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Consider the Taste or Theme of the Cocktail
Before you start mixing ingredients, it's a good idea to consider what you want the drink to taste like. You may even want to come up with a theme. This theme could be a refreshing summer drink, a cocktail centered around particular alcohol, or a beverage for a certain occasion.
Once you have an idea of what you're going for, consider your flavors, and try to balance them. It's often best to pair sweet ingredients with sour ones in order to achieve this balance. You'll also want to pair flavors that go well together. Fruit syrups or juices, for example, may work better with certain alcohols, such as vodka, which brings a crisp, refreshing taste to the drink. Sweeter alcohols, such as rum, on the other hand, may need to be paired with a more neutral or even tart flavor in order to bring out their own unique flavors.
Follow Basic Cocktail Making Rules at First
Experimenting with drinks is fun and exciting, but when you're first starting, it's often best to follow a few basic rules so that you have guidelines to work within. This also helps when considering how much of any given ingredient to use.
Generally, cocktail creators can judge how much alcohol to use depending on whether the drink is served straight up or on the rocks. Cocktails that are served straight up are often shaken with ice. These cocktails contain about three ounces of ingredients and will also gain about an ounce of water after being shaken with the ice.
How the drink is shaken or stirred is also important. Drinks that are made entirely of alcohol or drinks that contain carbonated mixers should be stirred. Drinks that contain fruit juice or other thicker ingredients should be shaken.
Add Your Own Twist
Creating your own signature drink can often be as simple as updating a classic. Add an unexpected ingredient to a mojito or vodka and tonic for a bit of flair. It's also important to add these small touches to any cocktail you craft. Edging the glass with lime, salt, or sugar or using a hint of flavors, such as herbs or citrus twists, when shaking the drink can enhance the flavors in the final cocktail. This will also help to make your drink more interesting and more complex, and will certainly wow your friends or guests.