What Makes a Cocktail a Great Cocktail? We Asked Industry Leading Cocktail Mixologists
It’s a tough job, but someone’s gotta do it, right? Spend time with your passionate cocktail-loving colleagues at industry-leading cocktail conventions to…… taste cocktails (and get paid for it). Believe it or not, this is what we have to do every once in a while at Liberation Cocktails to get to hang out with the crème de la crème in the biz (hoping to learn a thing or two). Thankfully, cocktail secrets are easily shared over a drink, but that’s a story for next time.
One such memorable trade fair was this year’s BCB - short for Bar Convent Berlin. It doesn’t take a genius to see the attraction - gently shake a bunch of leading mixologists with some of the top spirits brands in the world, then add a twist of Berlin’s party vibe - and you get one hell of a …. you got it!
THE QUESTION - What makes a Cocktail a Great Cocktail?
Aside from mixing with the good & great and showing off our own RTD winners (including 2 Great Taste Awards), we set out to get an answer to a seemingly simple question: “What Makes a Cocktail a Great Cocktail?”
A simple question deserves a simple answer, right? It does, but life’s complicated, and so, it seems, are cocktails. What made our quest for the holy cockgrail even more challenging is that 1,000 experts have 1,000 answers, and they’re all different! While there was general alignment on the need for quality spirits (and a fair bit of discussion about ingredients’ integrity), the topic soon focused on the personality of the Mixologist as one of the key factors. Sure, anyone can buy the “How to Make Friends by Mixing Mean Cocktails” book (btw great title, just registered it, out on Amazon next year) but that hardly makes you Tom Cruise (or Tom Collins for that matter). So then, the question soon evolved to: "What Makes a Great Mixologist?”
What really makes a great cocktail?
Again, this proved a harder question than expected - while it’s relatively simple to rate say a jet pilot’s performance (cruised a max of miles on a given kerosine budget with a flawless crash record), it seems mixologists take a more philosophical approach to their profession. The discussion started in good spirit (like the pun?) with mentions ranging from creativity, temperature control and speed to garnish selection and pairing expertise, but soon evolved into esoteric territory surrounding the ethics of cocktail-making and transparency about CO2 impact... I can go on and on. It turned out to be a fun discussion but consensus was nowhere to be found (even so, we did make a lot of new friends).
What really made our day though was that the international mixologist community had turned the page on Ready-To-Drink (RTD) cocktails. What appeared to be taboo some years ago seemed to have gained wide acceptance among even the most purist among the cocktail elite: A Great Cocktail Can Be Pre-Made! (And there are plenty of bars to prove it).
What makes a great Ready-To-Drink Cocktail?
So what then makes a great Ready-To-Drink cocktail? Haha, we decided to ask that question after sobering up (which only happened when we got back to London, so too late). Regardless, we’re convinced it’s all of the above plus a good dose of flair. It’s good to know that the Great Taste and IWSC juries feel Liberation made the cut, awarding our Strawberry Daiquiri, Mojito and Pisco Sour cocktails some top accolades.
Looking back at the Berlin event, the answer to "What Makes a Great Cocktail” now seems so much easier to answer in hindsight. We believe A Good Cocktail becomes Great simply when enjoying it with the people you want to be with, wherever & whenever the moment calls. And that really sums up why we founded Liberation Cocktails.
Here's what Industry Leading Mixologists think of Liberation Cocktails -