Creating The Perfect Cocktail

Adam Arlen

, Happy Hour

I drink a lot of wine. That should not surprise anyone that knows me personally. Occasionally, after a hard day’s work, I just want to kick back with a cocktail, instead of a bottle of wine. A great cocktail is balanced, just like that great bottle of wine. Alcohol, sweetness, bitterness, and sourness all play well together to add layers to the drink.


Ditch the store-bought mixes

Nothing screams hangover more than store bought mixes. These are loaded with sugar, which cause you to drink more, leading to a hangover. If you would like to make great cocktails at home, invest in a citrus juicer. You can pick up a commercial bar juicer for around $40.


Start with quality ingredients


Don’t even think to start a cocktail with anything on the bottom shelf at the liquor store. If you are going to the trouble of squeezing fresh juices, start with quality base spirits. Tito’s and Lunazul are good base vodka and tequila for me. Both are around $20 and are well made.


A word on vermouth

Vermouth is an aromatized wine. It will lose its aromatic intensity over time and eventually degrade to the point of dumping it down the drain. While it does not need to be cellared like wine before it is opened, you will need to keep it refrigerated after it is.




Salt and pepper

Cocktail bitters are the seasoning behind the bar. A few dashes in a drink can completely transform the flavor profile. Adding just a touch of bitterness, provides another element for you to experience.

Here is my recipe for the Perfect Margarita. Those of you at the Peninsula Club have already enjoyed this cocktail many times over. I have had many requests for this recipe, so here it is for all the world to see!



Perfect Margarita



What you will need:

1.5oz Lunazul Reposado Tequila

3/4oz Cointreau

1oz Fresh lime juice

3/4oz agave nectar

1 orange wedge

2 dashes 18-21 Japanese chili lime bitters





How to make it

Take your orange wedge around the rim of a rocks glass to wet it and drop into a plate of salt. Fill the rocks glass with ice and set aside. Measure all ingredients and pour into an empty pint glass. Squeeze the orange wedge into the pint glass, then discard. Put ice in your shaker, add all your ingredients from the pint glass and give it a good shake. Strain into prepared glass and garnish with fresh lime zest.



Special thanks to Genevieve Bourgeois of the AC Hotel for teaching me so much about cocktails!




Adam Arlen, Sommelier


Adam Arlen: “I am passionate about wine because it is history in a bottle.” He is the sommelier for The Peninsula Club in Cornelius, NC. Originally from Allentown, PA, he believes you should always branch out and find new things. His goal is to never stop learning and continuing to grow both personally and professionally. A fun fact about him: “I was a nuclear engineer on a submarine in a previous life.”





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