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5 Things to Remember While Serving a Cocktail

Cocktails are a great way of enjoying your favourite spirits and liquers. Here are some tips to help you serve them the right way.

1) Make sure everything is chilled.

This is the thumb rule for a cocktail (exception being warm cocktails). Lots of ice in the glass and as well as in your shaker. Additional Tip: Putting a single ice cube in a glass and chilling it in the freezer 10 minutes before serving, is a great way to get a frosted look and also enhance the taste of the cocktail.

2) Know your garnish.

This is what will diffrentiate between a good cocktail experience and a great cocktail experience. Cocktails should conjure up images and fantasies and for that they also have to look the part. Make sure you garnish goes well with the drink and is feast for the eyes as well. Additional Tip: Most drinks use one of the ingredients as a garnish. For example drinks containing orange juice are served with a slice of orange.

3) Know your glasses.

This is another important rule. The right glass can enhance the flavour of your cocktail, while the wrong one, will not allow the fullest of experiences. Generally drinks with aerated mixes or juices are served either in a high ball or a Tom Collins. Shots and Shooters are served in shot glasses. Champagne is served in a flute. White and red wine both have specific glasses for each other and a brandy or cognac is best served in a balloon glass.

4) Fresh juices are best.

It is best to prepare and use fresh juice before the evening. They provide more natural and fruitier experience. They are also thinner than their canned or packaged counterparts, making them better and lighter mixers.

5) Build your drink correctly.

It is important to follow the order of a cocktail to get the best flavour out of it. Always put in the hard spirit first, followed by the liquer or enhancer, topped with the mixer and finally add the bitters if needed. Now garnish the drink. This is the basic recipe of any cocktail and should be used whenever applicable. For example while making a Woo Woo. Add the vodka (spirit) first, followed by peach schnapps (enhancer) and topped with cranberry juice (mixer).

And lastly, don’t forget to enjoy serving. Serving is a great pleasure only a privileged few can enjoy. So serve with your heart and enjoy yourself.

Balvenie Is Scotch Whisky Name You Should Remember

Regional categorisation is a vexed issue in whisky: it may be a handy way of grouping distilleries together geographically, but it can be a tricky business identifying a stylistic continuity between all the whiskies in Perthshire or Speyside.

But if you can’t claim that there is a ‘Speyside style’, or isolate certain qualities which make Speyside the best whisky-making region on the mainland, how do you explain such a concentration of distilleries in the area – a part of the Highlands which was, in the early days of whisky, a pretty remote part of the world?

David Stewart, William Grant’s grandly-titled Malt Master, is happy to admit ignorance on this point. ‘All of the quality distilleries are here in this central part of Speyside,’ he says. That’s the mystique of Scotch, We’ve all got highly-sophisticated equipment, but we can’t tell what makes the difference’. He’s pretty sure what makes Balvenie such a dramatically different dram to Glenfiddich, even though they share the same site and use the same malt and water.

The character comes from the still. Glenfiddich is coal fired, Balvenie is gas fired. The shape of the stills is different: Balvenie has bigger stills with shorter necks and that’s where the flavours change. Maybe the ten per cent of floor-malted barley helps, but I think it’s the stills.’

Other influential factors include great wood management and the use of old dunnage warehouses. ‘It’i not just age th;ii makes whiiky great,’ says David. ‘It’s age and wood.’ This underpins his decision to make life interesting (or difficult) for himself by creating a Balvenie range in which each malt shows a subtly different wood influence.

If we were just to age the Founder’s Reserve and do it as a 12-year-old or a 15-year-old, we wouldn’t see much difference between them. We had to take a different route, so we produced Double Wood, [where the malt is aged for 10 years in ex-Bourbon barrels and finished in sherry butts]. Then we started doing Single Barrel, and at a higher strength with no chill filtering; then Port Wood and now vintage casks.’

This freedom to experiment is one of the advantages of Grant’s family-owned status. ‘We can do things quickly. The family is steeped in whisky, but we are encouraged to be innovative, we can go against the trend -with the Balvenie range, or with Black Barrel, where we were determined to make the only single grain whisky that really works.’

If the William Grant portfolio was The Byrds, then Glenfiddich would be Roger McGuinn and Balvenie would be Gene Clark, the underrated genius. David, as Grant’s master blender, is in charge of the entire range, from malts to blends to single grain and whisky liqueur, and his special affection for Balvenie is obvious. ‘I’ve been at Grant’s for 35 years,’ he says. ‘It’s been my only job