Drinking the ideal cocktail feels like a unique consonance of taste, captured impeccably in a glass. It doesn’t have to be unusual, however. Bartenders and cocktail connoisseurs actually use a (somewhat) secret formula that lets them recreate each drink perfectly every time.
Here’s a hint: math makes this happen.
The only thing you need to know is the “golden ratio” of cocktails, which will allow you to mix dozens of drinks without having to memorize them to the letter.
The Golden Ratio
Pretty much every cocktail recipe combines three basic ingredients:
- Alcohol as the drink’s base.
- A sour ingredient (e.g. lime, lemon juice).
- A sweet ingredient (e.g. triple sec, sweet vermouth).
The formula to achieve the perfect balance is 2:1:1. This means you use 2 parts alcohol, 1 part sour, and 1 part sweet.
For example, the Mojito recipe uses 2 ounces of rum, 1 ounce of lime juice, and 1 ounce of simple syrup (plus some mint leaves for flavor/garnish, and club soda as a filler).
Daiquiris, Margaritas, and Gimlets, and use this formula as well. If you switch the lemon juice for lime juice in a Gimlet then add soda, you end up with a Tom Collins.
The golden ratio is particularly useful when you’re out of one ingredient but have others that can serve as an alternative, like when you’re out of brandy but still have tequila.