You may think you know all the techniques for making cocktails but there might just be one hiding in your kitchen of which you weren’t aware.
Your trusty French Press, that has always been there to handle the most desperate of coffee emergencies, may just be the ally you didn’t expect behind the bar.
The Fresh Press is great for making small-batch cocktails for two to four people (depending on the size of your Press) and provides a unique flavour compared to other techniques.
Why Mix Drinks With A French Press?
Using a French press cocktails will definitively change the way you think about mixing drinks.
If you have ever tasted the difference between drip coffee and French press coffee, you’ll understand the difference in flavour that a Press can produce. The experience is richer and more flavoursome.
Added to that is the advantage of a built in strainer that can deal with anything your cocktail has in it, equally as well as it deals with coffee grounds.
How Does A French Press Work?
So much flavour can be added through the process of steeping and the Fresh Press easily allows you to infuse the flavour of fruits, teas and herbs. Once the plunger is depressed, the flavours in the solids and the flavours in whatever spirits you are using and be slightly aerated at the same time.
The flavour is multidimensional and only increases the longer the ingredients are left in the Press. In other words you get all the benefits of rapid infusion without the stress.
You Can Create Both Hot Drinks & Cold
One of the great advantages is that the Press can handle cold drinks with the same ease that it does hot.
Drinks like a hot toddy are an obvious choice for a French Press, as Tea as well as spices such as Ginger, Cloves, Allspice, or Cinnamon are just waiting to have their flavours released.
It’s important though that the water you add is hot but not boiling. You can also add heated liquors, although be careful not to ruin the aromatics.
With colds drinks, its worth letting any mixtures rest a little longer as you are not relying on the heat to infuse. Depending on the ingredients and the flavour you’re going for, that could be anywhere from five to fifteen minutes.
You can add a couple of ice cubes under the plunger. Realise that it will create more dilution, which may not be a bad thing. But if dilution is an issue, simply pour the drink over ice in your serving glass.
Ingredients to Try
If you can find it in a garden or the market’s produce section, it’s likely that it can be added to your French press. Think about the flavour combinations that you’ve liked in other cocktails or even in cooking and prepare them in a way so the flavours will be released under the pressure of the plunger.
Berries, pomegranate, and grapes can be mashed; apples, mangoes, and pears can be sliced; citrus fruits can be added as squeezed wedges or as the peel alone. You can also puree or finely chop ingredients like beets, carrots, and rhubarb. Herbs should be muddled, torn, or bruised.
Tea is another great addition and you can simply add a tea bag or whole-leaf tea to the press. You can also warm-brew tea, chill it, then add it to the French press as one of your main liquid ingredients.
Tips & Tricks
The joy of the Fresh Press is that it’s pretty hard to make a bad drink. With this in mind, the process is all about experimentation and considering which flavours will work well with one another.
While it’s all about fun, there are a few tips that will make your Fresh Press cocktails all the better.
Mash or muddle whole ingredients
Always keep in mind that the Fresh Press is not a juicer, so it really can’t press the juice out of whole fruits or even sufficiently bruise herbs to release their oils. A little muddling at the start will ensure great results. But just remember, don’t be too forceful with your muddling.
Use any liquor you like
Dark spirits or light, the French Press will build own the natural flavours and aromatics in whatever spirits, tea or syrup you choose to add.
Carbonated ingredients are okay
Although the press with flatten out some of the bubbles in a carbonated drink, there will always be some effervescence. If you are keen to have a little of the bubbles, but nothing that is too overwhelming, then the French Press is perfect.
Clean your press well
A lot of people choose to have two Presses – one for their coffee and another for their cocktails. If you are cleaning your Press thoroughly, then the flavour of the coffee should not come through.
Sample as you infuse
It may not have dawned on you but with a French Press you can always take a sneaky taste of your infusions as you go.
The size of your press matters
It may seem obvious but the size of your Press will determine the number of drinks you can make. If you are buying a Press and you know that you’ll be using it when all your friends come over, perhaps go for the 12 cup rather than the 3.