On a Sour Note…

July 8, 2009

It’s an easy enough mistake (and one i’m heartily guilty of on occasion) when making drinks these days to swing one of two main ways; to get fixated on your classics, your history, and force this upon the customer, waxing lyrical until they simply don’t care anymore. Or to go the other way, getting so tied down by the customer that your reportoire of drinks simply consists of sweet, generic-tasting drinks following a constant 2:1:3 ratio of spirit, liquor, and juice.

Neither are exactly ideal and most certainly a good bartender they do not maketh.

That said however it’s hardly taxing to hit a nice middle-ground. Hitting a nice balance of sweet and sour, whilst still maintaining a deep underlying amount of spirit knowledge and practical mixology.

My personal fave to hit such types of drinks is in the form of your widely-known family of drinks…

The Sours

I’m pretty sure you can guess the make-up of these drinks. A basic 2:1:1 ratio of spirit, sour, and sweet, with the addition of an egg white to bind the contrasting tastes together into a well balanced drink.

The oldest mention of a sour, based on whiskey, is found in 1870, in a Wisconsin based magazine.

Since then however this versatile build of drink has been utilised everywhere. Taking little-to-no time to cobble together it’s a perfect basis for exploration into the expansive world of spirits and liquors.

We all end up having our personal favourites though, and of late the following couple of drinks have swiftly worked their way into my top recomendations for the uninitiated into the world of cocktails.

The Honey-Berry Sour

We start off with a drink that first caught my eye in the lengthy, and sometimes dubious, Diffords cocktail guide. Not neccesarily trusting the initial specs I altered them to suit the following:

25ml Krupnik
25ml Chambord
12.5ml Cherry Marnier
10ml Lemon Juice
10ml Gomme
1 Egg white.

Dry-shake the ingredients (without ice) briefly, then add ice and proceed to shake hard. Single strain into a rocks glass over ice and garnish with a lemon slice and a cherry.

Notes. A cloyingly sweet start to the drink swiftly descends into a tart lemon and berry middle. Velvety texture due to the egg white and cherry marnier sticks to the tongue and leaves you on the bitter-sweet taste of the krupnik.

Black-Forest Sour

This one’s a variation upon a drink I first found on the Bluu, Nottingham‘s cocktail list in 2007. Originally in the form of a martini I found it to be far too sickly for most peoples taste. However with the simple souring down of the drink its become one of my most frequently served concoctions of late.

25ml Amaretto
25ml Chambord*
12.5ml Cherry Marnier
10ml Cranberry Juice
10ml Lemon Juice
10ml Gomme

Note no egg white in this sour. The drink has a sticky consistency that still manages to maintain its delicately balanced nature, egg white overpowers this.

Shake all hard and single strain over ice in a rocks glass. Add dash of soda if needed to taste. Garnish with skewered blueberries and a mint sprig.

Notes. As its namesake suggests the drink both begins and carries throughout on a black-forest-esque taste. Sticky sweet notes are present in the middle of the drink and carry through to finish on a quite tart note. Very easy to drink and can be produced using even the most basic of back bars. Decidedly more-ish. Not subtle in the slightest, however appealing in its nature.

*Can also be altered by the removal of chambord and addition of a lightly spiced, aged rum. The inclusion of an egg white is essential to the obtaining of the ideal taste, as the rum is far less binding a liquor opposed to the chambord. This results in a a far more deep and fierce tasting drink.

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