In the wine world, the higher the ABV, the bigger the body and the richer and fuller the flavor. It’s the same with cocktails. Let’s say you want to bump up the weight and mouthfeel of a drink without changing its overall character. One ingredient can deftly do both.
Piquette’s cocktail uses vodka as the dominant spirit to avoid overwhelming the palate, yet it’s moderated and given dimension with oloroso sherry for nutty depth, coconut lemongrass syrup, orange juice and rhum agricole, which gives grassy notes to compliment the lemongrass.
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Cook uses vodka to even out this blackberry sour, which seemed a little too ginny. “I was in love with the drink, [but] it was almost too botanical and becoming unbalanced,” he says. “I knew that I still wanted to have two ounces of spirit but maybe dial it back just a touch.” Tweaking the ratio to equal-parts gin and vodka did the trick. He suggests experimenting with different amounts as even a small half-ounce pour can do wonders.
Johnson’s cocktail is the lovechild of a Vesper and an Aviation. It stirs Opihr gin, Republic Restoratives Civic vodka, Salers gentian apéritif, crème de violette and lemon bitters, garnished with a brandied cherry and half-moon lemon peel. Using Salers instead of the Lillet in a Vesper lends a spicy note, while vodka gives textural richness that offsets gin, which can be astringent and lean. “By using a grain spirit that has more viscosity, it coats the palate, leaving behind a lingering finish instead of a quick, dry one,” says Johnson.