Craziest Cocktails: What Makes the Best Drink?

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So, now the dreams come true, how do you imagine you’ll be spending the next few weeks/ years/ the rest of your life?

Fast forward through the shock and realisation of your win, zip ahead of telling your friends, quitting your job and donating to charity. What would your life be like if you had no financial limitations?

How to Live Life as a High Roller

Chances are it’s going to involve some serious luxury. You will soon be checking up on the biggest yachts, the best casinos, the finest dining, the most fun holiday destinations. So, when you step into this world you’ll want to feel at home, confident of the etiquette and conversation, assured that you’ll be accepted as one of the gang.

Imagine being admitted into the glamourous surrounds of Soho’s exclusive Milk & Honey bar only to find there’s no beer on tap. You’re confronted with a mind-boggling selection of cocktails with names like East 8 Hold Up, the Roberto Burns and the Parker 75.

Well, that’s where the Gamblib team are here to help. Drawing on our expertise in travel, food, drink and the life of a high roller, you should sober up (pun intended) and absorb our words on the zaniest beverages in our infographic. Before you know it, your sparkling knowledge of fun facts and your smooth ease with the art of mixology will guarantee you’re the life and soul of the bar. Indeed, you’ll be the centre of attention at every glamorous party you’re invited to.

So, What Do I Need to Know About Cocktails?

Key ingredients that define the cocktail are spirits, sugars, water and bitters and the earliest records of a cocktail dates back to 1798.

Ice is the significant factor – a cocktail absolutely must be served perfectly iced, which can be achieved using one of five methods – blending, layering, muddling, shaking or stirring.

The differences in method impact on flavour, texture and strength which are determined as much by the drink as by the drinker. Hence, as a gentleman accustomed to the high life, James Bond has his infamously specific requirements, ‘shaken, not stirred’.

Most of us are pretty familiar with Sex on the Beach and everyone’s had fun with a Slow Comfortable Screw Against the Wall at some point in their lives (we won’t judge you if you’ve only ever seen cocktails on screen). However, have you heard of a cocktail that comes with its own amputated human toe? Any idea what the most expensive cocktail in the world is? Do you know the difference between ‘in the rocks’ and ‘on the rocks’?

Get the Lingo

‘Straight up’ refers to a drink shaken or stirred over ice and then strained, for example Lafitte’s Mohawk. ‘On the rocks’, we all know, means pouring over thick chunks of frozen distilled water, but, ‘in the rocks’, was invented for an Old Fashioned at The Aviary, where the cocktail is sealed within the ice for the customer to release with a slingshot.

Glassware too is just as important. Your exorbitantly expensive Gigi’s cocktail from Gigi’s Restaurant, contains Armagnac from the 1890s, vintage champagne and gold leaf. At nearly £9K a glass, you want that drink to retain its fizz to the last drop. It is ideally, therefore, served in a tall flute that curves inwards towards the top and only filled half way. This allows the bubbles to rise slowly, developing the complexity of flavour and trapping in aroma as bubbles pop and linger at the surface.

A true Martini cocktail, such as the Duo’s Double Truffle Martini above, must be served not only in a traditional V shaped martini glass, but the glass must be no larger than 7oz. Anything bigger than this is simply ridiculous because a true martini will warm up too much by the time it is finished.

Cocktail Bar Etiquette – How to Behave

To observe etiquette wherever you may be, is to show that you respect the house rules. This is true wherever you are; in a library, you speak in whispers or you don’t speak at all. In casinos, even online ones, you abide by the rules or you get kicked out. In a bar… well, let’s just say it depends on the type of bar but usually, they all have their ground rules as well and if you’re playing on their turf, you’d better get acquainted with them.

Cocktail culture and cocktail bars in particular, are subject to fashion swings, going in and out of favour as trends vacillate. Right now, we’re at the height of a cocktail Renaissance as bartenders, sometimes referred to as mixologists, and high society are returning to the associations of chic glamour select luxury and exclusive speakeasy.

If you’re lucky enough to admitted to one of these elite establishments, you’ll be expected to abide by a very strict code of conduct. These are hallowed venues where the arts of patience and pleasure are to be savoured with grace. No meat-market, drunken antics here.

Soho’s Milk & Honey bar list their House Rules on their menu and they include the requirements that: “Gentlemen will remove their hats” and recommends of the ladies that, “If a man you don’t know speaks to you, please lift your chin slightly and ignore him”.

Jim Meehan, co-founder of 2016’s World’s Best Bar, PDT (Please Don’t Tell) in New York, has some invaluable advice on cocktail bar etiquette. Amongst his top tips is the rule never to ask a bartender “what’s good?”. It’s all good, but, a bartender’s art is to serve a drink tailored to your preference, so, if you don’t recognise what’s on the menu, tell them what you like.

Amongst other top tips like respecting your bartender’s skill with an appropriate tip is to never expect to replace ingredients because of your sugar-free fad. As Jim puts it, the art of cocktail mixing is creating the perfect balance, which requires a sweetener to counteract the bitters. If you do not want to consume sugar do not choose a cocktail!

What Makes the Best Cocktail?

Ask any bartender around the world, ask any drinks critic what makes the best cocktail and they will tell you that the ‘best’ depends entirely on the tastes of the drinker. One man’s Fernet is another woman’s Louis Roederer Champagne, one man’s Vodka Martini shaken not stirred could be the same man’s Vesper Martini, dependant on his mood.

You now have the lingo, the know-how, the etiquette to spend your money wisely and select your bar, your company, your drink of choice. You can now make a confident entrance into any select gathering, assured that you will be welcomed.

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