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Honkman

Substitutions in cocktail recipes

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As someone who likes to drink cocktails in bars but haven't really dived deeply into the world of making cocktails myself at home I always read with interest thr discussions here on eG about the different cocktail books, e.g. Death & Co etc. One thing I always wondered is that obviously if you don't work in a cocktail bar you most likely won't have such a broad selection of different spirits that you can make most recipes out of a book without relying on substitutions. But how do you decide what to use for a substitution ? If for example a cocktail recipe calls for an obscure/rare gin how do you decide what to use from your home collection, assuming you don't have only one gin at home. How do you know that your substitution is at least reasonable close in terms of flavor profile to the original choice in the recipe ? Is it just experience from tasting so many over the years (but do you really keep track if those flavor profiles) or are there webpage which have good overviews or do you don't care if your substitution is close in flavor profile and just see if the final product tastes good or not regardless how close the overall flavor is to the one from the book ?

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Based on experience, common sense etc. For example if the drink calls for one brand of demerara rum I don't have, I will replace it with another demerara rum of similar age/proof. If I don't have something in the same family, I usually look for tasting notes online and use something in my home bar with a similar flavor profile. Once you know general categories it's much easier to make substitutions and not affect the overall result too much.

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I don't mind experimenting. It will certainly be drinkable if your substitution is close. If it is really different, you may find an even better drink. And in between, you will learn how to adjust amounts to get a balance you like.

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As mentioned in the opening notes of the 5 Minutes of Rum article, a lot of this information about rum is available in the Beachbum Berry books and app. The app is especially convenient - you can click on any ingredient and a list of suggested brands/bottlings pops up together with a general description of the category.

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