I recently got together with the talented, beautiful + hilarious Randa Salloum, fashion blogger, entrepreneur and Brand Ambassador for Remy Martin + Cointreau (among other brands) and was tasked with created a “dark cocktail” that incorporated some of the spirits in her brands’ portfolios.
With summer on the horizon, I immediately thought of creating a modern take on a Singapore Sling but with the added touches of intrigue and elegance. After contemplating a few different ideas, the Black Cherry Sling was born.
Want to know how to make this cocktail?
Hop on over to Randa’s website here.
Hop on over to Randa’s website here.
However, if you’re interested in learning about the technical elements of creating a visually appealing cocktail, you’ve come to the right place. Now, when thinking about the presentation of a cocktail, whether it be for an event, at a bar or for a photoshoot, there are four main elements to consider: your glassware choice, garnish, the noteworthy factor and overall visual appeal of the drink.
Below are some key questions that you can ask yourself before creating the cocktail and a case study on how we created the Black Cherry Sling:
1. GLASSWARE SELECTION
- How many ounces of liquid are in the drink + how does that impact what type of glass to use? (i.e. Would you serve a 2 oz martini in a tall glass? How would that impact the reveal of the drink?)
- What type of audience are you presenting this drink to?
- Which glass will best enhance the visual appeal of the beverage?
When thinking about serving this cocktail, we went through five different options including martini glasses, stemless martini glasses, coupes, collins glasses and champagne glasses (Want a crash course on whiskey glassware? Click here). We settled on champagne glasses as we were looking to create colour separations in the cocktail and with a glass that is wider and more shallow, the same effect wouldn’t be achieved.
2. THE GARNISH
- What is the purpose of the garnish? Aesthetic value, to add an extra element of taste to the cocktail or both?
- Does the garnish serve a function?
- Where are you placing it? On the rim of the glass, in the drink, or across the glass?
After testing out a few different ideas Randa and I had differing ideas for the garnish. She liked the simple elegance of a single cherry on the rim of the glass. I on the other hand like three cherries skewered and placed into the drink. The skewer not only adds visual appeal but serves a purpose — you can stir all of the ingredients together in the glass before drinking it. There’s no right or wrong, better or worse option here. Just choose a garnish that enhances the intention of the drink for you and your audience.
3. THE NOTEWORTHY FACTOR
- Does it catch your eye?
- What about the drink is unique, different or unseen before?
For us we wanted the interest point to be that the cocktail was black. To make a cocktail black or a very dark hue, there a few different options for ingredients. We could have used blackberries, dark teas, Blavod, Black Sambucca, or squid ink among other things. I settled on activated charcoal as it’s been said to cure / hinder hangovers while absorbing metabolites and toxins. And it’s fairly tasteless.
Instead of having the drink entirely black, we settled on there being a colour separation to create that extra factor of intrigue. This took a number of trials to perfect but we finally found a way to keep the separation consistent with the beverages.
4. OVERALL VISUAL APPEAL
- What colour is the drink?
- Does it look appetizing?
- How does the taste + texture of the drink correspond with how it looks (can you judge this book by its cover so to speak?)
Visual Appeal Considerations
When we first made a trial of this cocktail, the entire drink was black. For photos and during the initial presentation this may be slightly off putting to people or unappetizing. As mentioned above, to make it more visually appealing we decided to make the drink black on the bottom and clear on top. And unsurprisingly there is a science to this. In order to successfully layer cocktails or shooters, the rule of thumb is to use the heaviest or most dense liquid in the bottom and work upwards. Our black cherry syrup was the most dense ingredient and therefore we placed it in the bottom of the glass. Because Cointreau and Gin are clear liquids, we weren’t too concerned with their densities but technically Cointreau is more dense than water/sparkling water and Gin is less dense because of its alcohol level content.
All-in-all this cocktail presented something new and fresh, utilized some of the great brands that Randa gets to work with and it tasted absolutely delicious. Cheers to that!
Stay tuned for the rest of the Drink Design series where I cover Taste, Aroma, Texture + Characteristics. Questions? Comments? As always, you can leave them below.