Advanced Techniques to Level Up Your Home Mixology Game!
Ready for a challenge? Let’s get more elaborate with our cocktails!
Do you have the basics under your belt? There’s always more to learn in the world of mixology! From modifying your spirit for a novel tasting experience to more elaborate presentation details, bartenders are constantly implementing new ways to elevate their cocktails. However, while these are more advanced for the seasoned mixologist, anyone can try these techniques at home!
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1. Fat-Wash Your Spirit! ⇩
You often see fat-washing with richer spirits like whiskey and rum, but it’s also an excellent technique with gin! Essentially, you incorporate a fat source with a spirit to add complex dimensions of silky texture and flavour. Don’t worry, you’re not actually drinking straight fat since it’s more of an infusion that’s eventually extracted.
To do this, you’ll want to keep in mind the ratio of about 16% to 32% of fat to the amount of gin you’ll be infusing (lower for sources with stronger flavours and higher for those with lighter). For our example, we’ll be using extra virgin olive oil and Empress 1908 Indigo Gin since the savoury notes of the oil go well with the earthy flavours of the gin. We recommend mixing these two at 25% since the flavour of the oil is lighter, but we still want to make the gin the star of the show!
In a jar, add 250ml of gin and 62.5ml of olive oil and briefly shake every 15 minutes for about 4 hours at room temperature to allow the flavours to incorporate. Put your jar in the freezer overnight to freeze the fat layer. Take the jar out of the freezer, cut out the layer of fat (you can save this gin-infused olive oil for cooking!), and strain through a cheesecloth to fully filter out any solids. Pour into a sealed container and keep for up to two weeks!
Try this in the ‘First Empression’ by @spiritedla!
- 2½ oz Olive-Oil-Washed Empress 1908 Indigo Gin
- ½ oz Rosemary and Thyme Infused Dry Vermouth
- 2 dashes Apple Sage Bitters
- Home-pickled Pearl Onions*
Stir on ice, strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with a pearl onions.
*Pickle the onions to taste with rosemary, thyme, peppercorns, apple cider vinegar, salt, vermouth, and sugar!
Important to note!
The ratios will require some experimentation based on the type of fat you use and your preference of how much flavour you want to infuse in your gin. We recommend first going less to avoid overwhelming the spirit!
2. Milk Clarification! ⇩
We know about milky and creamy cocktails like the Empress Alexander, but have you thought about adding milk to a sour-style cocktail? Clarifying a cocktail with milk not only makes a normally-opaque finish crystal clear, but it also softens the edges of more aggressive ingredients like citrus and gives a silkier mouthfeel. We’ll teach you the process below using @jfdesfosses‘ Clarified Saturn he made with us previously!
Clarified Saturn (serves 3)
- 5 oz Empress 1908 Indigo Gin
- ¾ oz White Overproof Jamaican Rum
- ¾ Falernum
- 1½ oz Passion Fruit Syrup
- 1½ oz Fresh Lemon Juice
- ¾ oz Orgeat
- 2 oz Whole Milk
- Mix 2½ oz Empress Indigo Gin, the rum, falernum, passion fruit syrup, lemon juice, and orgeat and pour over 2 oz of whole milk.
- Once curdled sufficiently, pour the mixture through a wet coffee filter.
- Once completely filtered, add the remaining 2½ oz of Empress Indigo Gin to the mixture, bottle it up, and keep in the fridge until you want to serve.
- To serve, add ⅓ of your cocktail for each serving to a mixing glass and stir to chill and dilute. Strain into a rocks glass filled with ice and enjoy!
IMPORTANT TO NOTE!
- The mixture of the cocktail and milk will start to curdle. This is exactly what we want! You’ll specifically want to pour the cocktail into the milk and not the other way around for the ideal cocktail-to-milk exposure.
- The first few drops during step 2 will be cloudy, which is normal since much of the filtering will be through the set curds. Simply wait for the drops to get more clear, transfer the setup over a different container, and add the cloudy liquid back to the filter.
- Pour your cocktail over a large, clear ice cube to show off the beauty of your hard work! Learn how to make this yourself with the next technique.
3. Clear Ice! ⇩
It’s hard to beat the pristine beauty of a clear ice cube or sphere! Don’t get us wrong, you can still make a stunning cocktail with normal ice, but the clarity really takes it up a notch. It’s not just for aesthetics either! Since the cloudiness in ice is created by impurities such as gases, clear ice actually melts a little slower.
To do achieve this, we’re going to employ a technique called “directional freezing.” You know how when a lake freezes, the frozen layer is crystal clear while there’s still water underneath? We want a similar result where we push the impurities downward to create a clear layer on top, which will become our ice cubes. To do this at home, all you need is a small insulated cooler (we recommend a 5qrt capacity) that will fit in your freezer, a serrated knife, and a mallet! You should also wear grippy, food-safe gloves when handling your ice to reduce chances of your grip slipping.
- Fill a cooler with filtered water, leaving about two inches of space as the ice will expand while freezing.
- Insert the filled cooler into the freezer and let sit for at least 24 hours.
- 24 hours won’t freeze all the way through, but will create a layer that’s partially filled with water, which will be easier to cut. The layer of ice, however, will be thinner. 48 hours does freeze completely, but you’ll have to cut the cloudy layer off, which is harder and more dangerous. You do get bigger ice, though!
- Take the cooler out of the freezer and let sit out for at least 15 minutes to temper. It will also make it easier to push the giant ice block out of the cooler!
- Tempering your ice essentially allows it to acclimate to the surrounding environment and make it less brittle, which will make for more consistent cutting as opposed to uncontrolled fracturing.
- If your ice block is partially frozen, create a hole in the water-filled layer and drain. Chop off the excess ice fragments to create your flatter block. Feel free to save the fragments in the freezer for mixing!
- If your ice block is fully frozen, score it halfway around with your knife, place the knife over the marks, and tap the spine of your knife with the mallet repeatedly until the block separates in half.
- Repeat this step, but score the divide between the clear and cloudy layers. You can also save the cloudy ice for mixing if you don’t want to throw it away!
- Finally, score your clear ice block into your desired shapes such as square cubes for tumblers or longer ones for Collins glasses and repeat the method from step 5 of tapping your knife against the scored marks. Store your ice cubes in a bag and keep in the freezer for future usage!
BONUS ICE TIPS!
- The freezing times are starting points, but this overall depends on the temperature of your freezer. A colder temperature, of course, freezes faster, but can also result in more impurities. Feel free to play around with the times and temperatures for what works best for you!
- Before using your beautifully crystal-clear ice, let it sit out for a few minutes before pouring your cocktail. The sudden change in temperature by pouring a liquid onto an ice cube straight out of the freezer will cause it to crack, thus negating your hard work!
- Shave your ice by scraping each side with a sharp knife for straighter edges if you like that precise look! You can also take an aluminium pan and rub each side of the block to flatten to your desired finish.
4. Ramos Gin Fizz! ⇩
Ready for a workout? Sure, this is a cocktail recipe, but it’s also the ultimate test of your mixing techniques! The challenge here is that you’re not only emulsifying the egg white, but also the cream in order to create a stiff and foamy head that ideally can protrude out the top of the glass while you add the soda water. Don’t worry, though, we have some tips that should help you create this showstopper of a sip:
- Add the spring from a hawthorne strainer or coil ball to your tins during the dry shake
- Instead of a typical wet shake, try adding a couple ice cubes and shake until they dissolve for optimal dilution and texture
- Add a touch of soda water to your glass, pour your cocktail, and stick it in the freezer for about five minutes to let the foam set
Apply these tips to the recipe below by @jfdesfosses!
- 2 oz Empress 1908 Indigo Gin
- ¾ oz Simple Syrup
- ¾ oz Heavy Cream
- ½ oz Lemon Juice
- ½ oz Lime Juice
- 1 dash Orange Blossom Water
- 2 drops Vanilla Extract
- 1 Egg White
- Soda Water
Add all ingredients into a shaker without ice, except for the soda. Shake, then add a couple of blocks of ice and shake until you don’t hear them anymore. Open pour your cocktail to a chilled Collins glass. Finally, poke a hole in the middle of the foam and pour the soda in the hole and the foam should rise!
Complexity in cocktails doesn’t have to stem from exotic ingredients and expensive equipment. Oftentimes, it’s about being as creative and adaptable as you can be with what you have on hand! That’s why we wanted to share with you some techniques that you can try with items that you likely already have with you. Let us know if you try any of these techniques through your own creations on Instagram with the hashtag #EmpressGin!