Cocktails 101 with Jay Jordan

Posted by Jay Jordan on
WSET 2, Certified Beer Server, Certified Specialist of Spirits, Certified Bourbon Professional

What makes a good cocktail? Is it the ingredients, the method or mixologist? The short answer is, all of the above. The concoction should be pleasing to the eye, nose and palate, all while stimulating the mind.

Start with quality ingredients, follow well laid out instructions and you’ll impress your guests at your next dinner party or event. Below are my top three classic cocktails along with their methodologies.

Happy Cocktail Month on behalf of the Cascadia team!



The Sour: classic cocktail recipe

The Sour’s not just a cocktail, it's an entire family of cocktails. Made with whisky or Amaretto, this classic holds a universe of flavours to the knowledgeable barkeep. Most people are unaware that the Sour may be the most consumed cocktail on the planet due to its various aliases: Gimlet, Bramble, Sidecar, Daiquiri, Margarita, Cosmopolitan, Collins, etc.


A simple, balanced formula: two parts spirit, one sweet, one sour.

2 oz spirit
1 oz simple syrup
1 oz fresh lemon or lime juice

Tips on modifying The Sour:

Swap out the spirits. Add some spice. Use flavoured spirits. Change up the acid. Add a little egg white for texture and foam. This drink is all about the balance. As long as you get that right, the only limit here is your creativity.



The Waterfall Pour AKA The 3-2-1 Negroni

The Negroni is well-known for being equal parts gin, sweet vermouth and Campari. It sounds great. It’s easy to remember. People love it. Except that fewer and fewer bartenders actually make a Negroni like that anymore. Between new styles of gin and changing consumer palates, the Negroni recipe has morphed into a 3-2-1 configuration that's 3 parts gin, 2 parts vermouth, 1 part Amaro.


I love this adaptation because of its versatility. You can use an array of spirits in place of gin, fortified wine for vermouth or a variety of Amaro. Create your own mixture using this formula.

1 oz spirit
½ oz vermouth
¼ oz amaro



Fancy as Fig

Islay scotch and Sauternes are luxurious indulgences on their own. This cocktail relies on the rich flavours of peaty scotch and late harvest dessert wine combined with figs and black walnuts. Paired, they’re remarkable. It’s a rich and smoky drink with dried fruit, toasty vanilla and caramel flavours. The perfect way to enjoy a fire and a cool fall evening. These flavours are some of the greatest pleasures of fall.



1 ¾ oz Highland Park 12 Year Old Scotch
½ oz Chateau de Armajan Sauternes
1 fig (quartered)
2 dashes Fee Brothers Black Walnut Bitters
bar spoon of maple syrup
orange twist to garnish

Place fig quarters in the bottom of a mixing glass and cover with Sauternes and maple syrup. Muddle the mixture until it has a fairly smooth consistency. Fill mixing glass with ice and add Scotch and bitters. Stir until chilled. Strain through a tea strainer into a rocks glass filled with a large ice cube. 

Notes: Sauternes is a late harvest dessert wine made from grapes that have been affected by Noble Rot. Noble rot gives this wine a distinctive ginger, honey and nut flavour. Combined with the wine’s dried apricot flavour and lengthy finish this is a perfect pairing for the light honey and heather peat notes of Highland Park Scotch.

Try this recipe!

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