So, to kick off the party season we caught up with cocktail guru Jason Williams and got his do’s and don’ts of cocktail making.
Jason explains his top tips for making cocktails, the must-have cocktails for any party and reveals the wackiest cocktails he’s ever had to make!
What cocktail have you been asked to make the most?
Lately espresso martinis. Mojitos are still very popular too.
What's the most experimental cocktail you've ever made?
I have done all sorts of weird stuff! I have used squid ink, jerky-infused spirits, blue curacao foam, beetroot syrup. I have served drinks in poison bottles, toddlers gum boots, smoking pipes. All good fun and it gets the guest thinking but for every successful experiment, there is a few fails. A drink coming onto the loft’s new list is a Club Med which comes with a coconut hand cream to apply before sipping.
With party season just around the corner, which cocktail do you think is the "must-have" cocktail at any party?
Punch is a great way to make creative drinks at home when entertaining or partying. Start with dark sweet Caribbean rum or maybe floral English gin, add some sweet, add some sour - and go nuts from there.
What's your favourite cocktail?
My desert island cocktail would probably be a fresh mango daiquiri – nothing frozen. Strong white rum, fresh lime and slightly over ripe mango with some sugar. My favourite cocktail changes regularly though!
What must-have tools does someone need to have at home to make cocktails?
A shaker set, a strainer if needed, a citrus hand press and most importantly a jigger – this is to measure. It’s always tempting to add more of the good stuff but just like cooking - the recipe is very important!
What are your top tips for making cocktails?
Think about balance. Sweet, sour, bitter and strong. You don’t want any of those factors overtaking the drink so stick to a recipe, but then taste your cocktail before serving, and adjust if needed.
James bond always wanted his martinis shaken not stirred. Does it make a difference to the taste of a cocktail, if it's shaken or stirred?
Generally any cocktail with juice needs to be shaken to really mix the cocktail and bind the ingredients together, otherwise it will seem flat. Stirred cocktails are more alcohol driven so need to be handled more gently. As for the martini, stirred is my preferred method, particularly with gin. Shaking will chill it faster but will also add more dilution – water.
What's the most versatile cocktail base? (i.e. vodka, rum etc)
Vodka in one sense because it has an extremely subtle flavor profile (some countries define it as flavourless) so it can be mixed literally with anything. On another sense though rum, as it has a broad range of styles and flavours that can be used in all kinds of ways. Fresh, citrusy cocktails, big fruity numbers or even warm drinks such as a hot buttered rum.
Which cocktail would you recommend as a must-have at any Christmas party?
Gin and champagne punch. Loads of fresh strawberries and orange wheels. Lemon juice, guava juice and honey water (honey cut with hot water and chilled). Topped with some French bubbly.
Which cocktail would you recommend to bring in the New Year?
Have to go Champagne so maybe an Old Cuban; dark rum, fresh lime, sugar and aromatic mint. Shaken and strained into a cocktail glass then topped with champagne.