Since using fresh ingredients is one of the keystone concepts for craft mixology, it’s not surprising that seasonal cocktails are very common in craft cocktail bars. If you’re going to use fresh ingredients, you’re going to need to update your menu to reflect what’s in season as the year goes by.
Designing a Cocktail Based on a Seasonal Ingredient:
What’s in Season?
What’s in the grocery store isn’t necessarily in season. To find out what’s in season, go to your local farmer’s market or do some online research. If you’re working in a restaurant, the chef can also be a great resource for what’s in season at a given time. In my example, I decided to work with strawberry.
Choose a Cocktail Family
Once an ingredient is chosen, review the Cocktail Families Quick Reference guide (which you can find here) to see which you’d like to work with. Or you can do what I did and start with a smash and you’ll have the option of adapting it into a sour or fizz if needed for balance.
Map it out on the Balance Worksheet
Here’s a copy of my Balance worksheet for you to review. Writing out the cocktail will allow you to see any obvious imbalances before you invest your product in a drink. If needed, adjust the types or amounts of your ingredients to rebalance the cocktail.
Make the Drink
Make the drink and taste it. Until you’ve done this quite a bit, you’ll probably need to re-balance at this stage, and that’s ok. Adjust using the concepts we outlined in the Balance chapter.
Once your recipe is complete, choose a Garnish. As we discussed in the Garnish module, choose something that either tells the customer something about the drink or adds flavor you’d like to introduce. In my example I decided to garnish with a Rosemary Salt Rim to add an herbal quality, playing on the herbal nature of the gin.
This has been a pretty simple case study to take you through the process end-to-end. In the next few pages we’ll look at more complicated examples where more re-balancing was necessary.