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Can't believe I'm asking this - When to do "up" vs. "on the rocks"?


Hassouni
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When you're creating an original cocktail, are there any guidelines for whether it should be served up or on the rocks? Some drinks worth both ways - Daiquiris are a prime example (up vs crushed ice), but I've seen Margaritas both ways, to say nothing of Manhattans (though frankly a rocks Manhattan is an abomination before me). To some extent, the Sazerac is nothing more than an un-rocked OF, with some absinthe added. Sours in general seem to go both ways, cf. the Daiquiri as mentioned, but also the Pisco sour, always up (because of the egg white?), vs the whiskey sour, which always seems to be on the rocks. Or indeed the Collins vs the Fizz, which at their core are the same except for ice.

 

So really, what dictates whether a drink gets ice at the end? Sometimes it seems obvious, if the flavors are very intense or the booze strong, like most tiki-style drinks, that ice is the answer, but otherwise less so.

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As you said, it's mostly arbitrary and based on tradition so feel free to do whatever you like if you're inventing a new drink. Drinks on the rocks stay cold longer at the cost of dilution. Long drinks are typically served on the rocks as you're expected to drink them slower and dilution impacts the drink less. Drinks involving carbonation are served on the rocks as there's no other practical way to chill them. Drinks that are carefully balanced should be served up so they don't fall out of balance as they sit.

Apart from these very broad guidelines, do whatever the hell you want.

PS: I am a guy.

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Drinks with mostly booze (old fashioneds and the likes) that benefit from some dilution are served on the rocks, with the Sazerac being one notable exception.

Long drinks (including tiki drinks) are served on the rocks for a practical reason - so they stay cold until you finish them.

Drinks with egg white are served up because most of the texture of the egg foam would be lost with ice cubes. I don't know why you would serve a whiskey sour with egg white on the rocks; it looks pretty terrible and you are just left with some residual foam on the ice cubes, so why even bother using the egg.

 

Some drinks indeed work both ways and it's just a matter of preference in that case. I've seen Manhattans served on the rocks or Negronis served up - not my preference, so in some establishments it's best to be very specific when ordering!

For margaritas, I've never seen them up in bars or restaurants (although it's my preference) - the options are generally blended or on the rocks, and I go for rocks in that case so I can at least taste the tequila.

Edited by FrogPrincesse (log)
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Shalmanese and Elise, I know exactly what you mean. It's those few, let's face it...mostly the sour family, and to a lesser extent, the aromatized wine cocktail family that really could go either way and that really led me to ask my question. Egg white definitely goes up, and agreed on long drinks and carbonated drinks definitely getting ice, but there seem to be no actionable guidelines other than that. I think Shalmanese's point about carefully balanced drinks being served up is quite valid...except for Tiki drinks, which are EXTREMELY carefully balanced and almost never served up.

 

Short of experimentation, let's say you were making a sour, 2 oz spirit, 0.5/0.5 sweet/sour, perhaps a dash of bitters or tincture of something. Would your instinct be to serve it up or on the rocks? Mine is to serve up, but I can't really explain why.

Edited by Hassouni (log)
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Short of experimentation, let's say you were making a sour, 2 oz spirit, 0.5/0.5 sweet/sour, perhaps a dash of bitters or tincture of something. Would your instinct be to serve it up or on the rocks? Mine is to serve up, but I can't really explain why.

 

That would be my instinct as well. The only case I might make an exception in is if the spirit component is very high proof. For example, the Smith & Cross punch follows this basic format, and I strongly prefer that drink over ice. 

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I look at the alcoholic content of the drink and try and work out how it is going to evolve as it dilutes/warms.

Can't give you a hard and fast though.

 

At my bar we also decide and sometimes balance drinks according to how many drinks we have going out in that particular glass.

We have offer guests a cross section of drinks, because when you're dealing with civilians you can't always rely on them to ask for modifications - their trust is in you, and also because we only have so many glasses of any one kind.

It's hard to keep a freezer stocked if you have everything going out in one glass.

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At my bar we also decide and sometimes balance drinks according to how many drinks we have going out in that particular glass.

We have offer guests a cross section of drinks, because when you're dealing with civilians you can't always rely on them to ask for modifications - their trust is in you, and also because we only have so many glasses of any one kind.

It's hard to keep a freezer stocked if you have everything going out in one glass.

 

 

I do this a lot too. The drink in question I was creating for tonight was up with 5 other drinks, 3 served in rocks glasses, and 1 served in a collins glass. Coupe for the new one won out, and I think it was probably the better for it.

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  • 2 weeks later...

Dave Arnold discusses this question in his new book.

DrunkLab.tumblr.com

”In Demerara some of the rum producers have a unique custom of placing chunks of raw meat in the casks to assist in aging, to absorb certain impurities, and to add a certain distinctive character.” -Peter Valaer, "Foreign and Domestic Rum," 1937

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