Using vinegar in cocktails is an alternate approach to adding acidity to drinks without using citrus or powder acids. In Low- or No-ABV cocktails using vinegar can create sophisticated and unique flavors outside the typical fruit, citrus, and sugar combos found on today’s menus.
According to Jillian Vose, master mixologist at the award-winning cocktail bar, The Dead Rabbit, a little vinegar goes a long way. “Vinegar can be a great addition to your bar cart as it has a longer shelf life than most fortified wines and sugar syrup,” she says.
Throughout her years at The Dead Rabbit, the bar was crowned World’s 50 Best Bar and Tales of the Cocktail World Best Bar and Best Menu, a menu to which Vose contributed over 40 cocktails. We asked Jillian why vinegar is a must have bar cart item this season. Here’s what she had to say.
How are the different ways bartenders incorporate vinegar in cocktails?
The different ways to incorporate vinegar into a drink are by adding the pure form of the vinegar with the proportion dependent on the desired acidity vs sweet and rich vs thin. You can make countless types of shrubs. If you can make something into a syrup, then it can usually be a great shrub. You can infuse the vinegar with water soluble herbs, spices or produce that have strong flavor characteristics like that of spicy peppers.
What are the different types of vinegars bartenders can mix with?
I mean you can use whatever vinegar you enjoy most. I would, however, avoid using large quantities of those that are super sour. If you desire to have that quality in the drink, then start sparingly and add as needed. I find that the blanco balsamic is the most versatile and makes for a nice yellowish hue stirred in drinks and doesn’t affect the color or shaken style drinks. For making shrubs containing fruit, I find apple cider vinegar works very well. Red wine vinegar is great for infusions or adding acidity without influencing the texture of the drink much, unless you’re using enough to thin the drink out.
How do you choose a particular vinegar to mix with?
When choosing the type of vinegar for the drink at hand, you’ll obviously want to taste and analyze it on its own first, just like you’d taste a wine or spirit, write down your tasting and aromatics notes. Other than flavor, the other key factors to consider are sweetness or sourness, and texture. If you’re looking for something to add texture and not contribute a lot of acid, go with something on the sweeter side like the Carandini Balsamics. For something more on the sour side I’d use something less viscous. There are no right or wrong spirits in which to use vinegars alongside in cocktails. However, this is just basic common sense. If it sounds unpleasant, then it probably is.
Talk to us about collaborating with Carandini, How did this come about?
I was pleasantly surprised when Carandini reached out to work together some months ago. Although I had included cocktails on menus that contained vinegar, it was not a go-to ingredient for me. Working with Carandini has taught me to treat vinegar as you would fortified wines, wines, and spirits. The vinegar needs to be of good quality and fresh and stored correctly.
Collaborating with Carandini, one of the oldest acetifici of vinegars in Modena, Vose recently developed original cocktails, both boozy and zero-proof, infused with the centuries-old “Emilio” Balsamic Vinegar of Modena PGI and “Bianca” Sweet White Vinegar. To recreate the boldness of a vinegar-infused savory cooler or an Italian twist on the classic Martini, Vose recommends that home bartenders use a high-quality, heritage product such as Carandini’s.
Check out these two recipes that unveil Vose’s mastery in crafting a refined recipe around a single ingredient as well as highlight the beloved Italian pantry staple’s unique versatility.
N/A CARANDINI COOLER
- 3 oz chilled Hibiscus Tea
- 3/4 oz Earl Gray Tea Syrup
- 1/2 oz Carandini “Emilio” (Balsamic Vinegar of Modena PGI)
- Non-Alcoholic Sparkling Rosé Wine
Preparation: Build drink over cracked ice in a medium sized wine glass, top with n/a sparkling rosé wine. Give a light stir. Garnish with grapefruit oils, discard the peel.
MARTINI W/ BIANCA SWEET WHITE VINEGAR
- 1/2 teaspoon Passionfruit Syrup
- 1/2 oz Carandini “Bianca” (Sweet White Vinegar)
- 3/4 oz Martini & Rossi Ambruata Vermouth
- 1/2 oz Pierre Ferrand Pineau des Charentes
- 1 oz Bacardi Ocho Rum
Preparation: In a mixing glass, add liquids and fill with ice. Stir well and strain off ice with a julep strainer into a nick & Nora Glass. Express lemon oils over the top of the finished drink and discard the peel.