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Expert Tips For Creating The Perfect Cocktail

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5 Tips For Creating The Perfect Cocktail

Throughout my years working in hospitality, I’ve been fortunate enough to participate in numerous events, sampling various foods and cocktails.  Everyone talks about the latest diets, recipes and dishes to cook, but beverages often fall by the waist side. When food is paired with the appropriate drink, it can invoke a wider range of flavor profiles. An ingredient, sampled on its own often, tastes completely different when coupled with the appropriate ingredients.
Food pairing isn’t the only consideration when coming up with a drink. Climate, the time of day an event takes place, the theme, or even the demographic of individuals attending your event, all play an integral role when deciding.

Below are some tips that I’ve learned along the way when preparing the perfect cocktail:


Tip #1: Always taste the hero of the drink on its own.  For example, if the star ingredient is a liquor of some sort, taste it by itself to see if it naturally reminds you of a specific food or flavor.  This should be done for a few reasons; if it’s a flavored liquor or has notes of a specific ingredient, it can easily be overpowered if too much of one thing is added.  On the flip side, if something has subtle notes or the essence of a flavor, when paired with specific items, can greatly be enhanced.


Tip #2: Don’t be afraid to incorporate savory elements into a beverage. All drinks need some sort of garnish, as well as flavor profile. Be careful not to overpower the flavor; some herbs are extremely fragrant and should be used sparingly.  For example, if you wanted to use bold flavors such as sage, rosemary or cloves, a great way to infuse flavor, without overpowering the drink, would be to steep the herb in the liquor or cook it down in some homemade simple syrup.  (See simple syrup recipe below)

Tip #3: Don’t overcomplicate things. 
Some of the best drinks have only a few ingredients that speak for themselves.

Tip #4: If you’re hosting a large event, try to choose a drink that will appeal to numerous people and isn’t difficult to execute.
  Some drinks get better the longer they sit, especially when infusing with fruits or vegetables.  I like to make a signature cocktail that can be showcased for all to see, and easily consumed by guests.  A great way to do that is to serve in a pitcher or drink dispenser.  You can find various styles at affordable prices at Wal-Mart, Bed Bath & Beyond, and Macy’s to name a few.


Tip #5: Have fun and DRINK RESPONSIBLY!
Quite often, I’m not sure what I’d like to cook, so I develop inspiration from the beverage I’d like to drink.  Below are some drinks that might give you some insight for your next event.


  • “The Banana Split”

This fun drink can be served on the rocks, straight up or even as a shot. I usually garnish with a Maraschino cherry, but if I’m feeling really playful I’ll add some whipped cream to go with my cherry.

1 ½ ounces Pinnacle Whipped Vodka

½ ounce banana liquor of your choice

A splash of club soda (if desired)


  • “Napoléon’s Punch”

(1) 750ML bottle of Mandarine Napoléon

(1) 6 pack of Gosling’s Ginger Beer

Orange slices (as many as desired)

Maraschino cherries (as many as desired)

Club soda – as desired (if too sweet or you want some the “bubble factor”)

Mix it all up and serve. I like to serve this in a big pitcher or drink dispenser. It’s great for bbq’s and outdoor events.


  • “Rasberry Limoncello Prosecco”

A friend of mine posted this on Facebook, and it’s been one of my favorite drinks to serve at brunches.

3 cups Prosecco (chilled)

1 cup Limoncello liquor (chilled) – I like to make my own (see recipe below)

1 cup frozen raspberries

Fresh mint

Mix Prosecco & Limoncello together.

Serve over frozen raspberries and garnish with mint.


Basic Simple Syrup

            3 ½ cups of water

2 ½ cups of sugar

Bring water a lot to a boil. Stir sugar into water until fully dissolved.


Perfect Cocktail

Limoncello Liquor

Remove the rind of 10-20 lemons (depending on size). You can use a peeler, knife or whatever you have to get the job done. Be sure not to get too much pith (white part) when peeling.

  • 750ML bottle of vodka (your choice, but must be unflavored)

3 ½ cups water

2 ½ cups sugar


Combine vodka and lemon peels in a bowl. Cover with plastic and allow to steep 2-4 days so that lemon can infuse into vodka.  Strain vodka to remove lemon peels. Combine with simple syrup. Stir and bottle.

written by Gina Sansonia

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