By Junior Merino, The Liquid Chef
More and more these days, you can find on cocktail menus across the country, libations using spirits and ingredients with lower amounts of alcohol found in them for the bases. Inspired by claritos in Spain (wine mixed with soda), these low ABV drinks are a norm there and it has branched out over time.
These cocktails can be enjoyed in a variety of ways: spritzers (liqueur with soda), champagne drinks (think mimosas or bellinis), coffee or tea cocktails, sangrias, porrones (white or red wine mixed with soda served out of a porron bottle), micheladas, or shandies. Some of these mixes include liqueurs, sherry, port, madeira, wine, sake, shochu, beer, cider, and tea or coffee. Some personal favorites of mine include mixing wine with lemonade, tea or agua de jamaica.
Just like the approach of any balanced cocktail, when considering making a low ABV cocktail, I always consider the flavor profile of the main spirit, such as sherry or wine. Then bolster those flavors with additional ingredients like fruit, sweeteners, bitters, citrus peels or other liquors. You can boost the flavor by adding a splash of a regular spirit, such as cognac or tequila. Also keep in mind that ice is key when making these easy sippers. You need to be vigilant as the balance can be thrown off quickly by over dilution, or be too sweet or bitter by not diluting the ice enough. Also be careful when using modifiers such as juice or soda for the same reasons.
Some reasons for the popularity of low ABV drinks these days include that they are refreshing, light, and easy to drink. They are for consumers who would like to enjoy a cocktail on a hot day and not have to experience the intoxicating effects of higher proof drinks, perfect for the day drinkers. Low ABV drinks also appeal to consumers trying to cut calories and typically purchase Better For You (BFY) products.
Check out one my signature recipes for a low ABV sherry cocktail below!
1 oz Amontillado Sherry
1 oz Brandy
1/2 oz Dainzu Hibiscus Syrup
1/4 oz Cherry Heering
1/4 oz fresh lemon juice
3 droppers JM Roasted Apple & Toasted Spices Armagnac Intensives (Bitters)