Spirits and Cocktails
There are a great many spirits in the world. But what we now normally call spirits embrace the five in widespread everyday use — Whisky, Gin, Vodka, Rum and Brandy. And for present purposes, we are applying the word ‘cocktail’ to some mixed drinks — long and short — associated with these principal spirits. They’re well worth the flourish if you have time and panache.
Spirits are produced by distillation: from a mildly alcoholic liquor, the alcohol is collected and concentrated. Alcohol vaporizes at 78.3°C and water at 100°C; theoretically you have only to bring the original brew to 78.3°C, to separate the alcohol from the water. Basic distillation can take place in the traditional pot-still, or in a more complicated patent-still, where distillation can be carried on continuously.
When cocktails are not made in the glass from which they will be drunk, most cocktails can be, and many should be, mixed: drinks containing heavy cordials improve by being shaken in a cocktail-shaker (though it’s not essential). Use ice generously in all cases, except where stated. In recipes, numbers refer to quantities of a measure, or fractions of it: a measure is a standard 1 fluid ounce (30-millilitre) jigger.