Increased Complexity of Cocktails
It’s hard to deny the benefits of living in a time and place where virtually every food imaginable is at our fingertips. We enjoy the luxury of sampling exotic cuisine from across the globe, and with easy access to information, we can try our hand at making any dish that catches our fancy.
This versatility of victuals isn’t limited to food, either. It also extends to the beverage market, where once simple cocktails have become a lot more complex. Mixology has blossomed over the last decade to include specialists who dive deep into the chemistry of cocktails to produce complicated recipes and gastronomic novelty.
These days, when you order a gin and tonic, you might want to prepare for gin featuring over 20 hand-foraged botanicals, or the addition of unexpected ingredients like coffee beans, chai tea, or an array of fresh fruit that would outclass your average sangria.
To be fair, variety is the spice of life, so while you may always return to your beloved Hendrick’s and Fever-Tree tonic, now is a great time to branch out and try some new flavors in your favorite simple cocktails.
Here are a few to kick off your foray into modern mixology.
Honestly, this isn’t much of a departure from the classic gin drink, but if you’re just dipping your toe in the water when veering away from your standby cocktail, this popular variation is available virtually everywhere.
The recipe calls for an even split of tonic and soda water, muting the sweetness of the original. Of course, top-shelf gin and craft tonic are recommended.
If you’re the daring sort, you can stray much farther from the beaten path with an M gin and tonic, created for the menu at RPM Steak in Chicago.
This one starts with a base of oak-barrel-aged gin and layers in sweet vermouth, Fernet-Branca liqueur, tonic water, and oil expressed from an orange peel. Garnish it with lemon wheels, a cinnamon stick, and star anise pods for a flavor that you just have to experience to understand.
Sometimes confused with a classic vodka martini, the Martinez actually came first and featured sweet vermouth (as opposed to dry), along with angostura bitters and maraschino liqueur.
An updated version from Japanese bartender Takumi Watanabe has only a few ingredients, but is incredibly heavy on prep.
We won’t go into every detail here, as it would take up the whole page, but suffice it to say, the process includes freshly toasted wood chips, a digital smoke infuser, rum swirled in a decanter filled with smoke, and a lit cigar served on the side.
It’s a far cry from the simplicity of the original Martinez, but on the upside, your drink comes with a show.
What can you say about a cocktail that calls for an astounding 71 ingredients from six continents? With a base of Scotch and ingredients ranging from chives and wild raspberry to lavender and kava root, there’s simply no way to describe the flavor profile of this bizarre beverage.
Frankly, the cost of admission and difficulty laying your hands on the ingredients is enough to stop even dedicated cocktail aficionados from trying their hand at mixing one of these.
Of course, there are plenty of complex cocktails that are easier to find or even mix up on your own, and when you’re done experimenting, you can always return to the simple classics that prize the flavor of top-shelf liquor over the novelty of a laundry list of ingredients.