A signature cocktail is a must at every fête, whether it's a house party, baby shower or even a wedding. It's a fun way to get the party started, plus you don't have to worry about the expense of keeping a bar stocked with many varieties of hard liquor and mixers, or the challenge of playing bartender all night long. You might not know it, but picking the perfect signature cocktail for your festivities is, in a sense, a science. You'll need to choose a complementing blend of popular flavors, a liquor that most people enjoy and a way to adjust the drink to fit individual needs and tastes. Womensforum talked with Danielle Lewis, bar manager at Chicago's GT Fish & Oyster and one of RedEye's Best Bartenders of 2015, about crafting the perfect signature cocktail for your group of friends.
Use a Ratio for a Balanced Cocktail
Lewis says she uses a 2:1:1 ratio for almost all of her cocktails, meaning 2 parts base spirit, 1 part tart/citrus and 1 part sweetener. Anyone can use this ratio to create a balanced cocktail with the perfect blend of booziness and sweetness every time.
Respect the Spirit
"Your sweet and tart elements should be complementary to the base spirit," Lewis says. "A great cocktail never disguises the flavor of a base spirit. Respect the spirit and let it shine through."
When in Doubt, Always Go for Punch
When we say "punch," we don't mean the random bowl filled with mysterious red liquid. Lewis recommends prepping a batched cocktail that makes it easy for guests to serve themselves, which will ensure that you won't spend the whole party playing bartender.
Lewis' personal recommendation? "I like gin combined with lots of fresh fruit, simple syrup, lemon juice, frambroise and sparkling wine served in a punch bowl over ice. For a little added wow factor, freeze your berries in your ice cubes," she says.
Stay True to the Classics
For a signature cocktail, you'll want to play it safe in some aspects to make the drink a sure crowd-pleaser. Take a classic with bright, citrus overtones like a daiquiri or a margarita, and put a unique spin on it.
"I love tequila, but I know if I have 10 people over, the majority will not share my enthusiasm," Lewis confesses. She suggests limiting the amount of exotic ingredients like homemade syrups or obscure liqueurs and keeping the rest of the ingredients familiar, "especially for that one relative or friend who only drinks vodka."