There are a few basic rules of bartending that can take your drink from yum to yahoo. These tricks of the trade have been learned from over fifteen years bartending experience, and are easy for even the novice mixologist.

But first, let’s explore some real basics of cocktails.

Most “drinks” are made with three basic components: liquor, a mixer, and ice. Anything without a mixer is a shot (but a classier way to ask for this is either “neat” (no ice) or “on the rocks” (with ice).

The three component type of drinks are the “staples” of bars worldwide: rum and coke, whiskey and seven, gin and tonic, vodka and orange.

The three component drink is typically made by a). adding ice to the glass b). pouring in a shot and a half of liquor c). adding the mixer to the remaining space in the glass.

The most common mistake with these type of drinks is going overboard on the liquor and only having enough room for a splash of mixer. This is a favored method of dive bars, but impossible to do in those establishments (like UK pubs) that have liquor stored in measuring holders.

A double will be served in a bigger glass to allow a better ratio of mixer to liquor. If you want more mixer than liquor, a lot of folks will order their classic cocktail “tall”.

Most remember the Bond classic line “Shaken, not stirred.” This one can befuddle even a barfly. What’s the difference?

Drinks that are shaken usually have an additional component: either a complementary shot or another ingredient like sugar. Drinks may also be shaken when they are served strained as a way to “ice” the liquid.

A martini has both these requirements. It is usually accompanied by sweet or dry vermouth (thus the dry or sweet martini addition when ordering) or can be served “dirty” (juice from the martini olives). Gin and vodka martinis are also best served very cold.

Some types of gin or vodka, especially top shelf can “bruise” when being shaken and so some prefer to have the mixture gently stirred with a cocktail spoon.

Drinks that are strained (or served without ice) are commonly served “up” or in a martini glass.


1. A good drink is not a strong drink. Whether you are making a gin and tonic or a cosmopolitan a heavy handed pour can quickly ruin a quality beverage. If you don’t have a jigger or a shot glass to measure by, a good rule of thumb is that your “main” liquor component should usually be a three second count. If you are working sans pour spout, two healthy splashes ought to do the trick.

2. Ice should be your main ingredient. Whether giving your glass a quick ice bath, or filling up your Collins glass to the rim, ice is a critical ingredient to most cocktails. With most liquors, it helps to release aromas without overpowering your senses. It can also cool the peppery shock (think tequila). You can dress up a cocktail with different styles of ice cubes, but in general your glass or shaker should always have more ice than liquid. For the perfect drink served sans ice, fill up the martini glass while you are mixing (and be sure to have lots of ice in your mixing container). Toss out the ice, strain and voila! A nicely chilled drink.

3. If you are mixing with fresh squeezed juice, don’t forget the sugar! Muddling a couple of cubes with lemon or lime will take the tartness down. Why do you think soda and liquor tastes so good? Sugar!


  1. List of cocktails
  2. The Asian Diet
  3. Cocktail Recipes | Liquor.com

Image Credit

comment closed