Drinking alcohol can be, for the most part, a lot of fun — but even if you are not the next Brian Flanagan (or even Moe Syzlak), making cocktails is an even more adventurous way to enjoy your Friday night drinks. Though there are an abundance of recommendations and guides available, whether or not you have already dipped your toe in the world of mixology, this list is intended to bring you up to the next tier. We have chosen three inventive additions you can make to bring that extra spark to your homemade margaritas, manhattans and mojitos — and more.
1. Try CBD drinks
Tired of mocktails? If alcohol is not your bag, this one’s for you. Cannabidiol (CBD) is a chemical compound extracted from the cannabis plant, but it contains little to no tetrahydrocannabinol (THC), which is the psychoactive compound that gives cannabis users a ‘high’. Linked to alleviating stress and improving focus, this is due its interaction with the endocannabinoid system, which plays a role in the modulation of neurotransmitters in the brain.
Opting for a CBD beverage combined with a use, herb or garnish of choice can leave users calmer during social interactions, especially if they have anxiety around those situations. The gurus at TRIP also point out that it can potentially soften feelings of anxiety, and if you are mixing this special beverage with a spirit, it can even alleviate “the feeling of dread that many experience after a night of booze”. That way, you unwind with a stress-free sip and avoid aches and pains in the morning.
2. Dehydrate your garnish
Dehydrated fruit and other items have become all the rage in the past few years. You may have noticed that last Old Fashioned or Negroni you had sporting an orange or grapefruit slice inside that looks peculiarly aged. This effect can be achieved by dehydration over a few days, and will make your cocktails look more sophisticated, and serve as a garnish that maintains the balance of the drink.
Simply slice up your chosen fruit (leaving peel on as you would normally) evenly, while bearing in mind that, the thinner the slice, the less time it will take to dry out. Advanced Mixology also recommends that “as with most dehydrated citrus wheels, cut slices not too thick to avoid a bitter taste”.
Next, place them on an oven tray with some baking paper, and some lemon juice — you are best off buying bottled, as this way you can evenly spray over the slices. Put the tray in the oven at between 90-100°C and check consistently over the course of a few hours. Once you are happy with the result, leave to cool. One final important detail is to seal them in a jar or other container, as this will protect the slices from oxidation and turning brown.
3. Infuse your alcohol
In the words of the Spruce: “Infusions are both fun and limitless. The basic concept is to add a single flavour, or a combination of flavours, to a distilled spirit using fruits, vegetables, herbs, or spices”. All you need is time and a dash of creativity, and soon you may be boasting a cupboard full of homemade Raspberry Gin, Orange Whisky and Pineapple Rum — the opportunities are endless.
To do so, grab your fresh herbs, spices or fruits, mason jar, cheesecloth or filtering mesh, and your weapon (spirit) of choice. Prepare by simply cutting evenly and giving your ingredients a cold rinse, making sure that fruits are sliced so as to fit into your jar, and peeled if necessary.
Put the fruits or other ingredients in the jar alongside your spirit, seal tightly, and shake. Your infusion should then be kept in a cool and dark place — you just need to shake the jar and taste once a day throughout the process. For most herbs, three to four days will cut it, but fruits take a little longer at around a week or so. Taste-test to see when the liquid has reached the desired flavour, and then sieve or strain the ingredients using your mesh or filter into a new, clean jar.