So what do we mean by dilution strategy? There are many ways to dilute a drink. Shaken, stirred, on the rocks, crushed ice, add soda, the list goes on. When making a drink or coming up with a new drink, it’s an important thing to think about. How the drink dilutes can dramatically affect how it tastes. For this post, we decided to make one drink three ways: shaken with soda, over cracked ice and on the rocks. We then tasted the three versions side-by-side to see which type of dilution really made the drink pop.
We started off making a fairly simple new drink to celebrate the (admittedly slow, around here ;)) advent of warm weather. It’s a close cousin of the daiquiri, just using maraschino to add sweetness and some complementary flavor to rum and lime.
La Belle Dame sans Merci
- 2 1/2 oz light rum (Skip Rock Belle Rose if you can find it. It’s pretty amazing. We might be in love. If you can’t find it, a sweet, rich, non-funky light rum will do.)
- 1/2 oz Maraska maraschino
- 1/2 oz lime juice
- 1 bar spoon simple syrup
Shake gently with ice. Strain into a glass.
- Nose: Cherry, almond, lime, lemon tart pastry.
- Palate: Sweet lemon and lime plus vanilla pastry cream to start. Cooked sweet cherries and light almond on the mid-palate. Nice refreshing lime finish, mostly dry with a good balance of bitterness and tartness.
- Nose: Much fainter compared to the other two, less citrus.
- Palate: Not bad, but not as interesting. Citrus is a little flat. Flavors are there, but it lacks nuance, no highs or lows. Seems somewhat subdued. We think the temperature difference compared to the iced drinks also plays a part in the flatness of the palate.
- Nose: Moderately strong.
- Palate: Dilutes a little too quickly, but good flavor. We really liked it as long as we kept topping it off with the sidecar we had leftover from mixing. It is actually kind of a brilliant serving strategy – cracked ice for quick dilution and a cold drink, but you can add more as you like to get exactly the flavor and temperature balance your prefer.
On the Rocks
- Nose: Strongest smelling of the three.
- Palate: Too strong initially, great once it dilutes a bit. This would be the right approach if you were actually drinking this when it was hot out, we think. The rate of dilution would probably be a little higher.
So, for this drink, we think cracked ice (especially if you can top it off!) or regular sized ice cubes. That will dilute things appropriately and drop the temperature to what seems to be the sweet spot. One or two big cubes would work well for slow drinkers (which we’ve heard exist, but we’ve never known any) or hot weather.
So next time you are making a new drink or noodling with a drink you know, remember that there’s more to life than just shaking or stirring. You can control dilution and temperature in a number of ways, and your drink will be all the better when you find out which one suits it best.