Whether you’re a professional or an aspiring mixologist, you might be wondering how to enhance the drinking experience and add more luxury to your cocktails.
A luxury or craft cocktail tells a story. It projects the personality of a bar or its creator. Just take a look at the menu of some of the high-end cocktail bars, and it will become clear that a great cocktail is more than a fancy martini glass and expensive liquor.
So, how do you create a luxury cocktail that tells a story?
There are 5 main steps to creating an ultimate cocktail, and we’ve put together a short guide with recommendations of some of our favourite products.
Step 1: The right mood
Before creating your own ultimate cocktail, think of what story you would like it to tell.
Is it supposed to make you feel relaxed, carefree, and creative? Or perhaps it’s a cocktail that will make you feel strong, invigorated, and energetic? Does it have more feminine or masculine qualities, or maybe it’s the perfect blend of both?
Mixology is an art, and you need to approach this task with the same mindset as you would any other creative project.
Step 2: High quality craft spirits
High quality spirits are a must. Premium spirits are made with the highest quality ingredients, and they are known for their specific aging process. Don’t settle for an average spirit, or it will ruin the taste profile of your luxury cocktail!
In recent years, there has been a rising popularity of craft spirits, produced by small distilleries using locally sourced ingredients. Consumers are interested in where the ingredients come from, and whether the brand’s core values align with their own values (for example, ethically sourced ingredients, supporting local artisans and charities).
This recent trend is redefining the idea of luxury spirits, which are supposed to be produced in small batches by craft distilleries using ethically sourced local ingredients.
We’ve recently had the pleasure to try the award winning spirits by Ditchling Spirits.
Their story began in the small East Sussex village of Ditchling, nestled in the foothills of the beautiful South Downs. Using the quality local ingredients from the stunning natural Sussex surroundings, they always try to use local artisan suppliers, and donate a proportion of their profits to local charities. If you haven’t heard of Ditchling Spirits yet, give them a try - you won’t regret it!
Ditchling Gin is a premium London dry style gin made with quality UK-sourced grain together with a unique array of locally foraged botanicals and the pure spring water of Sussex. It is a fresh, well-balanced spirit as coriander, juniper, orange, lemon, bitter almond and cassia bark botanicals combine for a rich taste and a subtle sweet orange citrus finish.
This gin works perfectly in a Negroni served over a Big Rock, or in a classic G&T on a High Cube.
Fling is a premium, award winning Toffee Vodka made with the finest UK grain carefully blended with delicious toffee, dates and rum flavours, giving it a sweet, smooth and silky taste. Fling is a versatile spirit that can be drunk neat over ice, with champagne, hot chocolate or even in an Espresso Martini.
We have used Fling to create our own Ultimate Cocktail - continue reading to find the recipe!
This time we’ve decided to focus on botanical gin, and flavoured vodka, both produced by the same craft distillery, which is also local to us at Ice Club.
So, what about whiskey, rum, vermouth, cognac, tequila, and mezcal, you might be wondering! There are many craft, luxury spirit brands in the UK, and we will be recommending some of our other favourites in future blogs.
In addition to quality spirits, don’t forget other liquids that are being used to make cocktails. Mixers are just as important. Always try to use a freshly squeezed juice, or a juice that doesn’t come from a concentrate and doesn’t have added sugar (for example, this is a common mistake done with cocktails on cranberry juice ending up too sweet). Try to make your own syrups, they are super easy! Muddle some fresh fruits and vegetables, then shake everything in a cocktail shaker, instead of buying pre-made flavourings. Focus on the quality, fresh ingredients, and your cocktail will be full of flavour from the first sip to the last.
Step 3: Beautiful garnish
We drink with our eyes first. Before you taste the cocktail, your taste buds already know if you will like it or not, based on the way it's presented visually. It's all about the small details, and choosing the right garnish is the crucial component of the drinking experience.
A beautiful garnish can also improve the taste profile of the drink. And we're not talking about a slice of lemon in your G&T. Fresh flowers, herbs, organic fruits and vegetables - these garnishes add to the visual and tasting profiles of a drink. Why waste a beautiful garnish if you can eat it?
We always recommend using fresh, local, organic fruits and vegetables. If you run out of fresh produce and need to make a cocktail now, you can stock up on dried garnishes - we recommend The Zest Co for dried fruit and Nurtured in Norfolk for both fresh and dried flowers and herbs.
If you have a garden, you can grow your own flowers and herbs - just make sure you don’t spray them with chemicals. If you’re not so lucky, see our recommendation below.
Take your flowers out of the vase! Well, not literally - first you need to make sure they are edible and not sprayed with chemicals. Flowers from the supermarket will not work here. So unless you have a garden and it's spring time, you will need to outsource them from an edible flower supplier.
For our Ultimate Cocktail recipe, we’ve used edible flowers by Nurtured in Norfolk. Some are delicate and fragrant, while other have a bit more spice to them. Nurtured in Norfolk offer a full range of fresh, dried, and pressed edible flowers, that can be delivered direct to your door:
Pressed edible flowers are one of the most popular cake decorations to use on wedding cakes this year, but they will also look fantastic as a cocktail garnish. For drinks, we recommend pressed lavender which still holds its flavour unlike a lot of pressed flowers. This flower is your best bet at adding flavour and decoration to your cocktails.
There are so many ways to use dried flowers in drinks, and the main advantage is that they have a long shelf life and you can store them to use whenever you feel creative! You can sprinkle small dried flowers on top of your cocktails, and if you're making a sour with an egg white foam, you can get creative and create your own patterns on top of the foam! Let the dried flowers sit on large ice cubes, like the Big Rocks, or apply them to the rim of your glass (like you do with sugar or salt).
Nurtured in Norfolk also has a range of floral dusting powders, that you can use to garnish your cocktails. Try adding Calendula or Rose Edible Flower Dust to the rim of the glass for a unique spin on traditional cocktails, or sprinkle some powder on top of the ice cube or egg foam - it looks absolutely magical!
Fresh flowers are stronger in colour and flavour than dried and pressed flowers. However, they also have a short shelf life, so you should always order them as close to the day of the event as possible. Because they have a stronger flavour, try and pick a flower that has a taste profile and fragrance that works with your cocktail.
You can simply let a fresh flower blossom float on top of your drink. Or, if you want to add some extra luxury to the cocktail, place the whole flower on top of a large clear ice cube (like we did in our Ultimate Cocktail recipe!).
You can use flowers for all cocktails. It's an incredibly simple and effective way to elevate the visual and tasting profile of your drink. Experiment with floral garnishes, and match them to the overall mood and flavour of your drink.
Step 4: The right glassware
What's in the cocktail is just as important to the overall drinking experience as the glassware itself. Don't settle for an average glass, so you can be sure you’re not missing out on a great experience by using glassware that’s not up to standard.
High quality materials
Quality glassware will be made from crystal glass which has a much greater clarity and brilliance. Crystal is also much more durable than glass and therefore is less likely to chip or crack over time. The weight must be balanced so that it's comfortable to hold it, and the glass needs to be strong and durable. Make sure you look for environmental crystal. Lead-containing crystal glass is unsuitable for food and drink, so it is important to pay attention to the manufacturing process.
But if you're looking for the ultimate glassware, you need to make sure that it is just as strong in its aesthetic expression. The transparency and reflection of the glass, the texture, and the colours - all these elements create depth and allow the light to dance with the refractions and reflections.
We have recently come across a new glassware brand, Sipped Ltd. Sipped offers a range of unique, stunning and exclusive glassware, lovingly and personally selected by the founder, Eve Miles: "It all sparked in 2021 when our founder, Eve Miles, caught the glass bug after trying to find a something different for a family present. After browsing hundreds of stores she noticed a total lack of unique, handmade and visually stunning glassware. Inspired by this quest, the business Sipped Ltd was born".
We just love how unique the drinksware from Sipped is! It ticks all our boxes - the glass is made from quality crystal, it's environmentally friendly, and most of all, truly unique in it's artistic and aesthetic expression. See below some of our favourite choices for the most popular glass shapes, and how to match them with the right shape of the ice cube.
Glassware types and how to match them with clear ice shapes
Cocktail glasses come in all shapes and sizes, and it's important to match the drink to the glass correctly.
Also known as champagne saucers, the coupe glasses were originally used for drinking champagne in the early 1900's. Modern coupe glasses are used to serve craft cocktails, such as Gimlet, Bee's Knees, or Clover Club. We also used a coupe glass, the beautiful Lyon Champagne Saucer from Sipped, to serve our Ultimate Cocktail.
Elegant, classy, and timeless, the martini glass is used for what the name suggests. Whether it's a classic martini, an espresso martini, or a pornstar martini, these drinks can be drank straight up, or on the rocks. Although martini on the rocks is quite controversial, it is recently making a come back thanks to the large clear ice spheres offering minimal dilution of the drink. Ice Club's Cool Balls will take any martini to the next level., and will make it an unforgettable experience.
Check out the Lyon Martini Glass from Sipped. We are in love with its vintage-inspired design, featuring a rippled pattern and a beautiful olive green colour.
Also known as old fashioned glass, whisky glass or lowball glass. The rocks glass is short, wide, and sturdy, and is meant to serve drinks on the rocks, as the name suggests. Spirits that are best enjoyed in small quantities and sipped slowly, like whisky, can be served neat or over a large clear ice cube, either a Big Rock or a Cool Ball. These glasses are also used for classic, spirit-forward cocktails, such as Negroni or Old Fashioned. There's nothing cooler than an Old Fashioned served in a whisky glass on an ice sphere! If you want to add some edge to your whisky serve, try the Crystalex Whisky Glasses, as they mix the classic design and high quality crystal with the elegant patterns reflected in the decor of the glass which bring everlasting sparkle to every precious moment.
Also known as the Collins glass, or long drinks glass. A highball glass is a tall glass tumbler used to serve long cocktails and mixed drinks a large proportion of a non-alcoholic mixer. Highballs can be different shapes and sizes, however the traditional highball glass is shorter and wider in shape than the Collins glass. The shorter and wider highball we recommend for this season is the Hekla Swirl Tumbler from Sipped, in a beautiful intense blue colour. It is handcrafted from environmental crystal, using a special technique where an array of colours is splashed on the glass. It's height is 11.5cm, and it fits the Ice Club's High Cubes (11x4cm) perfectly. If you're looking for a taller highball, Sipped also stocks the taller Swirl range, for example the Swirl Long Drink Glass in Lilla.
Eye-catching, fun, bold, and unique - if that's what you're looking for, try the colourful mouthblown glassware from Sipped!
Step 5: Luxury clear ice
Last but not least, you need to use the right type of ice to create a luxury drinking experience. And when it comes to ice, size matters - and so does the clarity! Of course luxury cocktails can also be made with crushed ice or served straight up, but if you want to make a real impression, use a large chunk of crystal clear ice in your drink and it will instantly give your cocktail that luxury feel and look.
Here's a few things that make Diamond Collection ice the perfect choice for your Ultimate Cocktail:
Large surface area of supersized ice
Supersized ice melts 5x slower than regular ice. It reduces the contact surface area, minimising ice melt and therefore dilution of the drink. Due to the density of the ice and the fact it contains the purest of water with no air or impurities, it can maintain a lower temperature for longer than regular ice. This allows you to chill your drink to the optimum temperature without compromising on aroma or flavour.
Diamond-like clarity of clear ice
Clear ice, also known as large ice, craft ice, or artisan ice, is exactly what the name suggests. The ice has almost the same characteristics as a diamond, it's crystal clear, and without any hint of cloudiness. It's a proven fact that we taste with our eyes first. Large, crystal clear ice makes a dramatic