It's a balancing act!

It seems like the simplest thing in the world: take a bit of lime juice, add some sugar and rum, shake it up with ice and strain it into a glass… the perfect daiquiri right? Well then why is it that sometimes I am left so disappointed by what should be the simplest of drinks? At other times I see the bartender reaching for flavours that are strong and counter-intuitive, but the finished drink is the embodiment of liquid perfection. It comes down to a matter of balance!
I was judging a cocktail competition recently and got talking to a young bartender who’s new to the trade, is passionate about cocktails and wants to learn more. He comes from a food background so understands flavour, but as he put it, ‘I just don’t quite know what I have to do to balance one ingredient against the next’. It made me wonder just how many young bartenders are banging out drinks to the spec they’ve been given by their bar manager, but who have never actually been shown how to balance a drink.
Well that seemed like the perfect reason for me to have a look at what it takes to balance a drink. It’s something that experienced bartenders seem to make look so easy but is the difference between having a great drinking experience or vowing never to return to the bar you’re visiting. It’s definitely one of the most important factors in making a drink and yet it seems it is seldom discussed.