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lesliec

What's the 'right' size/volume for a cocktail?

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This question was prompted by introducing one of my recent creations to my favourite bar last night.  They liked it, but commented it was a 'big drink'.

 

My primary source of inspiration is Kindred, where for the most part drinks seem to be somewhere around the three ounce mark - some a bit more, some a bit less.  Three or so ounces is also the amount my glasses will comfortably hold.  I'm quite happy with this situation, but do you think the concept of the 'normal' size of a cocktail varies from place to place or country to country?

 

To start the discussion, I recalled this post and one a couple further on in the Dead Rabbit topic in which @Rafa seems to suggest New York bartenders err on the side of generosity in their measurements.

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Big. Real big. Because you don't have to get up to mix another one as often.

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I always thought this was determined by glassware. Some bars use the 2 oz Oxo measuring cup and are hell-bent on scaling the recipe to fill it. After chilling, this perfectly fills their coupe. But a bar with a 7+ oz conical "Martini" glass wouldn't be able to this without appearing stingy.

 

For my home use, 2 oz is a bit skinny, but anything over 4 oz is asking to be down-scaled or upped to yield 2 drinks. The drink you linked to has awkward proportions, so scaling it accurately would be annoying, whereas a Last Word or Negroni can be made in any desired size without mental gymnastics.

 

I don't object to smaller drinks at a craft bar because I'm probably having two and don't want too much alcohol. But I expect a fair (not cheap) price and high quality ingredients.


Edited by EvergreenDan (log)
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A little over 3oz, prediluted, is my starting target if I'm trying to invent something new. 

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I agree with Dan and Craig, I find when you start getting much over the 3.5 oz mark pre-dilution (excluding Tiki or Collins style drinks obviously) you run the risk of overflowing the "standard" ~5oz coupe size. I prefer a little headroom in my drinks, it's more practical for spillage prevention and to my eye looks nicer, but that's clearly subjective. For shaken drinks especially, much bigger than that (again, excluding tiki or Collins-style drinks) and you also run the risk of the drink getting too warm before finishing.

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We have several old martini glasses. A few have broken over time, and I've discovered that large martini glasses are the current standard. I prefer the smaller size. Yep, I'm a cheap date; one is usually enough for a pre-dinner drink. And for those who wish to have a second one, it isn't overwhelming if the glass size is on the smaller side. I too like a little head room in my drink. I don't want to bend over and drink like a cat before I can reliably pick up my glass. And that goes especially for a second drink, when my sense of balance is already out of whack.

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56 minutes ago, Katie Meadow said:

We have several old martini glasses. A few have broken over time, and I've discovered that large martini glasses are the current standard. I prefer the smaller size. Yep, I'm a cheap date; one is usually enough for a pre-dinner drink. And for those who wish to have a second one, it isn't overwhelming if the glass size is on the smaller side. I too like a little head room in my drink. I don't want to bend over and drink like a cat before I can reliably pick up my glass. And that goes especially for a second drink, when my sense of balance is already out of whack.

 

I noticed the same when I was looking for cocktail glasses for a gift last year - they seem to tend towards HUGE right now. As I don't really drink to get drunk, I'd prefer smaller so the drink still looks 'right' in the glass even if it isn't a huge amount of alcohol. Plus, half the fun is trying new stuff - I can always make up a second drink if I really liked something enough to want more.

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Thanks for the comments.

 

Yes, I should have stated a few exclusions from the norm - a whacking greatTiki mug is not what I had in mind (not that I have anything against whacking great Tiki mugs!).  Dan, I wasn't using the drink in the Dead Rabbit posts as an example of anything; it was just to highlight Rafa's comments on filling the glass.

 

All the stemmed glasses we use now are coupes - op shop/thrift shop finds, mainly.  We have two sizes, and had anybody asked before I got up and did some measuring a couple of minutes ago I would had said the big ones were twice the size of the small.  Not so; it turns out the small ones hold around 120ml/4oz and the big ones are 150ml/5oz.  We've had the conical Martini style ones in the past; now long since broken, although we still have some cute tiny ones I occasionally find useful for liqueurs.

 

In my first post I mentioned most of what I find on Kindred, and what I aim for if I'm creating something, is around three ounces, but I wasn't factoring in dilution.  We sometimes use our smaller coupes for a second nightly drink should we feel like one - I'm having one as we speak - and the quantities for a single drink fill two of them comfortably (I agree a bit of headroom is good).  So 15 or 20 seconds or so of stirring adds - I still don't believe these numbers - somewhere around as much again in volume to the original spirit mix!

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Dilution that doubles a cocktail that starts at 3-3.5 oz pre dilution seems like a lot of dilution to me! One size doesn't fit all for cocktails of course but the bartending pros on the board can better comment on that. If you are getting that much dilution in just 15-20 seconds of stirring then perhaps your ice is on the wet side or else you need to stop using a curling iron for a stirrer! :D

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6 hours ago, tanstaafl2 said:

... or else you need to stop using a curling iron for a stirrer! :D

 

But it gives the drink such a lovely bouffant texture!!

 

Yes, the increase in volume surprised me.  My ice is common-or-garden stuff from the freezer but I didn't think it was too bad.

 

Oh no - does this mean I have to make another drink under scientifically controlled conditions?

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2 minutes ago, lesliec said:

 

But it gives the drink such a lovely bouffant texture!!

 

Yes, the increase in volume surprised me.  My ice is common-or-garden stuff from the freezer but I didn't think it was too bad.

 

Oh no - does this mean I have to make another drink under scientifically controlled conditions?

 

Try liquid nitrogen.

 

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Our standard cocktail size at home is in the 4 - 4.5 oz. size. 3 to 3.25 oz pre dilution. That gets the drink where it's supposed to be while it's still icy cold.

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The cocktails I make are typically 3 or 3.5 oz pre-dilution. Dilution adds about 20%. The coupes I use the most often are 4 and 5 oz. I use the 4 oz for stirred drinks (Martinis, Manhattans) and 5 oz for Daiquiris.

For parties I use smaller coupes so I can serve a group more quickly. Of course that means that a second round comes a bit sooner, but at least the drinks don't have time to warm up before they are finished! 

 

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IMO it depends on the type of drink and a little on the mood.

 

I like a smaller drink if it is really boozy because I am a cheap date. I generally use 1 1/2 oz of spirit for an old fashioned, ti punch, martini, or such for myself but realize that is on the small size and especially will look tiny in a big rocks glass. Strong and strained is best in a Nick & Nora IMO. That's not a bad amount for more complicated drinks or sours but of course you will end up with a larger drink as you add more stuff. And margaritas just don't seem right without a lot of tequila even if the proportions are the same - probably because they tend to end up too dilute after shaking - it's hard for me to scale that.

 

Lighter drinks I tend to go larger.

 

 

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