All About Flavor
Cocktail Flavor Profiles: Enhancing Your Elixirs
When it comes down to it, building a balanced cocktail is just like cooking. You’re mixing flavor ingredients together hoping for a delicious outcome. But how does it work? What makes one cocktail taste better than another? Like cooking, it’s all about the flavor profile and how to mix and match complementary ingredients together.
The five basic cocktail flavor profiles are sweet, sour, bitter, spicy, and salty.
Together, these flavor profiles work to enhance or balance each other out. If you want more of a particular flavor, you can enhance it with a complementary one; conversely, if you have one overpowering flavor, you can add a contradictory one to balance the overall drink.
So how do you know which flavors work best together?
Below are a few ideas to help enhance the flavors in your drink to create the most savory cocktails.
Adding a bit of sweet will enhance saltiness. It also counteracts sour, bitter and spice.
• For sweet cocktails try: liqueurs, sugar, syrups, honey, molasses, jams, soda, cream
Adding sour enhances saltiness (like the lime for tequila). Sour will also balance spice and sweet flavors.
• For sour in your cocktails: lemon juice, lime juice, orange juice, vinegar, cider, tomato juice, pickled vegetables
Adding a touch of bitter balances sweet and salty.
• For a bit more bitter add: coffee beans, cocoa beans or powder, grapefruit juice, hops, orange bitters, apple bitters, name-brand bitters
Too much sour or sweet calls for spicy to balance it out.
• For spicy cocktails try: hot sauces, wasabi paste, horseradish juice, jalapeños, habaneros, chili peppers (great for garnishing too!)
Savory and salty flavors added to cocktails enhance sweetness, and counterbalance bitterness.
• For more salty flavor add: kosher salt, sea salt, anchovy paste, hard cheeses, soy tomato juice, bacon (think garnish)