! These herbs and spices add layers of flavour and complexity to the vermouth, which in turn, enhances the flavour of the cocktail.
- Citrus peels, such as lemon or orange, are often used in cocktails to add bitterness and a citrus flavour. The oils in the peel contain bitter compounds that balance out sweetness and acidity in a cocktail and provide a refreshing and zesty flavour.
- Tea and coffee can both add complexity to a cocktail by contributing their unique flavours and aromas. For example, a black tea can add a rich, malty flavour, while a green tea can add grassy, vegetal notes. In addition to flavour, tea can also add tannins to a cocktail, which can help to balance sweetness and add a pleasant bitterness. Coffee also adds bitterness to cocktails.
Did You Know: In addition to adding flavour, bitter ingredients can also help to stimulate the appetite and aid in digestion. They are often used in aperitifs and digestifs, which are drinks that are designed to be consumed before or after a meal.
The Uncomplicated Cocktail Formula
Here's how it works:
1. Choose your Sobrii 0-Spirit
The first step in building a cocktail is to choose your non-alcoholic spirits. Depending on the type of cocktail you want to make, you can decide which 0-spirit you want to use. You can find more information about the different flavour profiles of Sobrii 0-Spirits here.
2. Add Sweet Flavour
Once you have your non-alcoholic spirit, it's time to add some sweetness to make the cocktail more palatable. You can sweeten your cocktail with syrups, fruit juices, liqueurs, sugar, honey, agave nectar, or any other sweetener of your choice. Be sure to taste your cocktail as you go and adjust the sweetness to your preference.
3. Add Sour Flavour
Sourness is a key component in balancing the sweetness of a cocktail. Sourness is a taste sensation that is caused by the presence of acidity in ingredients such as citrus fruit juices, vinegars and other sour mixers. The sourness helps to counteract the sweetness of syrups, liqueurs, and other sweet ingredients, creating a more balanced and harmonious drink.
Sour ingredients can also add a refreshing quality to a cocktail. Citrus fruits, in particular are ideal for their bright and zesty flavour.
4. Option to Add Bitter Flavours
If your cocktail could benefit from additional depth and complexity without throwing off the balance of the cocktail, you can add bitter flavours. Some bitter flavours that are often used in cocktails are small quantities of Angostura/Aromatic bitters, aperitifs and vermouths.
5. Add Mild Flavour
Mild flavours are intended to balance out the stronger ingredient flavours in a cocktail (the sweetness / sourness / bitterness). By providing a neutral base, mild flavours can enhance the other flavours in the drink and create a more well-rounded taste experience.
The most common mild flavours used in cocktails are ice and soda water.
- Ice is an important ingredient that both chills the cocktail while also providing the appropriate level of dilution for the other flavours.
- Soda water is another important ingredient that offers carbonation to make the cocktail more refreshing and sufficient dilution.
6. Shake / Stir
Once you have all of your ingredients, it's time to shake or stir your cocktail.
Rule of thumb: If your ingredients are transparent, stir. If your ingredients are opaque, shake!
Shaking a cocktail will create a frothy texture and mix all of the ingredients together. Stirring a cocktail will create a smoother texture and preserve the clarity of the cocktail.
7. Garnish & Serve
Cocktails are not only delicious to drink, but they can be aesthetically pleasing we well, with the help of garnish! Garnish will add the finishing touches on your cocktail, once you're ready to serve it up!
- Citrus Wheels
- Citrus Peels
- Fresh Herb Leaves
- Salted Rim
- Funky Straw
Building a non-alcoholic cocktail is nothing to be fearful of, as long as you know the basic formula and have your go-to ingredients on hand at your bar!
Remember to have fun and be creative with your ingredients and flavour combinations, and you're sure to come up with something amazing.