Today let’s learn how to use sours, sour mix and how acidity impacts a cocktail. We’ll explain citric acid, malic acid and the family of acid you can use to sour your cocktail.
The original definition of “cockt-tail” didn’t call for a sour component or even talk about acidity in cocktails. I believe this was because most early cocktails were spirit-based. In some instances, these spirits were ‘sweetened’ with liqueurs and sugars because the alcohol was so potent (and sometimes awful). Distillation has become an art form today and the spirits distillers are creating are beautiful liquids of complex flavor and texture.
First, the core element of ‘sour’ in most cocktails is citric acid. When I was a doe eyed college student I purchased a box of “Bar-Tenders Instance Whiskey Sour Mix” because a few cocktails called for “sour mix.” I never knew how to use them and eventually just threw out the box; turns out the two main ingredients in that packet of ‘mix’ was sugar and citric acid! I was so close to understanding acidity in cocktails, but it would be years before balance made sense to me.
If you’re designing a cocktail recipe or tasting someone’s creation and the cocktail feels like it’s “missing” something, then look into the acidity. In many cases an unbalanced cocktail either tastes sweet (lacking acidity) or just hollow (low acidity). Combining the correct ratio of sweet, sour and spirit usually creates a good craft cocktail balance.
You can find a rock solid ratio of 2:1:1 with a two core spirit ratios against one part sour (acid) and one part sweet. A cocktail designed as a “sour” may balance the sour higher than sweet, but it will still contain some level of sweet.
In conclusion, you should always consider a sour or sour mix as part of your cocktail design. It’s not the 1980’s anymore, you’re now allowed to create a well balance craft cocktail. Balance is only complete when you can bring a sour into a sweet and allow the spirit and any other flavorful components to become part of the taste.
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Common Man Cocktails, inspired by Derrick Schommer’s intimidation when opening a cocktail book, is designed to show viewers how to create some of the most common cocktails to advanced crazy cocktails and to look back at the classics of yesterday. Derrick has learned as he goes and has been actively creating five recipes a week on the channel for over six years, lots of content to keep you entertained for hours!
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