Technically Saturday: How to Layer Cocktails

Layering cocktails can be both fun and impressive.  Layering drinks means that each spirit or liquor doesn’t mix with the other ingredients in the drink and can be done in several ways.  The easiest way is to use two ingredients with vastly different densities: think of the oil and water effect.  Almost any spirit or liqueur can be layered on dense liquids such as cream or even dense liqueurs such as Baileys.  However with a bit of care, even similarly dense spirits can be layered to the point where they have more levels than Avicii.  Here’s how!

How to Layer Cocktails
  1. Find out the gravity of each of the spirits in your cocktail.  This is mixology speak for density.
  2. Pour the ingredient with the highest gravity into the glass and build up.  It is important to do your best not to get any on the sides of the glass.
  3. Place an up-side-down spoon in the glass and position the tip so it is on the inside wall just above the base layer you just poured.  Although opinions vary, I find that it is best to have the spoon close but not actually touching the previous layer.
  4. Very slowly pour the next heaviest ingredient, aiming for the edge of the spoon where it connects to the stem.  Slowly raise the spoon as the liquid level rises.
  5. Let the cocktail settle.  This is not a Catan reference, but will actually give the layers a chance to separate fully.  Your drink is ready to serve or add another layer once it has settled.
  6. Repeat 3-5 as necessary.  Serve carefully as to not shake the glass and mix the layers.

Below is a video demonstration of good cocktail layering:

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Posted in Technically Saturday, Techniques

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Nick McAfee
Nick McAfee is a student of Princeton University and is passionate about mixology. As a student with a low monthly income, he has developed ways to create simple cocktails with complex flavors from inexpensive ingredients. Learn more about Nick and Broke & Thirsty.
Do you want a free eBook on making homemade and ridiculously cheap bar syrups?

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