What makes Cocktail Chameleon different as it is written from the perspective of an entertaining expert to hosts and hostesses looking to elevate their occasions with festive signature cocktails. The goal was to make cocktails approachable and not from bartender/mixologist POV, which can be intimidating to most people. It is an inviting book into the world of cocktails with pretty pictures, beautiful glassware, and fun information without being overly wordy. I created this ultimate “cocktail table book” to help the uninitiated connect to their own inner mixologist, but it’s more than just pretty pictures. Once they’ve learned about the history and mixed their way through the recipes, they’ll be all set to dream up their signature drinks. And when the first one is perfected, whether it’s shaken or stirred, they’ll be ready to share it with the world!
I have created an eBook called The Cocktail Chameleon Companion: How to Set Up a Home Bar in 5 Easy Steps eBook where readers can find detailed information on five glassware essentials, five fundamental spirits and liqueurs, five best bar tools, top five ingredients and garnishes needed to set up a home bar. The eBook also includes specific cocktail techniques, garnishing instructions, an extensive glossary defining glassware types and style and a complete index on all the spirits used in the making of Cocktail Chameleon. There is even a resource list of esoteric ingredients and hard-to-find suppliers with direct links on where to buy each item. You can download your free eBook by subscribing to Mark Mail here.
3 bar tools that every home mixologist must have:
1. A good quality cocktail shaker with a strainer to shake cocktails and use the shaker base as a mixing vessel for drinks that require stirring
2. A cocktail spoon for cocktails that require stirring as well as fetching garnishes such as olives, cocktail onions and cherries out of their narrow mouthed glass jars.
3. Measuring tools, as you can’t wing a good cocktail. You have to measure to ensure a proper balance: an accurate jigger in ½ oz. increments, measuring spoons, glass measuring cup
3 things that will make your cocktails better:
1. Only use fresh ingredients: There is no substitute for all fresh ingredients in cocktail making that deliver the best quality ingredients to make your cocktails the best they can be. Readymade mixers and bottled juices are acceptable only when fresh ingredients are out of season.
2. Infuse your own spirits: homemade infused spirits impart the truest flavors with levels of complexity that cannot be matched in artificially flavored spirits.
3. Don’t forget to garnish: Garnishes are key to defining a cocktail’s personality and are another place to have fun. From a single twist of lemon to a skewer loaded with meats, cheese and/or vegetables, these adornments look festive but aren’t just for show. They signal what the drink is all about and add complementary flavors. Cocktail etiquette dictates that an even number of garnishes is unlucky, so remember to stick to odd numbers when dressing up your glass.
It depends on what is being shaken or stirred…the purpose of ‘shaking’ a cocktail is to break-up the ice and agitate the liquids, resulting in a well-combined drink with a thin layer of ice chips on top. The act of ‘stirring’ gently chills and blends the spirits’ flavors without diluting the drink. Both techniques appear in my book according to the ingredients involved and the result that’s desired. Now, keep in mind that there are rules pertaining to ingredients that should never be shaken, such as tomato or pineapple juices, as doing so would cause them to foam and produce an undesirable appearance and texture. I believe the particular cocktail dictates the appropriate treatment.
We call the cocktail glass the “cocktail attire” for your cocktails and is as important to the enjoyment of the libation as the cocktail itself! And, as in fashion there are rules to adhere to and rules to be broken. The rule that must be adhered to is form vs. function meaning, you wouldn’t serve something over ice in a champagne flute or a cocktail “straight up” in a rocks glass. The single most important decision is the style of the occasion to determine the style of the glassware; stemware vs stemless, ornate vs. simple, cut crystal vs. glass. Clear glass is always preferable over colored glass. You wouldn’t want to serve a beautiful red Bordeaux in anything but a clear glass as the color a big part of the enjoyment of the wine. The same is true of cocktails, whether it is a crystal-clear martini or a ruby-hued colored Bloody Mary, the color is an essential aspect of the experience.
3 most important aspects of cocktail making…
1. A good recipe: A truly successful cocktail is all about proportions and requires a deft hand with sweet, tart, bitter and spirits. The right balance is about flavors that complement—and never overwhelm—one another.
2. Proper glassware: Part tradition, part common sense and part personal style, your choice of glass should never be incidental. It’s a key element in the presentation of a carefully considered cocktail.
3. The name says it all: A good name will not carry a poor drink to success; but a good name attached to a good drink will catapult your drink to the greatest heights of popularity.
Watch Mark Addison’s new web series “Shaking Things Up!” where he discuss the fundamentals of cocktails and entertaining while shaking up (or stirring) a cocktail or three. Go to our Calendar of Events for dates and times for upcoming shows and visit Shaking Things Up category in our Blog for past show videos.
Signature cocktails are part creative expression and part calling card, alluding to your style as much as your handshake or favorite perfume. It’s wonderful to be able to host a themed evening and mix up a batch of something tailored just to the occasion. The result is a signature cocktail that is as unique as you are. It also simplifies your stock of liquor and gets you out from behind the bar to enjoy your own party.
Girls - the glass = the perfect silhouette, garnishes = perfect accessories where sometimes more is more or remove one item, cocktail recipe = the notes of a fragrance. Everything equals your personal style
Guys - the glass, like the shape of a sports car = cool and sleek, garnish is the fine finishes = simple yet effective, drink = power under the hood - strong but smooth. The result are cocktails as unique as you are.
Two great questions! The short answer is a signature cocktail is ideal for all parties. Larger groups require more time from the host and therefore a signature cocktail that serves multiple guest or one that can be scaled up into a pitcher with minimal effort on the hosts part to serve are ideal for larger groups; obviously punches, sangrias and even champagne cocktails (which I will show you) that can be served in a variety of glassware are great options (mix and match). These surely work for intimate gatherings as well, but more detailed cocktails with elaborate garnishes in specific glassware is best for smaller groups. And then there is the MYO bar concept, a classics cocktail with a few options that guests can craft their own signature cocktails from what the host provides; Bloody Mary, Margarita, Champagne Cocktail and Coolers are great choices as MYO Bars.
Visit the our Blog for more tips on home bartending and party planning.