If you speak to any bartender worth a salt, she/he will inevitably mention “balance” in some way.
It is what they will be looking to do for you. Create a great balanced experience for you and for your palate. Balance of flavour, sweet, sour, mood, weather, spirit choice, all about balance…
When you start bar-tending, “balance” is just about the tastes sweet and sour. Fine tuning the delicate “too sweet or too tart” complaint really.
As you gain experience, you learn rather interestingly that “balance” is more about the guests “balance” than just balanced measures of citrus with sugars.
Is it cold outside? Where have they been? Coming from work? Before or after dinner? What do they intend to eat? Here for one or seated at the bar for a coursed experience? All questions that your bartender (worth a salt) will ask herself/himself and you. Sometimes directly and sometimes with the subtlety of a psycho therapist.
Balancing drinks, like all great hospitality is about fine tuning the mood and rhythm. It is delicate and needs a lot of listening to understand.
Balance is not “hard” to attain, but it is a challenge.
These days with global palates that travel more than ever. The “standard palate” has developed very differently then when classic drinks books were written. For example the “Canadian” palate is rather “worldly” and has growing international desires AND still has a firm love for “lager style” beers and maple syrup. (We love maple syrup and produce 80% of the worlds so give us a break:)
The study of taste is still rather young and the “4 Tastes” (below) are at the core. In 2009, and still today, studies are showing a fifth taste, which some are familiar with ‘UMAMI” (delicious). This only made the challenge more exciting for bar tenders.
Today we also have so many new and exciting distilled spirits, and brands, along with incredibly fresh ingredients that make every classic a little new in some way.
When considering “balance” some drinks, like the Negroni and the Corpse Reviver #2, offer a perfect opportunity as a balanced “canvas” to work from. The recipes are equal portions, now it is just about the quality ingredients and my mood that will adjust the recipe.
The Corpse Reviver & #2 are delicious classics. Created in the 1920’s at the Ritz Bar, Paris, France. The ‘Reviver Cocktails’ have since become a family of drinks. Considered a bit of a “badge of honour” to have a House Reviver Cocktail for those guests needing a pick-me-up the morning after.
Reviver #2 is my favourite. Although this is a simple Passionfruit variation of the classic. The mood struck.
This variation is an ode to the Cocchi Americano & Boiron Puree. I find Cocchi a tad sweet and add the citrus and a dash of Passionfruit to make the cocktail dance. The Boiron Passionfruit Purée is rather bitter so it helps I draw out some of that sweetness. Boiron has served me well in many countries and for small variations.
Passionate Corpse Reviver #2
3/4 oz Tanqueray No. 10
3/4 oz Cointreau
3/4 oz Cocchi Americano
3/4 oz Fresh Lemon Juice
3 sprays or 1/8 oz Herbsainte
1/2 oz Boiron Passionfruit Puree
Luxardo Cherry with Lemon Rind (rinsed)
Add ingredients to shaker and shake well. Strain into chilled cocktail glass. Anise and Passionfruit are an amazing pair in this Passionate Corpse Reviver #2.