Have you started your cocktail recipe for the Not Your Pink Drink contest? If you haven’t, here are a couple more tips to get you to your A-game cocktail.
Just to backtrack, every year, at the Bourbon Women Siposium the Bourbon Women announce the winner of their Not Your Pink Drink Contest (It's been me the last few years, so this year I'm just helping out). Bourbon women love well-crafted, bourbon-centric cocktails, and they want ones that aren’t pink! (You can see the full rules here.)
In the previous post, I gave you three tips to get you started with the Not Your Pink Drink Contest. Play with classic cocktail recipes, make bourbon the star of your cocktail and make the bourbon stand out in your cocktail. This time, we’ll cover a couple more recommendations.
Start with a Cocktail Recipe You Already Love
The easiest way to come up with a new recipe without starting from scratch is to start with a cocktail that you already know you love. Maybe it’s the old fashioned, or maybe the Manhattan, or it could be a whiskey sour. If you have a go-to cocktail when you’re eating out or having cocktails, think about new flavors or combinations to introduce to the cocktail.
For example, I love a good old fashioned, and when I tried Starlight Blackberry Whiskey, I knew I wanted to try it out in an old fashioned. I just took my basic old fashioned recipe, 2 oz bourbon, ½ oz simple syrup and some bitters and dropped the bourbon amount and replaced it with the blackberry whiskey. Instead of plain simple syrup, I made some blackberry simple syrup. Sounds simple enough, right?
I’m also a fan of the Manhattan, and when I tried Rivulet Pecan liqueur I wanted to combine pecan with bourbon. In this case, I used the Rivulet in place of the sweet vermouth traditionally used in a Manhattan, and added some chocolate bitters. Voila! New cocktail.
The fun thing about playing with a cocktail you already know you like is that even your mistakes will be tasty. And that brings us to your second tip:
Taste-test It while you’re Working on It
Half the fun in coming up with new cocktail recipes is testing the cocktail once you’re finished. But, the real tip here prevents you from making any stinkers: Taste Test! You’ll see mixologists doing this in bars occasionally when they want to test a cocktail they’ve put together. Before they serve it, and sometimes while they are mixing it, they take a straw or spoon and take a small sip. Testing as they go prevents mishaps making it to the patron’s table.
When you start to work on a cocktail, think about general proportions, and if you think it’s possible you might want less of an ingredient, use the smaller amount, taste it before pouring into the glass and see if you need more. You can always add more, but it’s impossible to remove a single ingredient once it’s in the mixing glass with everything else. So taste test early and taste test often.
If your cocktail doesn’t quite make the cut, sometimes adding bitters, especially unique or different bitters, can take your cocktail up a notch. Angostura, Fee Brothers and Regans bitters are all classic bitters, but we’re in a cocktail renaissance and there are hundreds of unique bitters on the market you can try. When you get a new bottle of bitters, one easy way to taste test it is to add several dashes to a glass of chilled sparkling water.
Occasionally, you will make a cocktail you can’t save, but for the most part starting with a standard cocktail recipe and improvising from there along with taste testing throughout the contest will save most of the drinks you make.
Those are your tips for now, so go out and keep mixing! Go here to enter your cocktail. The due date is July 27th!
Heather Wibbels is a cocktail enthusiast who spends her time thinking about cocktails, researching cocktails and making cocktails. Mostly whiskey cocktails, given her Kentucky location.