Sao Paulo, Brazil - August 1, 2002 - Stirred, shaken or over the rocks? Renaissance Sao Paulo Hotel bartender Angel Ojea has uttered these words almost daily for the last 47 years of his illustrious career. Winner of numerous international awards and author of Cocktail and its Art, Angel gives seasoned insight into setting up a home bar and finding the right mix of aromas, colors and flavors to create the perfect cocktail.
The Essential Tools
The first step is to designate a specific place (preferably near an electrical outlet) to prepare drinks and have a good time. A well stocked bar makes entertaining easy when supplied with the following tools: stainless steel cocktail shakers, strainer, drink measurer, napkins, ice bucket with scoop, juicer, garnish container, mixing spoon, pairing knife, mini-cutting board, corkscrew, blender, trash can and cleaning cloths. Tip: It’s general practice to place a fabric napkin on the bar counter with some of the most used utensils on it.
Stocking the Bar
The seemingly endless array of liquors can be intimidating to any party host. Angel suggests beginning with the basic assortment of liquor, liqueurs and aperitifs, which can produce a wide range of cocktails. Liquors include bourbon, brandy, blended whiskey, gin, light rum, scotch, tequila and vodka. Liqueurs include amaretto, Grand Marnier, triple sec, Crème de Cocoa and Kahlua. Aperitifs include Campari, sweet vermouth and cassis. Tip: Assume guests are using two ounces of liquor per mixed drink, a quart will yield 16 to 21 drinks, a liter 17 to 22 drinks. Factor two drinks per guest for the first hour and one drink each hour there after.
Mixing it Up
Mixers are the special ingredients that make a drink unique. Angel warns against the urge to use store-bought juice mixes. While this may save time, freshly squeezed juice produces a far superior and classier drink. Some of the most common mixers are orange, grapefruit, and cranberry juices; club soda; tonic water; cola and ginger ale. Tip: Coffee is an excellent after-dinner mixer for its digestive qualities. It can be served cold or hot with an array of liqueurs such as B&B, Bailey’s, Kahlua or Café Di Saronno.
Glasses make a significant difference in the presentation and enjoyment of a cocktail giving rise to a profusion of shapes and sizes. Understanding that not everyone can have the full range of glassware, Angel advises that each bar should carry the following basics: short glasses, tall glasses (highball), wineglasses and cocktail glasses. Tip: Most cocktails should be served in very cold glasses, which is done by placing ice in the glass while preparing the drink in the cocktail shaker.
That Special Touch
Garnishes give drinks a creative sparkle. They can range from a whimsical paper parasol to a refreshing slice of lime to a blue cheese stuffed olive. Other decorative accents include course salt, granulated sugar, orange peels, natural cherries, star fruit slices, mint sprigs, nutmeg, grated coconut, Cinnamon sticks and coffee beans. Tip: Garnish from the inside out with colorful ice cubes. To achieve this effect, place a few drops of food coloring in a filled ice cube tray, freeze and add ice to glass.
45 ml Bacardi Rum Limon
3 mint sprigs
2 tsp. sugar
Mash lime juice, two broken up mint sprigs and sugar in bottom of short glass. Add ice and rum. Top off glass with a splash of club soda. Garnish with two lime slices and a mint sprig. Yields one glass.
... And Mocktails
Not all guests may want an alcoholic drink. As a result, party hosts can serve mocktails, in addition to keeping extra cola, juice and water on hand. An easy recipe for a “virgin” Strawberry Colada is as follows: Add equal parts of fresh or frozen strawberries, cream of coconut and pineapple juice to blender. Add ice and blend until smooth. Serve in tall glass, garnished with a strawberry.