Chemistry to Enhance Classic Cocktails

There's more to making a cocktail than meets the ice. Mixing drinks with a little chemistry can make a big difference in their taste.

So, do you put in the spirits or mix first? Can the kind of ice you use make a difference? Should the drink be shaken or stirred?

Mixologist and wine and spirits connoisseur Tim Laird, chief entertaining officer of wine and spirits maker and marketer Brown-Forman, shared his secrets on "The Early Show" Wednesday of making chemistry happen behind the bar.

For great cocktails, Laird recommends always using fresh ingredients for the best taste. Also, he said you should try to strike a balance between sweet and savory using the rule of thumb that for every 1.5 ounces of a spirit and 3/4 ounces of a sour or savory ingredient, use one ounce of sweet ingredients.

Laird also recommends using large cubes of ice, shaking drinks well and using a garnish to finish off the drink's look.

Density and Carbonation -- Jack and Ginger

A perfect example of density and specific gravity of liquids.

Do you pour in the spirits or mix first?

THE SPIRITS. Liquor has lower density. Adding the mix over alcohol causes it to sink to the bottom and allows the drink to almost mix itself. Some bartenders put the mix in first. The spirits stay on top giving the illusion of more liquor, but they can get away with using less. Laird calls this the "Resort Scam" because they often pour that way to save on liquor costs.

1.5 oz Jack Daniel's
3 oz Ginger ale

Pour Jack Daniel's over ice then add the ginger ale. Garnish with pickled ginger

Ice -- Classic Whiskey Sour

The egg white was a predominant ingredient in vintage cocktails and when shaken it coagulates the proteins to create a nice collar of foam and fizzes on top of the drink.

For the ice, you always want to use the coldest, most solid ice available. Otherwise, you will dilute your cocktail when shaking or stirring.

2 oz Canadian Mist
3/4 oz Fresh lemon juice
1 oz simple syrup
1 teaspoon egg white

Shake and stain into rocks glass with ice
Garnish with an orange slice

All Five Senses -- Authentic Margarita
This drink excites all five senses of the tongue: sweet, sour, bitter, salty and umami.

2 oz Herradura Reposado
1 oz Agave nectar
1 oz fresh lime juice

Shake and strain into rocks glass with crushed ice

Shaken vs. Stirred -- The Classic Manhattan
The ingredient bitters was created by a scientist, originally used for medicinal purposes to settle the stomach and internal gas problems. It has now made its way into classic cocktails like the Manhattan.

As for shaking and stirring, every mixologist/bartender has their own preferred method. Tim prefers to shake. We ran a test a few years ago with our sensory panel of 100 panelists where we made a Manhattan shaken and a Manhattan stirred with the objective of the panelists to tell the difference. The results were overwhelmingly on the side of them not being able to tell the difference at all.

2 oz Woodford Reserve
3/4 oz Chambord
Dash of bitters

Shake and strain into martini glass and garnish with a cherry