As tastes expand together with the popularity of mixology, however, more and more bartenders are experimenting with alternative sour ingredients and thicker styles of cocktails where yogurt can fit in very well. In fact, Bols offers a Yogurt Liqueur aimed at the mixers’ market.
Let’s take a look at some of the more interesting things you could do with yogurt behind the bar:
Yogurt & Fruit
For one, the sour taste of yogurt can complement certain cocktails extremely well. Yogurt goes extremely well with fruit, so why not add it to drinks containing fruity liqueurs? You can keep it simple, like a shot that mixed Bols’ yogurt liqueur with one of their fruit-based ones that was a real hit in one place where I worked (and cheap to boot, great for giveaways), or a drink that is more complicated and has the sour flavor as a subtle undertone. A great example is Eskimo Joe’s Drink which is a fun combination of several fruits that makes for great drinking on a late, sunny afternoon.
Since yogurt isn’t very common, there are endless variants that you can try behind your bar. I like to add yogurt to a Sex on the Beach or a Cosmo – in both cases it makes for a creamier, less-sweet version that is a great crowd pleaser. By adjusting old warhorses like these two you can ease your customers into this weird new flavor; hopefully they’ll thank you.
Yogurt for Texture
You could also aim to suppress the sour taste almost completely and use yogurt for creating a silky texture in your cocktails. In this case you might want to work with harder liquors, like whiskey or gin, to make the sourness of the yogurt a mere afterthought and just using it to smooth out your creation. Here are some great examples of bartenders designing cocktails with yogurt in mind.
If you feel ready to start out on your own, experiment with substituting the heavy cream found in after-dinner drinks with yogurt: though this can occasionally be a disaster (like when I tried shaking up a Grasshopper with yogurt, yuck!), you will sometimes find a winning new combination that is just what a customer is looking for.
Beware the Curdle
Before you go out and start trying out new things, though, a word of warning: yogurt, especially the fresh stuff, has a tendency to curdle. Just like any dairy ingredient, there is a risk that acid or high alcohol may curdle the yogurt and render your concoction undrinkable. Store your yogurt in the fridge between adding it to your cups, and make sure you’re using the freshest possible product. Avoid using acid in cocktails wherever possible, and consider incorporating low-acid fruit juices to bring down the cocktail’s alcohol content. Don’t shake it too vigorously; stirring it seems to work a lot better for me.
If you’re having a lot of trouble with your ingredients separating try using a thinner yogurt rather than a thicker one, the latter have a tendency to spontaneously settle in the bottom of their container.