Let’s straighten this out now; flat Coke out of a plastic two-liter with cheap whiskey does not count as a cocktail.
A cocktail isn’t about the quick buzz. It’s about the sensory experience; the sound of ice clattering against a steel shaker, or the color of a liquid brimming in a shaped glass, oh, and definitely the taste of finely mixed ingredients.
But you don’t have to be an expert mixologist to create a fine cocktail. In fact, with the right hardware and liquor it’s pretty easy according to Brad Beckerman, the CEO of STILLHOUSE Spirits -- a distiller of clear corn-based moonshine.
Here’s all a guy needs to craft a decent cocktail. This list isn’t comprehensive. The Cocktail world is large and can get as complicated as you want. But for the amateur barkeep, these are the essentials.
As the workhorse behind a finely mixed beverage, you’re going to want to invest in a nice shaker. Beckerman says getting one with a built-in strainer is ideal. Go for copper or stainless steel. “Copper keeps the drink colder, and neither copper nor stainless steel will rust,” he says.
Beckerman is adamant; don’t skimp on the star of the show. “As a purist, I’m telling you I want the best,” he says.
There’s a caveat though: Vodka.
“Vodka is distilled at such a high temperature that it strips out all of the flavor,” he says. That makes it a perfect component in a mixed beverage because you can easily mask the liquor taste. But by masking with other ingredients, it means you don’t need top-shelf booze.
With the right tool, you can muddle ingredients straight inside the shaker. To do it right, Beckerman recommends putting the fruit in first, muddling it, then putting in a hefty layer of ice, finally pouring over the spirits and mixer. This way the ice protects the liquid from unnecessary chunks while still infusing it with flavor.
Presentation is as important as process Beckerman says. You need the right glass for the right cocktail. Varieties abound, but for the beginner just know that drinks not poured over ice should go into a shallow glass, while drinks in ice need a taller variety.
As a purveyor of premium hooch, Beckerman would be remiss to not highlight the features of his favorite base spirit. True moonshine, he says, is 100 percent corn whiskey, which is exactly what STILLHOUSE distills.
“Seventy-five percent of base liquor in cocktails served behind a bar are clear,” Beckerman says. That’s because clear liquor mixes better than its colored counterpart.
Because Stillhouse moonshine is clear, it strikes a rare balance -- becoming an easily mixable whiskey. For bartenders, this is a godsend Beckerman says. It allows them to introduce the taste attributes of whiskey into traditional clear-spirit based cocktails like the Bloody Mary.
“The corn comes out so you get the sweetness of the corn mixed with the acidity of the tomato,” he says. “It will be the best Bloody Mary you’ve ever tasted.”
Try out the recipe here:
2 oz STILLHOUSE® Original Moonshine 3 oz tomato juice 1 Tbsp lemon juice Salt & black pepper to taste 3 dashes Worcestershire sauce 2 drops Tabasco
Put all ingredients into a cocktail shaker, combine ingredients over ice and shake until cold. Strain into a martini glass. Garnish with lemon wedge, celery stalk, or green olives.