The Roots of Mixology
Mixology, as a term and practice, originated in the United States in the mid-19th century, yet the history of mixed drinks stretches further back. The concept of blending different ingredients to create a pleasurable beverage dates back to ancient civilizations. The Egyptians, for instance, mixed wine with herbs for medicinal purposes.
The term “cocktail,” referring to a specific type of mixed drink, is first defined in an 1806 issue of The Balance and Columbian Repository, a Hudson, New York newspaper. It describes a cocktail as a stimulating beverage made of spirits, sugar, water, and bitters.
However, mixology, as we understand it today, really started to take shape in the 1860s, with the publication of Jerry Thomas’s “How to Mix Drinks or The Bon-Vivant’s Companion.” This book, filled with methods, recipes, and anecdotes, is considered the first significant cocktail manual.
Exploring the Types of Drinks
In mixology, a plethora of different types of drinks are created, each with its own unique character. Here are a few:
Cocktails: A cocktail, in its classic definition, consists of four components: spirits, sugar, water (usually in the form of ice), and bitters. Examples include the Old Fashioned and the Manhattan.
Highballs: These are simple, refreshing drinks consisting of a spirit and a larger proportion of a non-alcoholic mixer, like soda or tonic water, served in a tall glass with ice. Think of the classic Gin and Tonic.
Lowballs: These are stronger drinks, typically consisting of a spirit, maybe a splash of a mixer, and served in a short tumbler glass. An example is a Whiskey Sour.
Sours: Sours are a family of cocktails that contain a spirit, a sweetener (usually simple syrup), and a sour ingredient (usually citrus juice). The aforementioned Whiskey Sour falls into this category.
Fizzes: These are akin to sours, but with the addition of a carbonated mixer, giving the drink a fizzy character. The famous Tom Collins is a type of fizz.
Recipes to Shake and Stir
Now let’s put our mixology knowledge to practice with three exciting cocktail recipes:
- 2 oz Bourbon
- 1 Sugar Cube
- 2 dashes Angostura Bitters
- Orange twist for garnish
- Muddle the sugar cube and bitters with one bar-spoon of water at the bottom of a chilled rocks glass. Add bourbon, ice cubes, and stir the drink gently. Garnish with an orange twist.
Gin and Tonic
- 2 oz Gin
- 5 oz Tonic Water
- Lime wheel for garnish
- Fill a highball glass with ice cubes. Add gin, top with tonic water, and stir gently. Garnish with a lime wheel.
- 2 oz Whiskey
- 0.75 oz Lemon Juice
- 0.5 oz Simple Syrup
- Cherry and orange wheel for garnish
- Shake the whiskey, lemon juice, and simple syrup with ice and strain into a chilled rocks glass filled with ice.
- Garnish with a cherry and an orange wheel.
The art of mixology is a captivating journey that takes us through the alleys of history, the nuances of taste, and the creativity of crafting beverages. With these recipes, you can create a piece of this history right at your own home bar. So, pour, stir, shake, and above all, enjoy the experience!