Chris introduces a cocktail which can be the foundation of a good Mixology programI’d recommend mastering this cocktail as your first step in learning cocktail creation.

Which cocktail is that? Think of Whiskey Sour, a Gimlet, a Margarita – they’re all actually the same cocktail.

The First Cocktail you Should Master: The Sour

The “Sour” is actually not a cocktail – it’s a Family of cocktails. They are originally described by Jerry Thomas in “How to Mix Drinks” from way back in 1862 (thanks to Paul from The Cocktail Chronicles!) Sours are drinks containing:

  • A Base Liquor
  • Lemon or Lime juice
  • A Sweetener

Looking at this list, you can immediately see the possibilities are endless!

Stainless Steel Boston Shaker Set

This is my ideal Boston shaker combination. The larger tin is weighted to add rigidity but the smaller is unweighted to give the best seal. We designed this shaker to be the perfect shaker for the busiest bartender – durable, easy to use, and easy to open every time (without losing a drop!)

Give it a try!

Try building some sours behind your bar – try new liquors or sweeteners.  If you’re beyond that, consider infused liquors or infused simple syrups. (or both!)  When making your common sours like Margaritas, Whiskey Sours, Sidecars etc. – try swapping out ingredients and see what you can create.  You’ll be amazed the variety that can come from just one family of cocktails!

As always thanks for joining us! Check out the transcript below, and leave a comment to let us know what you think!

Click Here to view the Transcript

Hi Everyone, Welcome back to another video here at ABarAbove. Today we will be focusing on how to achieve balance in your cocktails. In a previous post we were talking about how to separate your sweet rom your sour. We focused on both, one video on the sweet, one video on the sour. Today we are going to combine those elements and teach you the first cocktail you should master and the power behind it. The cocktail is called a sour. So think of a Whiskey sour, think of a gimlet, think of a margarita, even a daiquiri is part of that family of cocktails. Once you master it you will have infinite possibilities and an amazing reach in your cocktail realm and you’ll really be able to flex you culinary and mixology muscles for your guests, which I’m sure your guests will appreciate. Let’s analyze the big picture of what’s going on in a sour. You have 3 variables which you can differentiate. You have your Spirits, you have your sweet and you have your sour. We are going to go into each of those categories and see how we are going to frame some of these creations. As far as the liquor goes, anything is fair game. You could vodka, you could gin, tequila, even sweet liqueurs. Think of an Amaretto sour. Any of the alcohols out there are completely open to this cocktail family. Typically in my sours, I like to add egg whites, but we are going to save egg whites for a different video and get a better understanding on how to incorporate egg whites into cocktails. Now let’s focus even more on the alcohol. So you have all those different alcohols and one of the things you can do to differentiate your cocktails from any other cocktails out there is by infusing any of those base spirits that we talked about. So think of a Vanilla Bean Daquiri- (I would order that, it sounds delicious.) How about a Hibiscus Margarita? You had me at Hi-Biscus. This is how you can make these cocktails your own based off of the framework that has been provided with these classic cocktails. Now let’s look at the souring agent. Traditionally in sours you will be using lemon juice, but don’t really limit yourself to that. Even in the cocktails we talked about, the Gimlet, uses lime juice. If you’re feeling a little adventurous try using both. Use a little bit of lemon and a little bit of lime and see what happens. Just try it, taste it and see what you think. Now you can begin to explore other ideas and other souring possibilities. So think of that Vanilla bean Daquiri that we talked about. Maybe we do a Vanilla Bean Daquiri with fresh kumquats muddled in there, and now you have a vanilla bean infused kumquat Daquiri. The Price of your cocktail just went up $2, not only that, but your cool factor is starting to go through the roof. That’s pretty amazing. Now let’s reexamine that Hibiscus one. Maybe on this cocktail we do a fresh cranberry hibiscus margarita. If you keep going down this road, you’re going to be taking my job from me. Now let’s look at the sugar in the sweetening portion of these drinks. Typically what you would use is simple syrup. You could use other alternatives too like demarara sugar, cane syrup, you could even use Stevia if you wanted to, but there are other things you could be doing too. For example, let’s take a look at those 2 cocktails we’ve been having a little bit of fun with so far. Let’s say we have the Vanilla Bean infused kumquat Daquiri and now you add a cinnamon and Cardamom simple syrup to it. That’s pretty amazing right there and I’m not even sure if that’s legal. That’s a pretty cool cocktail. As far as the fresh cranberry and hibiscus margarita, how about doing a rosemary and ginger simple syrup, that’s pretty epic right there. Now you’re instantly going to differentiate yourself from most of the other bartenders around you and most of the other mixology restaurant and bars in your neighborhood. This is only one family of cocktails, think of the possibilities. This is the power of understanding this one cocktail so intricately, is that you can really play with these variables and you can instantly step up, almost instantly, your creative ability behind the bar and your guests will definitely appreciate that. Now you’re beginning to go down the road to becoming a mixologist with this one drink. Like I said, let’s really focus on this one cocktail, really hone it in and understand the concepts behind it. You could actually fill an entire cocktail menu in this style of drink. I’ve done it before in one of my first cocktail menus, I just went off this formula and everyone was really excited about it. So really have fun with this and enjoy the process of creating these cocktails and have a great time. Some of the other things that we are working on that I am really excited about to give to you guys. I’ve been talking a lot about my training series and we are still very much looking forward to giving that to you in July. It’s one of those resources that I wish I had when I first started tending bar and making a step from bartender to mixologist. I pretty much had to train myself or really research each one of these steps and it quite a bit of time to understand the theory behind it and the skills. You get to learn from all my experience behind the bar over the last 10 years. The other thing is if you visit, we’ve created a newsletter. You just put in your e-mail address and you’ll get a PDF that I’ve put together for you titled “10 steps to owning your restaurants cocktail menu.” It goes through the 10 things that you should really do to begin to step up your game behind the bar, and really differentiate yourself and show that you’re really passionate about what you do. So please visit the site, take a look around, and drop me an e-mail, look me up on Facebook and give me some feedback. I’d love to hear what you guys are thinking, not only that, I’d love to hear what you guys would like to learn. That’s why I’m here. I’m trying to give you as much knowledge as I can. Until next time, thank you guys very much. I hope you guys have a great shift and cheers.

Chris Tunstall

Co-Founder of A Bar Above and career bartender and mixologist. I love experimenting, creating cocktails, and drinking Green Chartreuse.