All About Flavor
Coming up with your own cocktail recipes may seem like an intimidating proposition. But we’re about to reveal one of the true secrets behind the magic of bartending—the cocktail equation. This cocktail formula gives you the guidance you need to create drinks in the sour family of cocktails from scratch. Sour cocktails typically contain citrus and are shaken—your margaritas, daquiris, whiskey sours and so on.
Let’s Talk Numbers
So what IS the cocktail equation? Drum roll please….
2 to 1 to 1
These numbers represent the cocktail ratio—or “parts” in bartending terms—of your ingredients. Two parts base spirit to one part sweet to one part sour. Let’s take it one step at a time.
Start with your base spirit. It can be any of your main categories of liquor—whiskey, gin, vodka, etc. This is the foundation of the drink.
Next, you’ll integrate a sweet component. This usually comes from a syrup, like simple syrup, honey syrup or agave syrup. But it can also come from a cordial or liqueur like triple sec or elderflower.
Finally, add a sour component to balance it all out. This usually comes from fresh citrus, like lemon or lime. The natural acidity does a great job balancing out the other ingredients. Note: This is not a sour mix like you’d buy in the store, as those are typically a combination of sour and sweet. It may seem like a good shortcut, but you get less control. It’s best to keep the sweet and sour ingredients separate at first, then bring them together to suit your needs!
The Cocktail Equation Come to Life
An easy way to wrap your head around the equation is to look at an example of the formula in action. Like with the classic daiquiri. The recipe for a daiquiri is rum, simple syrup and lime juice. Using the formula, we can arrive at the following cocktail ratio:
2 parts rum
1 part simple syrup
1 part lime juice
It’s that simple.
Learn The Rules. Then Break Them.
Keep this in mind: the formula is flexible. These ratios are a great starting point for creating your recipes. But once you get the hang of it, you can play with the drink to match your tastes. For example, if you want your daiquiri to be a little less sweet, you can add less simple syrup.
You can even split your components between two ingredients. The classic margarita ratio, for example, uses a half part simple syrup and half part triple sec to get to that one part sweet component.
Now, you may notice that a lot of the recipes on the Cocktail Project don’t follow 2-1-1 to the number. Our bartenders often use the cocktail equation as a base, a simple starting place, and tweak the recipes to taste. So, experiment away! The next great cocktail is just waiting to be discovered.