Cocktails are an alcoholic mixed drink served in bars and at parties. They’re typically composed of fruit juices, flavored syrup, and other ingredients that may go well with the base spirit. It’s a delicious drink that packs a punch!
No one was sure how the name cocktail started. But around the 1800s, the first recorded definition of a cocktail appeared. It was described as a stimulating drink composed of spirits, sugar, water, and bitters, and it was sometimes crudely called bitter sling.
But one thing is for sure, and cocktails wouldn’t be where they are today without the help of their cocktail ingredients. Ingredients such as bitters, cordial syrups, and garnishes have shaped the very foundation of a cocktail.
What makes each cocktail ingredient important?
Bitters. These are aromatic alcohol-based ingredients that are infused with a bitter botanical and a flavoring agent. You can’t consume them alone because of the pure and robust flavor, which is why they’re sold in small bottles.
But drinkable bitters exist; the alcohol content and flavoring are usually dulled to be more tolerable to the consumer. Back then, bitters were used as a medical tonic to alleviate pain, headaches, and arthritis. They were commonly mixed with sugar and water to make them more bearable.
Nowadays, bitters balance out the sweetness or the sourness of a drink since most cocktails use fruits or sweet syrup to add flavor to the glass. There are nine types of bitters: aromatic, orange, celery, citrus, spiced, floral, fruit, chocolate, and spicy.
Cordial Syrup. These are syrups that are usually fruit-flavored. They’re typically made from fruits, sugar, and water. Much like bitters, they cannot be consumed on their own, but they need to be added to water or other beverages to dilute their strong taste.
In the early 1800s, cordial was used as medicine to prevent diseases such as scurvy and revitalize the body. The term cordial was used to refer to sweet fruit-flavored alcoholic drinks, and with its intoxicating effects, the ingredient soon got involved with recreational beverages.
Today, cordial drinks have become the counterpart for bitters as they add flavoring and sweetness to cocktails. They come in various flavors such as rose, grapefruit, almond, elderflower, lime, and many more plant-based flavors.
During the 19th century, garnishes like maraschino cherries became a popular delicacy in Europe. It is unknown why we started garnishing our cocktails, but we can guarantee it provides a visual aspect to the drinking experience.
Cocktail garnishes can be divided into edible and inedible garnishes, with one providing an extra layer of flavor and the other is just to make the drink look appealing. Edible garnishes can also be subdivided into fruits, vegetables, flowers, spices, herbs, salt, sugar, and even shrimp. They’re used for their visual and flavor aspects to enhance the drink.