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Balancing Alcohol Flavor

The Spectrum of Alcohol Flavor

ABA CDF-Balance (Alcohol Flavor) Slide 1The last of the “spectrums” we’ll talk about with regard to cocktail balance is Alcohol. In this context, we are talking about the taste of alcohol, and its affect on the overall balance of a drink.

To start with, I’d like to point out that different drinks are considered “balanced” with varying degrees of alcohol flavor coming through. I think you’ll agree a balanced Manhattan will certainly taste more strongly of alcohol than, for example, a balanced mojito. We will discuss the various cocktail families and their ideal degrees of alcohol flavor in the Cocktail Families course unit.

For now, we’re going to focus on the ways that you can adjust for alcohol flavor in a cocktail.

ABA CDF-Balance (Alcohol Flavor) Slide 3Adding Alcohol Flavor:

If there isn’t enough alcohol in a drink, or if a drink is made with too much juice and sweetener mixed in, the alcohol taste can get lost in the mix. There are two simple ways to adjust the cocktail to correct for this:

  1. The obvious option is to simply add more alcohol.
    The key consideration here is to ensure that you account for the overall volume of the drink. If you add an ounce of spirit to a 4 oz cocktail, it may be more balanced but it’s also 5 ounces – and may not even fit in the glass! Make sure to proportionally decrease the volumes of the other liquids to ensure overall volume is consistent.
  2. Another way to adjust without having to change the ingredient proportions is to switch out your alcohol for a similar spirit with higher proof. Switching from an 80 proof to 100 proof rum can solve this problem and will be an easy substitution with very little adjustments necessary.

ABA CDF-Balance (Alcohol Flavor) Slide 4Removing Alcohol Flavor:

On the other end of the spectrum, if a cocktail has too much alcohol the drink will be very intense, and the alcohol burn will be noticeable. This is can be a common problem with drinks that call for many different types of alcohols like a Last Word, or a Corpse Reviver #2. Sometimes the problem will be that one spirit is dominating the drink, and other times the problem may just be that the combination of all of the spirits together has become too great for the overall volume of the drink.

  1. Reduce the Alcohol.
    In this case the remedy is to either find the spirit that is dominating, and reduce how much you are using, or reduce the proportions of all the spirits entirely.
  2. Another option would be to attempt to substitute one or more of the spirit components with similar, lower-proofed spirits.
    Depending on what you are starting with, this may not always be possible, but certainly an option to consider.