5@5 - Mixologist Mattias Hägglund
August 5th, 2010
05:00 PM ET
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5@5 is a daily, food-related list from chefs, writers, political pundits, musicians, actors, and all manner of opinionated people from around the globe.

Our managing editor already waxed poetic about the refreshing revelation that is tomatoes and booze. Now, it's Mattias Hägglund's turn to get in the mix and raise up those unsung heroes of the cocktail world. Perhaps we should mention he's the mixologist at elements in Princeton, New Jersey - so let's just say being behind the bar is kind of his thing.

Five Ingredients That You Might Not Think of Including in Cocktails, But Really Should: Mattias Hägglund

1. Beer
"The Shandy, Black Velvet and Michelada may be known throughout the country already, but there are real possibilities to serious cocktails given the broad scope of flavor found in beer. At elements we've used beer in multiple cocktails, from lagers to lambics to my favorite one yet: a cocktail called Orange Smoke using Johnny Walker Black, Seville orange, Grand Marnier, gomme syrup and a German smoke-ale from Schlenkerla."

2. Fresh hops
"As we are in the Garden State, there are quite a few options available locally if I want to get my hands on some fresh hops. They're delightfully pungent, and can bring flavors and aromatics of citrus, evergreen, spices and earth. Shaking a small amount into cocktails can work wonders, or you can steep them in a high proof spirit to make a tincture that will add a complex bite to whatever you wish. This past fall, a guest brought me a pound of fresh Cascade hops. With that I put together a batch of homemade hops bitters, and used it to help flavor my Maple Loch cocktail: a combination of Ardbeg 10 Year Islay Scotch, Nux Alpina Walnut Liqueur, fresh lemon, hops bitters, and (next up on the list) maple syrup."

3. Maple syrup
"There are many sweeteners aside from common white sugar that mixologists are using in cocktails these days. These vary from the classic demerara sugar to agave nectar to cane syrup. Often overlooked is maple syrup. Maple can lend a richness that other sweetening agents frequently can't, and it works well with a surprising array of base spirits. One that I'm particularly fond of is Blis bourbon-barrel aged maple syrup. In addition to the Maple Loch listed above, I also use it in my brunch cocktail, Maple Milk Punch. It's a variation on the New Orleans brunch classic cocktail, but based with rye rather than brandy. Rye, Blis maple syrup, Nux Alpina Walnut Liqueur, whole milk, Fee Brothers Old Fashion Bitters and a float of brandy come together very nicely on a lazy Sunday morning."

4. Peppercorns
"Ground pepper in a Bloody Mary is nothing new, but I like to use peppercorns in other ways. In cocktails, I especially like pink peppercorns. They still carry plenty of spice but they also have a very floral nature to them. These can be muddled into cocktails easily, or steeped into a simple syrup. I also try to keep a pink peppercorn sugar prepped at the restaurant at all times, as this can help take common favorites in a new direction. For a long while many guests' favorite on my cocktail list was called the Pink Queen. Sure the name's silly, but it was made with Snow Queen vodka, fresh pink grapefruit juice, a syrup of lemon thyme and pink peppercorn, and topped with dry sparkling rosé. The pink peppercorn sugar went on the rim as a garnish. Given the vodka and the final color, what other name could we have picked?"

5. Vinegar
"When looking for acid to balance out a cocktail the usual go-to is lemon, lime, or some other citrus. While those fruits are great options, another important thing to remember is that vinegar is also an option. Used in small doses it can provide a great tangy kick in the mouth that surprises and pleases as you imbibe. In addition to being a key component to our Bloody Mary mix, I've just added a cocktail onto the list we're calling the Red Velvet, using vodka, dry vermouth, local raspberry purée, citrus, raspberry vinegar and Benedictine. It's lively and refreshing, and tastes like summer."

Got a surprising secret ingredient for cocktails? Shake (or stir) things up in the comment section.

Is there someone you'd like to see in the hot seat? Let us know in the comments below and if we agree, we'll do our best to chase 'em down.

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Filed under: 5@5 • Sip • Spirits • Think

soundoff (33 Responses)
  1. Riley

    Mattais, have you ever tried using a vaporizer in your mixology endeavors? I've seen the Volcano used by Wylie Dufresne, Grant Achatz, and others. Do you use anything like that in your drinks? It is possible to infuse flavors into alcohol and certain other liquids (i've done it!) and i'm really interested in seeing that type of technique applied in restaurants in and around New Jersey.

    February 21, 2011 at 10:50 pm |
  2. Bonnie

    The bar I work in serves a wasabi ginger martini that everyone loves.....interesting combo

    August 6, 2010 at 12:47 pm |
  3. Barbara

    1/2 mug beer–one shot glass-add amaretta and splash of 101 rum –light with match pick up shot glass very carefully and drop into 1/2 mug of beer. Taste like Dr Pepper

    August 6, 2010 at 8:46 am |
    • imadome

      sounds like a flaming Dr.Pepper to me

      August 6, 2010 at 9:16 am |
  4. kazz

    just give it to me straight

    August 6, 2010 at 12:18 am |
  5. Jess

    If the alcohol you're drinking is so bad you have to mix it with fruit juice to make it taste better then you need to buy something better.

    Single malt scotch on the rocks, now there is a cocktail for you.

    August 6, 2010 at 12:17 am |
    • KDirty

      Single malt on the rocks? No way! I like my blended whiskey (or whisky, depending of couse) on the rocks, but I take my single malts neat.

      Also–for scotch fans everywhere (which I am), rethink Irish Whiskey. A lot of people think it's just Jameson out there, but there has been a rise in well-crafted single malt Irish whiskeys on the market. Redbreast, Michael Collins (the single malt, not the blend), Knappogue Castle (not a newcomer, admittedly). A lot of great stuff out there to try.

      August 6, 2010 at 10:29 am |
    • Jaz

      What's this? someone making fun of mixing stuff into liquor and then putting ICE in a SINGLE malt??? Someone needs a lesson in drinking!!!

      August 10, 2010 at 10:09 am |
  6. Andrea M

    I like to mix my vodka with vodka. Although really Redbull, tonic, or soda are my standbys.

    August 5, 2010 at 11:27 pm |
  7. cnnfanatic

    arugula....at a drink at new W NY Downtown...AMAZING!

    August 5, 2010 at 11:04 pm |
    • IImbibe

      There's a good variation on a Brooklyn cocktail that I tired that uses Arugula... oh yeah it's awesome!

      August 9, 2010 at 11:39 am |
  8. billy

    I like the buffalo negro. It has whiskey simple syrup a little bit of muddled basil and ready for this balsamic vinegar with just a splash of ginger ale. I swear its the best drink ever!!!

    August 5, 2010 at 8:44 pm |
  9. afb74

    I am bookmarking this article.

    August 5, 2010 at 8:32 pm |
  10. Randy

    A little cucumber, a little rosemary and gin...enjoy!

    August 5, 2010 at 8:17 pm |
  11. Baba Elf

    I'd long been hearing of hibiscus syrup as a nice additive to various things, but my mind being as it is I wondered how it would be in Vodka. Well, my neighbor recently planted a row of hibiscus flowers along our shared wrought Iron fence in the back yard, and every morning the many totally wilting flowers so as not to compete with new ones must be removed. As I remove them and dry them in the hot L.A. sun after a day or so I collect them totally dry - otherwise they'll mold - and when I have a 4 cups of dried flowers I make a syrup of them. Boil 2 cups of very pure - not tap - water and then add 1 cup of sugar and a teaspoon of powdered citric acid. Add the dried flowers and make sure they're covered by the liquid and simmer for one hour. Cool and strain well and REFRIGERATE or this goes moldy FAST! It's a great additive [a tablespoon or so] to a couple ounces of Vodka or Gin, a good squirt of lemon or even better lime juice and lots of ice topped off with a few ounces of seltzer and that is a very smooth drink.....

    August 5, 2010 at 8:04 pm |
    • Sam Meyer

      One tip on keeping syrups from going moldy is to put a little bit of vodka in them. Every time I make simple syrup (or grenadine, or any other kind of syrup), I'll put maybe a half-ounce of vodka in the bottle. and keep it in the fridge. Also, the more sugar you put in your syrup, the longer it'll last. I make rich simple syrup with a 2:1 sugar:water ratio (1 cup sugar to 1/2 cup water, put it in a saucepan, heat till dissolved, cool and bottle), and a bottle of this stuff with a splash of vodka added will keep in the fridge for at least six months.

      August 5, 2010 at 11:36 pm |
  12. sweetpea

    the watermelon martini is go green, morning, noon and night

    August 5, 2010 at 8:02 pm |
  13. steve

    my mother-in-law likes good tequila and squirt. i like bad tequila and squirt. but for good tequila i just like a squeeze of lime and more good tequila.

    August 5, 2010 at 7:56 pm |
  14. tlstevens

    iced japanese shochu with thinly sliced cucumbers stirred in is the local remedy for heat stroke.....drink enough, you will not feel the heat, or the on-coming stroke!

    August 5, 2010 at 7:47 pm |
  15. Cindy

    I love these tea infusions – they mix with everything:

    August 5, 2010 at 7:16 pm |
  16. Kat

    You say potato, I say vodka!

    August 5, 2010 at 7:02 pm |
  17. Tini

    Japanese pickled ginger in a Gin & Sake martini
    candied ginger with rye and soda

    August 5, 2010 at 6:52 pm |
  18. Don'tTryThisAtHomeI'mAProfessional

    10 year old Scotch mixed with all that foo? I'm voting him off the island.

    August 5, 2010 at 6:52 pm |
  19. F.U.R.I.M.2

    Vodka and Red Bull while watching Idiocracy made that one of the funniest movies...somehow...

    August 5, 2010 at 6:48 pm |
  20. IImbibe

    Thing is with beer in a cocktail... it's not like you have to use and enitre BEER I guess form a bottle, so you could use an ounce or two, and still have the beer!! WIN WIN... I like beer though and I like beer in my beer.. and not fruity Kriek stuff either.

    That said for me I just love herbs in cocktails and herb infused syrups with them also. I talk about it all the time in my drink blog. –> imbibehour.blogspot.com

    Peppercorns rock!

    ENjoy! & Drink up!

    August 5, 2010 at 6:41 pm |
    • Observer


      August 5, 2010 at 6:43 pm |
  21. Edgar

    I mix my Jim Beam with saliva.

    August 5, 2010 at 6:33 pm |
  22. amy

    I love jalapeno in my margaritas!

    August 5, 2010 at 6:25 pm |
  23. Jdizzle McHammerpants

    I like to mix my Vodka with Vodka. Shaken, not stirred, then place it in meh belly for some processing. Once that is complete, I wake up in the gutter.

    August 5, 2010 at 5:18 pm |
    • Jdizzle McHammerpants

      Nah, actually, we used to mix Vodka with gatorade. Pretty good. Just watch it, though, goes down pretty smooth/easy. Then, you might actually wake up in the gutter. Or on the roof.

      August 5, 2010 at 5:20 pm |
    • Mark

      sounds good - sometimes I like to mix my Bourbon with ice, when it's hot outside. It's nice and refreshing, and tastes like bourbon with a hint of bourbon.

      August 5, 2010 at 6:14 pm |
    • mrsmarvel

      I like my vodka with a label.

      August 5, 2010 at 6:48 pm |
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