One of the things that I like about cocktails is dissecting how the different ingredients come together and interact. To do this you have to be able to discern the various flavors. This is not, however, always possible. Take for instance the Long Island Iced Tea. Though recipes differ, the Long Island usually has 8 ingredients. I at least cannot differentiate each of the ingredients. A couple stand out but for the most part it does not taste like eight ingredients, it taste like a Long Island Iced Tea.
This raises the question of the value a drink where the combination is so muddled to the point where some or all of the ingredients no longer stand out. As mentioned above, I like to see their interactions. On the other hand, if something taste good (and I'm not saying the Long Island does) its flavor should be able to stand on its own - regardless of its components. This is the case with a drink that I recently made, the Hotel Haute-Svoie.
2 ounces of rhy
1 ounce of elderflower liqueur
1/2 ounce of dry vermouth
1 teaspoon of absinthe
1 dash of angostura bitters
1 dash of orange bitters
Stir ingredients and pour into a chilled cocktail glass.
As mentioned above, the ingredients really meshed. I could taste the rhy initially and very faintly in the swallow. The absinthe primarily showed in the swallow and the aftertaste. I couldn't pull out the vermouth or bitters at all. Most surprisingly, I could hardly, if at all, taste the St. Germain. I was worried that it would overwhelm the drink, both in flavor and sweetness, but this simply was not the case. The drink came off pretty balanced and very fragrant with the absinthe and the elderflower giving it a very distinct nose. The bitters, vermouth, and rhy all balanced it out. The overall flavor is hard to describe without deconstructing, but it worked, and in the end I think that's what matters. This is a cocktail that I'll no doubt make again.