Heritage Day, or Braai Day, is a time for entertaining, relaxing, eating, drinking and being merry – especially since we’ll also be backing our boys in the rugby this weekend! Delicious mixed drinks are a great way to celebrate special occasions but much like choosing what sides to make with your braai, deciding on drinks, cocktails and mocktails can be a source of stress.
There’s a lot that goes into making the perfect drink but thankfully, it’s easier than one would think. Malcolm Johani, mixologist at Radisson RED Cape Town V&A Waterfront, shares expert tips on how to achieve the perfect cocktail this Braai Day Weekend. With the help of these essential tools and ingredients in your home bar you’ll be able to impress your friends and loved ones without a doubt!
Get the ratio right
For a perfectly flavour-balanced cocktail, follow the mixology golden ratio of 2:1:1. This equates to two parts spirit, one part sweet, and one part sour. To achieve the golden cocktail-making ratio you’ll begin with two parts of your spirit of choice: vodka, tequila, gin, or rum – whatever you have. Add this to a mixing tin with ice. Measure out one part of a sweet ingredient: simple syrup, vermouth, triple sec, etc. and add that to your mixture. Finally, measure out one part of something sour: lime juice, lemon juice, or sour mix, and pour into your tin.
Ice, ice baby
Whether your guests enjoy a neat cocktail or refreshing iced one, it’s important to understand when and when not to add ice to your homemade drink. You may think ice is solely used to chill your cocktail or slowly water it down, but iced-down cocktails can be quite controversial. As the ice melts, it dilutes your beverage which affects the flavour profile. Whilst some cocktails, like citrusy ones, are best enjoyed when chilled, others, particularly, dark-liquor cocktails require little to no ice at all.
Choose the right glassware
Selecting the right glassware is equally as important as perfecting the mixology. To achieve a Radisson Hotel worthy cocktail, serve it in the proper glass. This is because glass can affect the taste, aroma, and temperature of your drink. While there are many different cocktail glasses, the most popular (and arguably most important) are:
Martini glass: Not only is it stylish but it’s also designed to keep the drinker’s hands off the glass and on the stem, and prevents the drink from becoming warm.
Copper mug: Copper mugs are typically used to keep drinks icy cold. This is because copper is a great temperature conductor.
Rocks glass: Perfectly sized for 60ml of liquor, ice, and a garnish. This is the perfect glass for cocktails that don’t have many ingredients in them.
Highball glass: This is similar to the rocks glass, only taller and perfectly sized for cocktails made with the golden ratio in mind.
Hurricane glass: This fun glass is synonymous with a seaside summer vacation. These are usually the largest glasses in a bartender’s arsenal and are used to hold more liquid (and more liquor).
Have fun with aromatics
Spice up your weekend drinks by adding whole spices and fresh herbs to your cocktails. Johani advises to not limit your creativity when adding aromatics. Rosemary, thyme, basil, and lavender are just as delicious as the old favourite, mint.
Some flavour combinations to try are:
- Strawberry or watermelon + basil
- Lime + mint
- Citrus + lavender
- Lemon + rosemary
- Blackberry + rosemary
- Blackberry + black pepper
- Lemon + honey + thyme
- Cucumber + lime + basil
- Cinnamon + apple
- Aniseed + orange
- Cardamom + bitter orange
Garnish and enjoy!
Finally, the last step to craft the perfect cocktail is garnish. Every great bartender knows that the garnish is meant to not only enhance appearance but also flavour advises Malcolm. A thin slice of orange peel brings out the aroma in an old-fashioned, a marinated olive pairs perfectly with a dirty martini and a paper umbrella compliments the daiquiri. Garnishes can determine the difference between a regular cocktail and a perfect one.
If you don’t know where to begin, try Malcolm’s cocktail recipe below
Oh so Jolly!
- 50 ml Appleton Jamaican Rum
- 25 ml Grand marnier
- 50ml Wild berry tea
- 10ml Honey
Add all ingredients in a shaker, followed by ice and fresh rosemary and shake well. Pour the liquid into a French coupe glass, garnish with rosemary and orange and enjoy.
Looking to enjoy a booze-free braai?
Look no further. This recipe, and most cocktail recipes in fact, doubles as a non-alcoholic beverage with the below ingredients:
- 50ml Orange essence (grand marnier substitute)
- 50ml Wild Berry tea
- 10ml Honey