Freeman believes that being a good mixologist involves having attention to detail, ability to copy those who have proven to be successful in their methods and setting up in a way that reflects your own way of working. A good bartender must put off this illusion that he has an incredibly easy job by focusing on small details and by constantly having a continuous silent dialogue in his head.
To all bartenders out there, Freeman believes a lot of thought should go into setting up your station and getting your "mise en place," as the French would say which means "putting in place," ready. The label of the spirit must always face the guest as you build your cocktail, so they can see what brand of spirit you are using. Many restaurants and fine establishments use quality spirits even for their well liquors.
In many modern day cocktail bars, drinks are made by starting with the smallest ingredient, in case you mess up, so you don't waste your most expensive product which is typically the spirit. Another reason for using the smallest amount first is because generally there is more of the spirit then any sugar in a mixed drink, and sugar should always be added first because it doesn't dissolve in the presence of alcohol.
We learned how to make a basic lemonade. Freeman taught us about the rule 2:1:1/2, 2 parts water,1 part lemon and 1/2 part simple syrup. This makes the lemonade have a racey acidity with a sweet taste that lingers until the end. A constant journey for the palate that never gets boring. Traditionally simple syrup is known to be equal parts sugar and water, but Freeman suggested we used a 1:1.5 ratio of water to sugar to make the solution sweeter. He also thinks that simple syrup, from a mixology standpoint, should not be heated because it turns into a complex sugar that makes your cocktail unpleasantly thick and not as sweet. Also, the palate is unable to recognize how much sugar is actually in the solution.
For this lesson, let's start with what Freeman believes to be "the evolution to the cocktail," a basic sour.
Follow the lemonade ratio, 2 parts spirit, 1 part citrus, 1/2 part simple syrup. The citrus is meant to put a little kick in the drink and the syrup is meant to smooth it out.
1oz Lemon Juice
1/2oz Simple Syrup
Even non-gin drinkers will like it because it's a well balanced, even drink. Replace the lemon juice with lime and then you have a Gin Gimlet. Lime works well with the juniper in gin to add a second dimension.
At home, you can buy many different spirits and pair it with different citrus fruits like lime, lemon, grapefruit, yuzu diluted with a little water and orange mixed with lemon. Vinegars are also another popular acid to use in a drink, if you are willing to experiment. Turn it into a collins, by topping it off with club soda.
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