Finding the Perfect Cocktail Ratio

There are margaritas and then there are lime juices with booze. While we don’t all have years of experience bartending, here are two simple methods to make decent mixes in no time.

The Cut and Try approach

“Mixology” assumes that an ideal cocktail consists of 3 types of ingredients: the featured or base note, a supporting or complementary one, and a highlight or accent. Finding a perfect combination is often times the result of a long and fierce trial and error process. The recipe once found is jealously kept in notebooks and traded only among insiders.

The Golden Ratio

However, Charles Cowdery argues that the same way visual artists have embraced the golden ratio as the secret to eye-pleasing design, cocktail mixers also have their ratio: 3:2:1 as in three measures of a base spirit such as vodka, rum, brandy, etc, two parts of liqueur or other type of mixer and a single dosage of fruit juice. For the margarita, it means tequila, triple sec and lime juice; or whiskey, sour mix and cherry to whip up a great whiskey sour.

The Simple Formula

A genius mixologist figured, for his part, that the secret to the perfect cocktail ratio is 2:1:1, liquor (whiskey, tequila, vodka) to tart (bitters, acid fruit juices) to sweet (juices, syrup, sugar). While this offers a world of creativity, the challenge is to maintain a certain balance in the mix and find complementary components in order to achieve a special, outstanding taste.

What is the recipe to your favorite cocktail? So far, for my part, the only proportions I followed for mixtures is derived from the answer to life, the universe and everything: 4 measures of this, 2 of that and cheers.