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Sarah Scrimshire

Your Signature Cocktail in 4 Easy Steps

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Everyone wants to be remembered for a signature cocktail, right? Not sure where to start? Let’s follow these simple steps to create your own!

My husband’s uncle is known for his GIN and tonics (gin in all caps because it’s in-forward 😉 haha) But after a long day, I always look forward to one of those! I can never make them the same as he does, so I think that is exactly what makes a signature cocktail!

your signature cocktail

Start with the Spirit

We’ve got spirit, yes we do, we’ve for the spirit how ’bout you?! First, select the base of your signature cocktail! Are you into bourbon, rye, gin, vodka, rum? Think about it!

  1. Whiskey (or Whisky): Whiskey is a distilled alcoholic beverage made from fermented grain mash. The grains used in its production can include barley, corn, rye, and wheat. It is aged in wooden casks, typically oak barrels, which imparts flavors and character to the spirit. There are different types of whiskey, including Scotch whisky, Irish whiskey, bourbon, and rye whiskey, each with unique production methods and taste profiles.
  2. Vodka: Vodka is a clear and typically colorless distilled spirit, often made from grains or potatoes. Its defining characteristic is its high alcohol content and relative lack of flavor or aroma. Vodka is known for its versatility and is often used in cocktails or consumed neat due to its smooth, clean taste.
  3. Rum: Rum is a spirit made from sugarcane byproducts, such as molasses, or directly from sugarcane juice. It is usually aged in oak barrels, but unaged versions also exist. The aging process gives rum its various colors and flavors, ranging from light and delicate to dark and robust. Rum is often associated with tropical cocktails and has a distinctive sweetness.
  4. Tequila: Tequila is a spirit produced primarily in Mexico from the blue agave plant. There are two main types of tequila: 100% agave tequila and mixto tequila. The former is made solely from agave, while the latter contains a blend of agave and other sugars. Tequila has a range of styles, from Blanco (unaged) to Reposado (aged 2-12 months) and Añejo (aged 1-3 years), each offering different flavors and complexities.
  5. Gin: Gin is a clear spirit made from neutral grain alcohol infused with botanicals, most notably juniper berries. The botanical mix can include various herbs, spices, fruits, and flowers, giving each gin its unique taste profile. Gin is a key ingredient in classic cocktails such as the Martini and the Gin and Tonic.
  6. Brandy: Brandy is a spirit distilled from wine or fermented fruit juice. It is usually aged in oak barrels, and the aging process gives brandy its amber color and smooth, rich taste. Popular types of brandy include Cognac and Armagnac, both made from specific grape varieties in specific regions of France.
  7. Liqueurs: Liqueurs are sweetened spirits that are flavored with various ingredients such as fruits, herbs, spices, nuts, or cream. They typically have a lower alcohol content compared to other spirits and are often enjoyed as digestifs or in cocktails. Popular examples include Amaretto, Grand Marnier, and Kahlua.

Each main spirit has its distinct characteristics and history, and they are used in a wide array of cocktails and enjoyed in various ways by people around the world.

Basic Signature Cocktail Formulas

Up next, deciding your cocktail. Every cocktail has a basic formula to follow and once you understand the basic formula, you can pretty much add or take away whatever you like! One of the most fun ways to make a classic cocktail your own signature cocktail, is to think of different simple syrups to make- these can be sweet, savory, or citrusy. I love making thyme simple syrup and a thyme bourbon smash is a delicious combination.

Cocktails can be as simple or complex as you like, but there are some basic formulas that you can follow to create classic and popular drinks. These formulas provide a starting point, and you can always adjust the proportions based on your taste preferences. Here are some basic cocktail formulas for your signature cocktail:

  1. Old Fashioned: By far the easiest in my opinion to make your own signature cocktail!
    • 2 oz whiskey (bourbon or rye)1 sugar cube or 1/2 oz simple syrup2-3 dashes of Angostura bitters Garnish: Orange twist and/or maraschino cherry
    Method: Muddle the sugar cube and bitters in an Old Fashioned glass. Add whiskey and stir with ice until chilled. Garnish with an orange twist and/or maraschino cherry.
  2. Martini:
    • 2 1/2 oz gin or vodka (depending on your preference)
    • 1/2 oz dry vermouth (for a dry Martini) or 1 oz vermouth (for a wet Martini)
    • Garnish: Olive or lemon twist
    Method: Stir the gin or vodka with vermouth in a mixing glass filled with ice until chilled. Strain into a chilled Martini glass and garnish with an olive or lemon twist.
  3. Margarita: Another easy one to make into a signature cocktail!
    • 2 oz tequila1 oz triple sec or orange liqueur3/4 oz fresh lime juice1/2 oz simple syrup (optional, adjust to taste)Garnish: Lime wedge or salt rim (optional)
    Method: Shake all the ingredients with ice in a cocktail shaker. Strain into a salt-rimmed rocks glass filled with ice. Garnish with a lime wedge if desired.
  4. Mojito:
    • 2 oz white rum
    • 3/4 oz fresh lime juice
    • 1 oz simple syrup
    • 6-8 fresh mint leaves
    • Soda water (club soda)
    Method: Muddle the mint leaves with lime juice and simple syrup in a highball glass. Fill the glass with crushed ice, add the rum, and stir. Top off with soda water and garnish with a mint sprig.
  5. Cosmopolitan:
    • 2 oz vodka
    • 1 oz triple sec or Cointreau
    • 3/4 oz fresh lime juice
    • 1/2 oz cranberry juice
    • Garnish: Lime wheel or twist
    Method: Shake all the ingredients with ice in a cocktail shaker. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a lime wheel or twist.

These are just a few examples of basic cocktail formulas. You can experiment with different spirits, mixers, and garnishes to create your own signature drinks or variations on these classics. Remember to taste as you go and adjust the proportions to suit your personal preference.

This is one of my favorite recipes to use to create cocktails and turn them into my own – Cocktail Formulas. It breaks down so many classic cocktails into the exact amounts and you can search by spirit– so it makes it extra easy to navigate! Become your own mixologist!

Time to Garnish

Remember those gin and tonics I mentioned? Well, those always come with a lime wedge! Think about any fruits or even fun food garnishes to throw on your cocktail! We made a peanut butter and jelly cocktail with Skrewball and Chambord- with a toasted mini PB&J sandwich of course! We have also garnished with mini waffles before. Think about the cocktail you prepared and the flavors of garnish that would go well! Want your signature cocktail to be a bloody mary- think about making a mini slider on a skewer! Your guests will know if they come to our house for brunch, they’ll always get a snack with your signature cocktail!

Fun and creative food garnishes can add a delightful touch to cocktails, making them visually appealing and enhancing the overall drinking experience. Here are some fun food garnishes for cocktails:

  1. Fruit Skewers: Thread bite-sized fruits like berries, melon balls, or pineapple chunks onto cocktail picks or skewers and place them on the rim of the glass. They add a burst of color and flavor to your drink.
  2. Citrus Zest Twists: Cut long, thin strips of citrus zest (orange, lemon, or lime) and twist them into spirals. Drop one or two twists into the drink or use them as a garnish on the glass rim.
  3. Candied Ginger or Fruit: Garnish with a piece of candied ginger or a slice of candied fruit for a sweet and chewy treat alongside your cocktail.
  4. Herb Sprigs: Fresh herbs like mint, basil, or rosemary not only add a pop of green but also infuse the drink with aromatic flavors. Place the herb sprig on top of the drink or use it as a stirrer.
  5. Edible Flowers: Use edible flowers such as violets, pansies, or nasturtiums as a delicate and beautiful garnish for cocktails. Make sure they are safe to eat and haven’t been treated with any harmful chemicals.
  6. Spiced Rim: Coat the rim of the glass with various spices, such as cinnamon sugar, chili powder, or cocoa powder, to complement the cocktail’s flavors.
  7. Fruit Slices: Add thin slices of fruits like oranges, lemons, limes, or cucumbers to the side of the glass for an elegant and refreshing touch.
  8. Candies or Gummies: Drop a fun candy or gummy into the cocktail for a playful and whimsical garnish.
  9. Mini Donuts or Pastries: Skewer a mini donut, pastry, or cookie on a cocktail pick and place it on the glass. This is particularly fun for dessert cocktails.
  10. Bacon or Salty Snacks: For savory cocktails, a crisp bacon strip or salty snack like pretzels can be an unexpected and tasty garnish.

Let’s Name it!

The most fun part of crafting your signature cocktail is to give it a memorable name! Think about your name, nickname, something special about you, your location, etc!

Naming a signature cocktail requires a mix of creativity, relevance, and uniqueness to make it stand out and be memorable. Here’s a step-by-step guide to help you come up with the perfect name for your signature drink:

  1. Know the Essence of the Cocktail: Understand the flavors, ingredients, and inspiration behind the cocktail. Consider the base spirits, mixers, garnishes, and any unique or special touches that set it apart.
  2. Consider the Occasion or Venue: If you’re creating a signature cocktail for a specific event or venue, take into account the theme, atmosphere, or purpose of the place. A name that fits the occasion will add to the overall experience.
  3. Brainstorm Keywords: Make a list of keywords associated with the cocktail’s taste, appearance, occasion, or inspiration. These could be flavors, colors, locations, moods, or anything else that relates to the drink.
  4. Wordplay and Puns: Get creative with wordplay and puns related to the keywords you’ve brainstormed. Play with rhymes, alliteration, and double meanings to craft an engaging and clever name.
  5. Evoke Emotions or Imagery: Consider how you want people to feel when they drink your cocktail. Use descriptive or evocative words that can paint a picture in their minds or elicit a particular emotion.
  6. Keep it Short and Memorable: Aim for a name that is easy to remember, pronounce, and fits well on a menu or cocktail list. Short and snappy names tend to stick in people’s minds.
  7. Test the Name: Once you have a few name ideas, share them with friends, family, or colleagues to get feedback. See how they react to the names and if they find them appealing.
  8. Add a Story or Backstory: If there’s an interesting story or inspiration behind the cocktail, consider incorporating that into the name. A compelling backstory can make the drink even more intriguing!

Remember, the name of a signature cocktail can significantly influence its popularity, so invest some effort into finding the perfect one. Have fun with the creative process and let your imagination flow!

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