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Easy to make, easy to enjoy: Equal parts cocktails make for effortless holiday entertaining

Time:2016-12-29 18:12wine - Red wine life health Click:

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Streamlined and stylish, “equal parts” sippers fit the bill for holiday entertaining. Fortunately, as spirits and cocktail writer Kara Newman points out, some of the world’s best cocktails also happen to be the easiest to make.

In her latest book, Shake. Stir. Sip. (Chronicle Books, 2016), Newman celebrates the effortless side of mixing drinks at home. No DIY bitters, or infused simple syrups and liquors necessary – each of the more than 50 cocktails is poured in equal parts using easily attainable components.

“People are very familiar with sophisticated cocktails, and younger people have grown up with this very sophisticated bar culture. Everyone knows what a good drink should taste like. They don’t necessarily want to pull out all the stops when they’re making it at home,” Newman says.

Chronicle Books

“The place for that, a lot of people believe, is in a bar. I think we have this backlash right now away from really baroque, complicated drinks at home. And I’ve deliberately tried to make the drink formats and the ingredients approachable.”

The Negroni – a classic Italian aperitivo – kicked off her fascination with equal parts cocktails. Its triad of gin, Campari, and sweet vermouth has inspired variations such as the Boulevardier (bourbon instead of gin) and Negroni Sbagliato (sparkling wine instead of gin).

“I love a Negroni, I really do. One of my favourite drinks in the book is a variation called the Toffee Negroni (aged rum, Aperol, and Amontillado sherry; recipe follows),” she says.

“Every last ingredient has been switched out and it’s still a Negroni template (spirit-modifier-fortified wine): it’s still equal parts, it’s still served the same way, and it still has the same Negroni DNA. There are so many drinks that have that kind of template and are easy to riff off of.”

The Toffee Negroni, with its deep flavours and notes of citrus, is an excellent fit with the holidays. Newman advises scaling it ahead of time for a group: bottle it, and refrigerate until needed. Give it a good shake just prior to serving, and pour it over ice or directly into a coupe glass.

As an alternate aperitif, Newman recommends the Bamboo Cocktail (recipe follows): “A little dry sherry, a little dry vermouth, a little orange bitters and Angostura bitters – that’s another one that would be lovely to batch up and pour out.”

For fireside, after-dinner sipping, Newman suggests the Brandy Alexander (recipe follows); a classic holiday cocktail that she says would also work well scaled for a crowd, and served in the spirit of a brandy milk punch.

John Lee

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