The 2 Decorative Ways To Layer A Striped Cocktail

As the old saying goes, you drink with your eyes first. Presentation is the cornerstone of a well-made cocktail — obviously, it has to taste good, but it has to look good, too. Layering cocktails is a great way to make them pop, but if you don't know what you're doing, keeping the different layers separate can be challenging. There are essentially two different ways to layer a cocktail: You can use a float or a sinker.

A float goes on top of the previous layer. So if you're making a pousse cafe, you have your bottom layer of Kahlua and you want to add a layer of Baileys on top of it, so you will float the Baileys. To keep the layers from mixing, take a spoon and hold it over the glass very close to the Kahlua. Now, pour the Baileys onto the spoon. The spoon is going to break the fall of the Baileys, keeping it from pushing down into the Kahlua and, because it has a lighter density, it will float on top. 

A sinker is intended to sink below what is already in the glass. In a Tequila Sunrise, you start by adding tequila and orange juice. Then you will sink the grenadine. If there is ice in the glass, you can use that to break the grenadine's fall, or if you have a spoon, you can pour the grenadine over the spoon's back to create a lovely swirl.

Helpful tips for perfect layers

The weight of your liquids matters when making layered cocktails. As a general rule of thumb, the higher the sugar content, the higher the density. If you are making a drink and you don't know which ingredient is denser, try to determine which has more sugar. You will float the ingredient with less sugar on top. If you want to lower the density of an ingredient, add pure alcohol or some other base spirit to it. If you want to increase the density, add simple syrup.

If you don't have a bar spoon but you want to add a float, don't worry — there is a way. Simply tilt the glass and gently pour the float down the side of the glass. You want to keep the float moving as slowly as possible so that it doesn't break down into the layer below, so a delicate touch is key.

If your drinks still aren't layering right, there are some mistakes to avoid. When you pour the first layer, make sure you aren't getting any on the side of the glass. If you are having trouble when floating, try the other side of the spoon. The back side is more popular, but it's up to you to decide what works. Make sure that the spoon is very close but not touching the previous layer.