Cocktail creations: tips for the party host
By Ines Min
Whether you’re partial to the simplicity of a gin and tonic, or ready to be bowled over by a string of Long Island iced teas, the cocktail has found a place in the casually lounging hands of men and women everywhere.
Though the New Year has officially begun and parties are winding down, these classic mixes of the smoothest liquor and punch of flavors are always the perfect accessories to any gathering — whether it’s at a neighborhood cafe or the luxurious setting of a sky-view bar.
“You can tell a bit what people like after a while,” Cho Min-ji, a senior bartender at Pierre’s Bar in Lotte Hotel, Sogong-dong, downtown Seoul, recently told The Korea Times. “But in the case of cocktails, people will tell you what they want first.”
And for those who know what they like, Pierre’s signature drink is a DIY cocktail, which allows the customer to mix and match their own flavors and proportions. Served on a rectangular dish, three glasses are provided: one for juice, one for alcohol and one for the ice.
The distinguishing characteristic is in the last part, that is, frozen fruit puree ice cubes. A variety of flavors — mango to cherry — can be chosen, and the opaque cubes slowly melt into a slushy burst of flavor within the glass.
“There is no one recipe for everyone, it all depends on what that person likes,” Cho said, which is why the signature drink allows for adjustments.
Of course, presentation is the other half of the cocktail. Pierre’s namesake drink incorporates a dusty white, clear and deep red: lemon juice, vodka and candied cherries in amaretto. Topped with a sprinkling of gold flakes, the white, red and luxurious yellow sits like a delectable confectionery.
Pierre’s cocktails and house specialty drinks range from 20,000 to 25,000 won. The bar is located on the 35th floor of Lotte Hotel.
Another place to explore your cocktail taste buds is Coffee Bar K in Cheongdam-dong, which has a large selection of single-malt whiskeys and bartenders who have placed among the finalists in the World Class Bartender of the Year competition. The Japanese chain also has locations in Tokyo and Singapore. Call (02) 516-1970 for more information.
Woo Bar at the W Hotel in Gwangjang-dong, southeastern Seoul, also serves a mean drink, surrounded by the comfortably posh interior of a luxury hotel. Call (02) 465-2222.
Avoid the crowds
Cho, who has worked at Pierre’s since it opened three years ago, offered her advice for those looking to stir up a concoction in their own home. While fruit puree might not be readily available at home, a good tip is to incorporate flavored ice cubes of any kind. Instead of melting into a watered down beverage, thawing will slowly release an added element to the overall flavor palette.
Juice suffices instead of puree, such as orange, cranberry or even apple juice. For the person who deals with no frivolous ornaments, tonic cubes can also be frozen for a strong gin and tonic.
Or, if you’re looking to cut out the cubes entirely, Cho suggests chopping strawberries or freezing them whole, and cooling the cocktail with the frozen fruit. The same can be done with any other fruits.
Although most know how to mix a classic drink, Cho offers some basic advice for experimenting.
“It all depends on the base,” she said. “If it’s strong flavored liquor, it’s hard to match.”
This might be why vodka is such a popular base, and other add-ins with strong flavors shied away from in Korea. Cho said that while she enjoys ginger ale in her cocktails, some stay away from the fizzy drink as they believe its perfume is overwhelming.
If champagne is your poison, French brand Piper Heidsieck offers an array of light bubbly. A recent collaboration with Christian Louboutin saw the creation of a champagne glass in the shape of an elegant high heel. Taking inspiration from the 1800s tradition of drinking from a lady’s slipper, the glass is a quirky vessel for a drink, adding to that level of presentation.
Champagne can also be paired with a range of flavors, from strawberry syrups to grapefruit juice (mimosa-style) to add a hint of color and palette complexity.
Cho recommends creativity with any cocktail, whether it’s at home or out at a bar. While some approach mixed drinks with a thread of stereotype trepidation, she said not to worry about what others think.
“These days, people drink what they really want.”
Classic cocktails with a twist
Gin and Tonic Jellies
1 teaspoon gelatin
5 ounces tonic water
1 1/2 ounces gin
2 teaspoons lime juice
Small wedges lime, key lime, or other small citrus fruit
Pour about half the tonic into a bowl. Scatter the gelatin over the surface, do not stir, set aside until the gelatin blooms (softens). Meanwhile, warm the rest of the tonic over very low heat until just simmering. Whisk hot tonic, then gin into the gelatin. Pour jelly into 4 (2-ounce) shot glasses and garnish with lime wedges or citrus of choice. Place in the refrigerator for 2 hours (or overnight) until set.
2 ounces cherry syrup (recommended: Giammona)
2 ounces gin
5 to 6 ounces club soda
1 ounce red wine
Fresh or frozen raspberries
Fill a tall glass with ice cubes. Pour in the cherry syrup and the gin; stir to mix together. Add a generous splash of soda, then red wine on top. Add maraschino cherries and raspberries.
2 to 2 1/2 ounces rye whiskey
2 1/2 ounces peach nectar
About 5 wedges frozen peaches, halved
3 to 4 fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped
1 lemon wedge
Fill a large wine goblet with crushed ice. Muddle the rye, peach nectar, dash of bitters, peaches, mint, and a squeeze of lemon juice in a cocktail shaker. Pour over ice and serve cold. Note: At first, the rye can pack a real punch; as the ice and fruit melt, they mellow it into a wonderful summer drink. /Courtesy of Food Network