If you’ve never seen, tasted or even heard of a craft cocktail, you’re in for a treat like no other. This innovative and delicious conversation starter catches glances from every corner of the restaurant and takes the tastebuds on a wild adventure. Here’s your guide to craft cocktails, including their origins, trending recipes and tips to make them. Let’s dive in!
What Is a Craft Cocktail?
A craft cocktail is a higher-end variation of a classic cocktail. It requires a greater level of skill and technique to curate, hence the name “craft.” Craft cocktails contain fresh, high-quality spirits, mixers and garnishes. These premium ingredients are often artisanal or locally sourced. A craft cocktail might include:
- Freshly squeezed juices.
- Fresh herbs.
- Top-shelf liquors.
- Homemade syrups infused with flowers or herbs.
- Ice carved into intricate shapes.
As you can imagine, these beverages require a few extra minutes of prep time compared to standard mixed drinks. They also cost more to make, but the flavorful and vibrant result is worth every penny.
Most bartenders have a foundational understanding of classic and artisan cocktails. However, seasoned craft mixologists require a more profound knowledge of ingredients. They must recognize how different flavor profiles interact to produce the desired taste and aroma. That also means stocking a wider range of artisan ingredients.
Another aspect of crafted cocktails is presenting the drink in a visually charming manner. Craft cocktails should be both delicious and aesthetically pleasing. Craft mixologists have a complex understanding of glassware, including how different types react with ingredients and engage the senses. Craft cocktails are nothing short of a magical sensory experience, raising the bar — no pun intended — for cocktail artistry.
The History of Craft Cocktails
Craft cocktails emerged during the Prohibition era in the 1920s. Prohibition banned the manufacture, sale and transportation of alcoholic beverages. It stifled the cocktail trend, causing bartenders to be discreet.
Once Prohibition ended, bartenders could freely experiment with cocktails. This resulted in many of the classics we know and love today. In the 1980s, restauranteurs and bartenders sought to recreate the Prohibition-era speakeasy atmosphere, serving creative cocktails in dimly lit lounges.
The 1988 reopening of the Rainbow Room at Rockefeller Center sparked the modern craft cocktail movement. Dale Degroff, the new bartender, developed a list of classic cocktails from the Prohibition era. He also added spinoff recipes based on traditional techniques and ingredients.
Other bartenders followed suit, reinventing traditional cocktails by blending different flavors and swapping ingredients. Here are some well-known concoctions that arose from the craft cocktail movement:
- Negroni sbagliato
- Russian spring punch
- Amaretto sour
Craft Cocktail Trends of 2023
If you’re looking for craft cocktail ideas, consider these 2023 drink trends for some inspiration:
- Sours: It’s no surprise that the classic sours — like margaritas, whiskey sours, pisco sours and sidecars — are taking center stage this year. Perfect for cold and warm seasons, they’re incredibly versatile, refreshing and easy to make.
- Savory cocktails: Many are embracing briny and salty cocktails in 2023. Tequila, dirty martinis and other savory sippers are high on the list of favorites this year.
- Martinis: Whether classic, espresso, chocolate or apple martinis, these beloved drinks never go out of style. You can easily customize a martini to your liking, whether by adding a slice of fresh lemon or even garnishing your beverage with onions.
- Low- and no-alcohol cocktails: With more people prioritizing a healthier lifestyle, many are choosing to restrict or refrain from alcohol intake. Thirty-four percent of Americans aim to drink less alcohol in 2023, with internet searches for mocktails up by 59%.
Tips and Tricks for Creating Craft Cocktails
Finally, here are some craft cocktail tips to bear in mind as you embark on your beverage-making journey.
1. Invest in the Right Equipment
No master mixologist can operate without the right tools! Depending on the recipes you plan to try, you might need a blender, measuring cups, spoons, a muddler or a lemon juicer. Go for durable and high-quality supplies instead of cheap and flimsy. Any bartender will tell you it makes all the difference in the result.
2. Use Fresh Ingredients Only
The key to the perfect craft cocktail is authenticity. That means using the freshest, purest ingredients you can get your hands on. Choose ingredients at their peak freshness to achieve the crispest flavors. That means selecting the ripest, juiciest and most colorful fruits you can find. Scouring your local farmers’ markets is a great starting point.
3. Follow Recipes to the Letter
At some point, you might have cooked a dish and deviated from the recipe slightly. Maybe you increased a measurement or substituted an ingredient or two. However, craft cocktails are more of an exact science.
When trying a new recipe, be sure to follow each step precisely. These drinks have been carefully created to yield specific flavor and aroma combinations. Winging any of the steps could lead to a less-than-desirable result.
4. Think About Presentation
When it comes to craft cocktails, appearance is as essential as taste. It really is all in the details. Carefully consider the glass shape, size and color. Throw in small yet elaborate accents like a colorful glass straw.
If you’re pairing your cocktail with a snack or meal, sample the food and beverage together to ensure the flavors balance each other out. Just like combining wines and entrees, mixing craft cocktails and cuisines is an art. Craft mixologists in restaurants can usually recommend ideal meal and cocktail combos, considering they are well-versed in flavor pairings.
5. Try Making a Signature Cocktail
After trying out a few recipes, consider inventing your own craft cocktail. This is your chance to flex your creative muscles. Mix and match different ingredients and quantities to see what meshes, like sweet and sour flavors.
Once you’ve found a groundbreaking fusion of juices, spirits and garnishes, write down the recipe exactly. Be sure not to alter it when you make the drink again. That way, you can retain that same level of flavor and quality.
Remember that creating the prime concoction will take some trial and error, so tweak and adjust as many times as you need. It’s all part of the experience. And, of course, don’t forget one of the most important parts — coming up with a name!
Dine With Tallulah Crafted Food and Wine Bar
If you’re looking to visit the best craft cocktail bar in the Baton Rouge area, stop by Tallulah Crafted Food and Wine Bar for a one-of-a-kind culinary experience. In addition to our full breakfast, lunch and dinner menu and beautiful outdoor terrace, we offer a palatable selection of signature cocktails, fine wines and local brews. You’ll savor every last sip.
Come to Tallulah to delight in an expertly crafted cocktail. Contact us today to reserve your table!