Today we are talking swizzled drinks, because if you’re anything like me, your only recollection of the swizzling method of mixology is the sound of swoosh swoosh swoosh swoosh as the stick moves through pebbled ice before a cocktail lands in your hand.
At first glance when watching the creation of a swizzle, (which is a tiki style drink,) it might seem a bit rudimentary as just another process to mix a drink. However, that funky looking little stick with its protruding arms on the end is doing much more than one might think! A swizzle stick can be used to stir still drinks or take the fizz out of sparkling ones, while simultaneously circulating crushed ice for the perfect degree of dilution. The traditional swizzle stick is crafted from the wood of the Quararibea turbinata tree, which also provides the stick with a distinct maple scent that emboldens flavor within swizzled cocktails.
The process of making a swizzled cocktail begins by placing all your cocktail ingredients into a highball glass filling it half way with pebbled (crushed) ice. Then, holding the shaft of the swizzle stick between the palms of your hands you move them back and forth, thus rotating the stick within the glass (think of the motion you would use to start a fire using the old stick and friction method). Top off the cocktail with more pebbled ice and dashes of either ANGOSTURA aromatic bitters or orange bitters, and you have yourselves a swizzled cocktail my friends!
Given the fact that swizzles are typically tiki in nature and The House of ANGOSTURA, based in tropical Trinidad and Tobago, has been blending bitters for more than 190 years and producing fine rums for 130 years, mastering the art of aging and blending, the two are a match made in cocktail heaven!
Simply put, ANGOSTURA aromatic and orange bitters are the essential ingredients to bring signature swizzled drinks to life given the balance and versatility of aromatic bitters and the complex blend of tropical oranges and spices of orange bitters.
For my own swizzle journey, I was invited to work in partnership with The House of ANGOSTURA during its Swizzle Royale bartender competition here in Denver, Colorado at Adrift Tiki Bar. The competition pitted some of Colorado’s finest mixers and shakers against one another to showcase their swizzle skills. The evening began with presentations of each bartenders’ own unique swizzle creation. After narrowing down the four best swizzles, the winning bartenders were challenged to face each other in a speed round. The speed round allotted five minutes, in which the bartenders made six drinks, showing off three separate swizzle recipes. As you can imagine this round was a frenzy of cocktail making! After the second round, two finalists were selected to develop swizzles using a mystery box of ingredients!
The Swizzle Royale event was an amazing experience that truly showcased a variety of drinks utilizing both ANGOSTURA rums and bitters and incorporating the swizzle stick to elevate a cocktail.
*Side note* because I had to know for my own OCD sanity, as legend has it, ANGOSTURA aromatic bitters’ too-big label came into being when the Siegert brothers divided tasks – one brother was responsible for labeling, and the other was responsible for bottle sourcing. The two miscommunicated, resulting in a mistakenly oversized label that to
this day remains the brand’s signature. So yes, they know their label isn’t the right size and us anal OCD people just need to get over it!
Now that I have told you all about ANGOSTURA and swizzles, I am sure that you are feeling a bit thirsty and ready to swizzle up a storm, so here is a mainstay of the swizzle cocktail world courtesy of ANGOSTURA!
“Queen’s Park Swizzle”
2 oz ANGOSTURA 7 Year Old Rum
1 oz Demerara simple syrup
1 oz fresh lime juice
12-14 mint leaves
6-8 dashes ANGOSTURA aromatic bitters
Build in a highball glass; muddle mint leaves in lime juice and simple syrup then fill glass with dry crushed ice. Pour rum over crushed ice and swizzle well until glass is ice-cold and frosted. Pack glass with more crushed ice and top with ANGOSTURA aromatic bitters.
Easy peasy, right? Well if you’re feeling like a swizzle master, it’s time to show what you’ve got by entering ANGOSTURA’s #SwizzleContest. Running through the end of August, create and share your own swizzle for a chance to win a trip to the Austin City Limits Music Festival this October. Your master creation will be shown off and served at the ANGOSTURA VIP setup during the festival, and lets be honest, you’ll get some pretty sweet bragging rights among your friends and on the ‘gram.
Happy swizzling my friends!