MxMo 109 – Dry Cocktails

This month is our first time hosting Mixology Monday and there’s only one way to describe it:

Dry Cocktails

Here’s how it started –

The shift was over and the four of us had packed up the bar and moved on to whatever watering hole would take us in for a knock-off drink. It was a cool bar that looked a bit like somewhere the henchmen in a Tim Burton Batman movie might go for a drink after shaking down the citizens of Gotham and has a reputation as one of the best cocktail bars in the city.

The table’s orders are taken and I’m the last, suddenly feeling the pressure of indecision flowing over me like a 50kg tub of agave syrup. My elbow still ached from all the Tommy’s I’d been shaking up.

“Uh… I’ll have anything that’s dry… like really dry.”

Barman smiles and nods, “Gotcha.”

“Bone dry.”

“No worries.”

We relax, start talking about the shift, the scene in Newcastle and whether our current employer is actually going to do anything or just keep running the business into the ground. Usual hospitality bitching mixed with an in depth analysis of whether this bar we are in is actually cool. It officially is.

Drinks arrive, everyone’s got something good but in front of me a coupe full of dark red, opaque liquid is placed. I taste it; it’s earthy, sour, unmistakably beetroot and whiskey are involved. It’s seriously cool but this isn’t a dry cocktail.

Look I know we all want to be creative behind the stick, we all want to put our best foot forward and stand out in some way but a well mixed drink is more than just drinkable alcohol. It’s supposed to be the art of subtlety tuning alcohol to match the palate of your customer. Sometimes that’s hiding the alcohol, sometimes it’s accentuating the alcohol, most of the time it’s sweetening it but sometimes it’s understanding the basics of a freaking palate and that if someone asks for dry then it should be dry and not just a less-sweet cocktail.

Dry Cocktails
Sours are not dry cocktails. It wasn’t bad it just was so far from what I asked for. I offered it up to the table for everyone else to sip and try while I made my way to the bar to ask for something dry.

I won’t go into the response, the bartender wasn’t great about being asked to make something else. After asking if I wanted it stiff or shaken (dry, Jesus, stir the damn thing) an old-fashioned with rum and rye and no small dose of sugar and bitters is what I get. I sip it and offer it to the bar back running glasses through the washer who I know is about to clock off and end up guiding the guy through

Then it hit me, maybe it’s not the poor guy’s fault, maybe we as mixing maestro’s don’t actually consider the whole palate in our industry. Try to name a famous dry cocktail other than the Martini…

We don’t make enough of them, nor write about them. With a world that’s slowly waking up to the fact that excess sugar is probably one of the worst things we put in our diet it’s something we all should probably take a look at.

Name a famous dry cocktail other than the Martini…

Not just making stevia syrup but actually remembering there’s an entire section of the human sensory experience that enjoys things like dry wines, dry sherries, dry cider, crisp pilsners, dry lambics, gin with soda not tonic and neat spirits. Aperitifs are supposed to avoid sugar so as to not fatigue the tastebuds but swanky restaurants seem to think an old fashioned or a hurricane is good enough.

sugar free cocktails


With that in mind I announce the

Dry Cocktails Challenge for Mixology Monday 109.

Your mission is to create an awesome dry cocktail that excites, entices and above all refreshes.


The requirements:


A maximum 10% of the entire beverage can be as sweetener such as liqueur, sugar, syrups (including orgeat and honey you sneaky buggers) or juice.

A further 10% is allowed for sweet vermouth and other sweet fortified wines (so 20% all up if no other sweeteners are involved).

Your sweetened spirits and flavoured spirits (including sipping rums, spiced rums and honey whiskies) all count as a sweetener so once again no more than 10% of the drink.


Here’s how to participate:

  • Create an awesome dry drink within the above guidelines
  • Create a post either on your own blog, eGullet’s Spirits and Cocktails forum or on Instagram
  • Include the MxMo logo in your blog post plus links back to Mixology Monday and this post on The Booze Baron (if entering via instagram just tag @realboozebaron and use the #MXMO #MixologyMonday hashtags)
  • Notify us by adding a link to your post in the comments below or emailing with the word “MxMo” in the subject line before 8 PM Monday the 23rd of May
  • Mixology Monday


That gives you enough time to google fino and amontillado and get yourself some citrus bitters… that’s all the tips I’m giving 😉 cannot wait to see what you all come up with!

Dry Cocktails




Bar owner, coffee roaster, mixologist of the molecular and enthusiast of all things grape, grain, sugar, honey and yeast related.