Mixology 101: Steps for Crafting Dessert Drinks That Will Impress Your Guests
Have you ever looked at the last page of a cocktail menu at a restaurant? If not, this is typically where you find the aperitifs (appetizer drinks) and digestifs (dessert drinks) that truly begin and complete a meal.
But unfortunately, most people skip these steps and end up going home a bit unfulfilled.
Digestifs are on most cocktail menus for a very specific reason. And this is mostly related to the digestion process. In fact, you’ll find that in most fine dining establishments these dessert drinks are often recommended by the wait staff. And this is largely for your benefit.
Some of the best digestifs are sweet but can be a little more elaborate and fun if you really know what you’re doing and you have the right ingredients.
If you want to wow your guests at home or at your bar, the following advice will detail what you need to craft a great dessert drink.
Some of the most common digestifs are served in a traditional manner. And most people who request these drinks after a meal stick to the basics which are often served neat, without ice.
Your common digestifs include several types of Brandy or Cognac, Galliano, Sambuca, or any aged liquor such as Scotch or Bourbon or Anejo tequila. But you can add a nice twist to these drinks by adding a few different ingredients either as a garnish or a topping.
Truth be told, you can take any ordinary digestif and make it much more fun and delicious by adding whipped toppings or by serving it in a sweet rimmed glass. For example, a spiced rum served neat can be made into an excellent digestif by adding a tablespoon of simple syrup and a generous topping of whipped cream.
But you must also know that in order to create that twist of flavor you crave, you have to use quality cream chargers otherwise you’ll end up with a chemical taste in your beverage. So choose your cream chargers wisely.
Depending on where you live, you’ll probably have a few local favorites that are go-to dessert drinks for the folks in your community.
For example, in New Orleans, there is such a variety of craft and classic cocktails that all hail from Crescent City itself. And some of these might sound familiar:
- Ramos Gin Fizz
- Veaux Carre
- Praline Crusta
- 8 Mile Limit
- Brandy Milk Punch
- Absinthe Frappe
- Pimm’s Cup
You should note that there are several classic cocktails from New Orleans, as this town touts to be the official birthplace of the American cocktail.
When you’re behind the bar, choose local ingredients that will satisfy your local patrons as well as delight your out-of-town guests. This will not only make for an authentic experience, but it will also nicely fill your tip jar.
If you’ve worked in a bar setting for any length of time, you’ve probably served a margarita with a lime placed neatly on the glass only to have your guest toss it onto a nearby napkin. And while this is common, some drinks you just can’t serve without a proper garnish.
In most finer establishments, drink presentation is an integral part of the serving process. And not only does this make your beverage look the part, but for some dessert drinks, the garnish is part of the drink itself.
For example, as previously mentioned, Sambuca is a popular digestif, and traditionally, Sambuca is served with 3 coffee beans which simply float in the glass. Well, these are in the glass for a reason.
The 3 beans represent health, happiness, and prosperity. And when after a meal you see a group order this as a digestif, if you leave out the beans, your guests may leave you without a tip.
Mixology is truly an artform that goes unnoticed unless you’ve worked in the food & beverage industry. And getting your recipes just right is part of being a true mixologist.
Whether you serve dessert cocktails or if you want to spice up a simple cocktail, knowing and using quality ingredients is going to be your best strategy.