Living: Raise your glass!

Living: Raise your glass!

If you are hosting a party then cocktails are a must. And in case you are bored with the classics like a cosmopolitan or a Long Island iced tea and want a real conversation starter, don’t be afraid to try your own infusions.

When I am asked about flavour infusions for cocktails, I get excited because the possibilities are endless; the only thing that limits you is your imagination. Generally, bartenders prefer to infuse flavours into spirits, but you can infuse flavours in other components too, like in ice, smoke or vapour.

* But first, let’s take spirits. You can do a bacon-infused spirit-based cocktail or you could do an orange zest-infused ice ball for an old-fashioned drink. A spirit infusion or maceration is strong in flavour, as the spirit strips the flavour of any ingredient that is soaked in it.

* Depending on what you are trying to infuse, the time needed for the maceration is different; generally, herbs and soft fruits infuse in a day or so, whereas an ingredient like cinnamon stick will take three to four days.

* With ice infusions, the flavour gets released into the drink gradually and is far more subtle.

* Smoke infusions, on the other hand, are instantaneous when the liquid is poured through the smoke. So explore and push the boundaries of flavour.

* Stick to lighter flavour combinations with lighter spirits such as gin, vodka, and light rum. You can pair darker or heavier flavours like chocolates, spices, caramel etc. with darker spirits such as whiskey, rum, and tequila. In fact, cinnamon-infused tequila is incredible and only takes two days to infuse properly if you use cinnamon bark.

* There are different temperatures in which an infusion can take place. But the most common and more natural one is leaving the maceration in a cool dry and shaded place and let the magic happen.

* If you are pressed for time, you can chill infusions at around 3°C to 4°C or you can do an almost instant infusion using pressure. While using a soda gun or cream gun, add all your ingredients in the flask, then cap it and charge with two nitrogen bullets. The pressure within the container will strip the flavours out quickly.

* As a general rule for cocktails, never use more than 60 ml of a spirit in your cocktail and always shake well (until you see a frosting on the outside of the shaker tin) to achieve good dilution and temperature, and also use plenty of ice.

(The author is a mixologist at HIGH Ultra Lounge)


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