We doubt that anyone reading this will be a cocktail virgin; after all, you’ve come to Neptune Bars’ website to read our blog, which is about World Cocktail Day … you must know your Tom Collins’ from your Sex On The Beach, right?
Most of us will, at some point in our lives have had a cocktail, even if it’s only mixing bubbles and OJ for a classic Bucks’ Fizz - it’s still a cocktail. If you’ve ever stood in wonder and awe and watched a mixologist at work, before drinking the results of their labour, this is for you (did we mention that, although cocktails are not a staple on the Neptune Bars drinks menu, Mat makes a pretty mean concoction himself!).
The origin of the cocktail
The Oxford dictionary provides the definition of a cocktail as ‘an alcoholic drink consisting of a spirit or spirits mixed with other ingredients, such as fruit juice or cream’. There are many reports of how cocktails came into being, some of which are cleaner than others, but what’s clear is that the concept of mixing alcoholic ingredients together to make a different drink has been around since at least 1803. According to Wikipedia, the first recorded mention of cocktail in the concept of a beverage was allegedly in the USA, in a publication called The Farmers Cabinet in that year.
The original ‘cocktail’ as it was, consisted of a mix of spirits, with sugar, water and bitters. In modern day terms, there are different types of cocktail; when a mixed drink contains only a distilled spirit and a mixer, such as fruit juice, it is a known as a ‘highball’. When a mixed drink contains only a distilled spirit and a liqueur, it is a ‘duo’, and when it adds a mixer, it is a ‘trio’.
The art of ‘mixology’, as making cocktails has come to be termed, was immortalised in the fabulous 1980s film ‘Cocktail’, starring Tom Cruise, Bryan Brown and Elizabeth Shue (if you haven’t seen it, are you even a cocktail fan?!).
How to make your own cocktails
The key to a good cocktail, like many things in life, is all in the preparation. You will need the following:
Premium spirits of your choice (cheaper spirits will do, but regular readers will know that we favour premium brands – it’s all in the taste)
- Quality juices, mixers and garnishes
- Appropriate glassware (there’s no point in spending time making a beautiful drink if you’re going to throw it in a plastic tumbler)
- Ice (LOTS of ice)
- Sugar syrup (you can buy this or make your own – Google is your friend!)
- A cocktail shaker
Okay, you don’t actually need that last one, but it’s good for effect when you’re making cocktails. It’s probably best not to try throwing a full shaker around the room like Tom Cruise unless you’ve had a bit of experience, nobody wants to have the expense of having their carpets cleaned professionally for the sake of a Martini.
It’s also a good idea to get yourself a good cocktail book; we like Gary Regan’s ‘The Joy of Mixology’, but there are a LOT of useful books on the market on the subject (including many specific to the UK).
Of course, the key thing is to enjoy making the cocktails and of course, enjoy drinking them too! If you’re planning on creating and imbibing on 13 May, do pop your creations up on social media – be sure to tag @NeptuneBars and use the #WorldCocktailDay hashtag. Bottoms up!