If your New Year’s resolution is to get set up at home for making cocktails worthy of an inner-city destination bar, we definitely approve. But what are the cocktails that everyone is going to be ordering, mixing and, most importantly, drinking? We asked two leading bartenders for their predictions and here are the recipes they shared. Read on to find out why you should add these easy drinks to your repertoire, and what you need to make them.
Simple cocktails with easy-to-learn ratios are a key trend for 2023, and whisky cocktails are winning fans among drinkers who may not favour it straight or on the rocks. “Whisky is not just for sipping neat! It’s full of flavour and character but also extremely versatile,” says whisky expert Katie Nagar (below left). Katie’s easy whisky cocktail follows a formula she calls +2: “It’s equal parts Singleton 12-year-old, a still mixer, and a sparkling mixer. It works with all sorts of ingredients to deliver a cocktail that has maximum flavour with minimum fuss. Just build your ingredients in a glass over ice and garnish. It’s that easy!”
Ingredients (serves 1)
Ice cubes, to serve
50ml Singleton 12YO Single Malt Scotch Whisky
50ml guava nectar
50ml Fever Tree Sparkling Grapefruit Soda
Ruby Red grapefruit slice, to serve
1. Fill a serving glass with ice. Add the whisky, guava nectar and soda.
2. Garnish with grapefruit and serve.
For a sunset twist on this cocktail, swap the guava nectar for freshly squeezed orange juice and the soda for guava-flavoured soda.
People with a passion for premium Aussie gin who love drinks that pop with colour won’t be able to resist this deliciously retro cocktail made with vibrant blue curaçao liqueur. This tropical-tasting mid-century cocktail is traditionally made with rum and sometimes vodka, but the gin brings it right up to date. The classic version uses coconut cream, but bartender Sarah Mycock (above right) has freshened it up with coconut water. “The coconut flavour isn’t super strong, but it gives it a nice mouthfeel,” she says. It’s simple to make: “Fresh citrus cocktails are always better to shake than stir, so put everything into a tin and give it a good shake.”
Ingredients (serves 1)
45ml 23rd Street Signature Gin
15ml blue curaçao liqueur
15ml lemon juice
30ml pineapple juice
30ml coconut water
Pineapple or citrus rind, to garnish
1. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add the gin, blue curaçao, lemon juice, pineapple juice and coconut water. Shake until well combined.
2. Pour into a serving glass. Garnish and serve.
For a creamy twist on this cocktail, swap the coconut water for coconut cream.
Diageo Whisky Expert Katie Nagar’s background in bar and restaurant hospitality has given her a solid grounding in trend-spotting, but when friends come around her first priority is bringing people together to enjoy drinks that are as accessible as they are delicious. “I like flexing my creativity and trying new techniques and recipes, but ultimately the most rewarding part is helping people to connect and have a good time,” she says. “The drink itself is important, but you’ll always remember the good banter you had with the bartender over what the drink tasted like.” Katie’s drinks knowledge has been shaped by working closely with chefs. “The bar world has long been learning from the knowledge and techniques of the kitchen,” she says. “Chefs are masters at manipulating flavour and a great resource to tap into to improve your drinks-making skills.” Like chefs, drinks insiders have their own lingo, such as the term they use for cocktail recipes. “We use ‘specs’ when referring to a recipe for a drink,” Katie says. “So instead of asking, ‘How did you make this?’ you would say, ‘What are your specs?’”
Award-winning bartender Sarah Mycock is the manager of Sydney CBD bar Old Mates’ Place and describes her own drinks style as “simple and approachable”. She says making great cocktails is about finding easy ways to take traditional drinks and give them your own spin. “Putting your own little twist on a classic cocktail using seasonal produce is a great way to stand out,” she says. “I love having a creative platform where I get to express myself.”
Originally from the US, Katie has also lived in South-East Asia and loves cocktails with tropical flavours. “Who doesn’t want some delightful tropical fruit in their cocktail?” she says. She’s also a big fan of premium mixers including the Fever-Tree range. “I love carbonated drinks, so soda water, tonic, ginger beer and pretty much any fizzy soft drink are a staple,” she says. “Fever Tree makes top-quality non-alcoholic mixers in a wide array of flavours so they’re a great option.” For Sarah, it’s soda all the way. “Soda water is my go-to,” she says. “Adding a little spritz to a cocktail is a lovely way to lighten it up.”
If you’re not set up with a full kit of bar equipment, it’s fine to improvise. “A big jam jar can work for shaking drinks, and large glass with a chopstick can do the trick if you need to stir a martini down, Katie says. Her best tip is to make sure you have plenty of ice when you mix drinks. “Ice is crucial and is often overlooked when people make drinks at home,” she says. Getting the right ratios is also important – “delicious drinks are all about balance,” Katie says. Sarah agrees but says while a jigger is essential, it will only get you so far. “Trust your tongue! You will read a lot of different specs for a lot of different cocktails but it’s all about being able to balance a drink.” As for garnishing, it’s simple: “make sure you have a nice sharp knife!”
Citrus cocktails are high on the list for 2023 and here’s a great gin to base them on. Award winning 23rd Street Signature Gin is made in a creative distillery in Renmark in the Riverland region of South Australia. 23rd Street Distillery uses locally sourced citrus as part of its botanical blend for this copper-distilled gin and the notes of mandarin and lime are complemented by layers of juniper, coriander and spice. It’s also perfect in a citrus-infused G&T.
You’ll probably be making a lot of whisky cocktails in 2023, so a smooth, balanced single malt is a must-have for your home bar. From Dufftown in the Speyside region, award-winning Singleton 12YO Single Malt Scotch Whisky is matured in ex sherry and bourbon casks and has the warmth, fruitiness and hints of sweetness you want in a quality single malt.