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Monday, July 12, 2010

Entertaining 101: How to mass produce your signature cocktail

A useful technique for your home cocktail parties in Salt Lake City or across the globe is to select a signature cocktail and then have all its ingredients and garnishes on deck before your guests arrive.  The prudent (and considerate) mixologist should also have a selection of soft-drinks, mixers, wines, and beers ready for anyone who doesn’t want a cocktail or who just doesn’t quite like the sound (or the key ingredient) of your signature cocktail.  As your mixology skills improve and you become more experienced in experimenting with new recipes, you will have few problems coming up with a signature cocktail that will appeal to most (or all) of your guests.  Another phenomenon you will notice as your skills improve is that fewer and fewer of your guests will request a different drink.  In early days the Utah Mixologist only had about a 50% acceptance rate on signature cocktails, but the last time he offered a “new” signature cocktail (the venerable Vieux Carré) at an intimate gathering, the request rate was a cool 100%.  So how does a mixologist meet the challenge of mixing and serving six cocktails (or more) without keeping his/her guests waiting?  By scaling up the recipe and (sometimes) pre-combining most of the ingredients.

Scaling up the recipe is simple if you know your multiplication, and if you’re having a small party, you don’t even have to do it in advance.  For six Manhattans, for example, all you’ll need is 12 ounces Rye (or Bourbon) whiskey, 3 ounces sweet vermouth, and 12 dashes Angostura® bitters combined in a suitable container.  For much larger gatherings, you should combine ingredients in advance and set aside (or even place in the fridge).  Be sure to double check your math before combining truly mass quantities for a large gathering.  You can stir up six or eight cocktails at once in a pitcher, or just measure out 2 ½ ounces of the mix for each Manhattan you want to stir in a smaller mixing glass.  Don’t, by the way, add perishables like fruit juices or egg whites until you are ready to mix.  Six or more cocktails can easily be accommodated in a pitcher like the one full of Vesper Martinis in the photo.   As a side note: do you remember those old movies where Dad would get home from work and stir up a pitcher of Martinis for three or four people?  As a youngster, the Utah Mixologist never realized how much those people must have been putting away!  Not good: always drink responsibly and don’t over do it.  Enjoy your next cocktail party!

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