Any cocktail creator worth their salt will openly concede the crux, or foundation of any new or innovative cocktail is rooted in a classic, or parent cocktail created 100 or so some odd years ago. The classics are called so for a reason, for having remained relevant for so long they are forever idolized, sometimes bastardized, but always the foundation of any cocktail program.
Creating original cocktails, however, requires keen attention to the foundation beset by its parent, and is often finished off by the spawn of its creator’s imagination and, with any luck, given some cleaver or ironic name to convince the imbiber of its merits. Using this plug-and-play strategy can more than often result quite pleasant and thoughtful outcomes for even the most novice of our industrious cocktail fabricating brethren.
I will humbly share what successes I have found in my experience Mr. Potato-heading. Find your favorite classic; take a sour for instance (those cocktails containing citrus juice), and thoughtfully substitute one sweetener for another. For instance; a cleaver way to alter the classic whiskey sour (egg white, lemon juice, simple syrup, bourbon-whipped and strained with angostura bitters garnish) and subsequently create something original is to change both the sweetener and garnish. For this example you may indulge my fancy for the exotic and exciting, therefore by simply substituting honey, no, let’s make that buckwheat honey! for our simple syrup and freshly shaved nutmeg (to compliment the sweet and earthy profile of our exotic honey) acting in the stead of bitters. Taking a small step further, let us be enterprising enough to dry shake our new original cocktail and put it in a collins glass, instead of a sour, and top with soda. Substitute brown sugar for white in your old fashioned, maybe add your favorite bitters (black mission fig!), and presto-chango, you are the architect of your very own original cocktail!
Understanding and appreciating the classics while applying both modern technique and flavors to create sprightly cocktails is a big part of the joy I have every day behind the bar!
Dustin Newsome, Head Barman, Seven Grand DTLA