I’m no Julia Child. Really! After all, her genre was cuisine whereas mine is cocktails. But her ability to demystify the intricacies of sophisticated French cookery for the mainstream hash slinger is something I truly admire. How many of us own, or have owned, Mastering The Art Of French Cooking? Still an essential reference for many chefs, by the way.
Anyhow, point being that creating a cocktail these days sometimes seems to require a level of methodology and mastery akin to a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu. I mean, molecular mixology? Do you keep a blowtorch in your kitchen? Or a Rotovap for that matter? It almost seems that a degree in chemistry is required to be able to make a drink.
So let’s keep this simple. If you’re willing to be just a little bit daring and mix a few liquors with some things you probably already have in your kitchen or garden, you can design your own cocktail masterpieces, like the Lavender Green Cocktail that was born of a need to use up some over-ripe avocados:
Muddle a slice of avocado with a pinch of lavender flowers (food grade), a small splash of vanilla extract and a little simple syrup.
Add 1 oz of lemon juice, 2 oz of pineapple juice and 2 oz of silver tequila.
Shake over ice then strain into a cocktail glass.
Garnish with another slice of avocado, if you like.
A lot of my inspiration comes from favorite foods. I’ve made a watermelon cocktail based on a salsa that’s always a hit at my house. Right now I’m working on a peanut butter cocktail by infusing peanuts into vodka to mix with a chocolate liqueur.
Do you love the aroma of coffee, bacon, thyme, sage, citrus, roses, cinnamon…? Use that as a basis for a drink. How about color? Look through your kitchen cupboards to see what ideas you can come up with. If it stains your clothes it will color your cocktail. Heck, do something with ketchup if you like. There really are no hard and fast rules.
The one guideline I would offer, however, is to begin by trying to form a taste “picture” in your mind. For instance, you may have pickles and strawberries on hand but imagine how that will taste — yuk! (OK, if you’re pregnant it might be ambrosia). Generally speaking, you don’t want to waste good liquor by combining ingredients just for the sake of it.
Don’t be afraid to let those creative juices flow. After all, cocktail culture really is for everyone.