|Bartending Basics: How To Make Cocktails
"I never go jogging, it makes me spill my Martini"? -- George Burns
Practice makes perfect, and the secret is
to practice the liquor pour. Attach bottle pourers to your liter and fifth bottles, most 1.75 liter bottles already feature built-in
By using a count while pouring you can achieve accurate and consistent proportions. This method is entertaining and effective, and all you have to do is pour full-force through a bottle pourer and count out-loud: "one racy horsey", "two racy horsey", "three racy horsey" etc. Obviously, stop pouring when you've reached the desired number.
Your guests will soon become familiar with your unique and fun pour. Now, all you need to know, when taking drink orders, is how many racy horsies they would like in their cocktail.
One "racy horsey" is about 3/4 of an ounce, which is 1/2 a jigger. Therefore two "racy horsies" is a standard jigger of 1 1/2 ounces.
Here is a guide on how to
measure for different types of pours using double old-fashioned glasses filled with ice:
can separate cocktails into five groups:
- Light pour – glass ¼ full of liquor or 1 "racy-horsey"
- Average pour – glass 1/3 to ½ full of liquor or 2 "racy-horsies"
- Heavy pour - glass ½ or more full of liquor or 3+ "racy-horsies"
Neat, Rocks & With Water
- Neat, Rocks & With Water
- 2 Part Cocktails
- 3 Part Cocktails
- 4+ Part Cocktails
- Martinis & "Up" Drinks
"Neat" or "straight" refers to a liquor pour
without ice and served at room temperature. Note: "Straight" is not the same as "straight up" or "up", which is a drink served chilled in a martini glass without ice.
"Rocks" refers to ice.
For any liquor on the rocks, fill the glass half full with ice and add
liquor to cover.
"With water" typically refers to a liquor with
water, on the rocks. Fill the glass half full with ice and add liquor
to cover, then top off with about half as much water as liquor to about
3/4 full. Add a couple more cubes of ice. If ordered with a splash of
water, just add a very small amount of water after the liquor and no
2 Part Drinks
Bourbon & Ginger, Gin & Tonic, Rum & Coke, Cape Cod, and Screwdriver, to name a few 2-part
drinks, which typically consist of 1 liquor and 1 mixer.
To mix a 2 part
drink, fill a glass with ice and use the chart above to determine the amount of liquor for light, medium
and heavy drinkers. Fill the remainder of the glass with the mixer.
3 Part Drinks
Margarita, Washington Apple, Madras, and Harvey Wallbanger are a few popular 3 part drinks. 3 part drinks are easy to master once you learn the proportion of the ingredients from a recipe or someone familiar with the cocktail.
When referring to drink recipes,
translate them into parts. For example:
|1.5 oz Tequila|
1/2 oz Triple Sec
1 oz Lime Juice
|3 parts Tequila|
1 part Triple Sec
2 parts Lime Juice
As you see you have 6 total parts to fill one glass. Therefore, fill half the glass with
Tequila (3 parts), 1/3 of the other half of the glass with Triple Sec (1 part) and the remainder of the glass with lime juice (2 parts). By mixing drinks by parts, the size of the glass and a jigger are irrelevant.
Alternatively, if you are pouring into a shaker use 1 count for each part. In other words, 1 racy horsey, 2 racy horsey, 3 racy horsey for the Tequila's 3 parts, 1 racy horsey for Triple Sec and 2 racy horsies for lime juice. You may end up with a little more or less than needed to fill your glass, but the proportions (and taste) will be right on.
This is the recipe for a Margarita, which you can now adjust to suit your taste. Add Triple Sec to sweeten or lime juice to make it more tart.
4+ Part Drinks
Goombay Smash, Long Island Ice Tea, Mai Tai, and Planter's Punch are 4+ part cocktails, which all require a recipe and practice. It is best to mix these drinks beforehand.
Alternatively, make a base beforehand, especially if the recipe calls for a carbonated ingredient. A base would only require one or two additional ingredients when making individual cocktails.
Martinis & "Up" Drinks
Martini, Manhattan, Cosmopolitan, and Lemon drop are a few popular "up" drinks. "Up" cocktails are drinks chilled with ice then strained and served in a martini glass. They may be chilled by stirring in a pitcher (recommended) or shaken in a shaker.
Ice should fill the
pitcher to the level of alcohol, which will depend upon the number of cocktails you are making. However, the ice should go in first, so fill the pitcher halfway with ice to start out. If you are using a shaker, fill about 3/4 full of ice.
Next add the ingredients for the number of drinks you are making in this batch.
vodka martinis require a pour of 6 “racy-horsies” per standard-size martini glass. Plus, a splash of
The drier the
martini requested the less vermouth you use. For an extra dry martini,
pour vermouth over the ice then strain out; the vermouth that sticks to
the ice and sides of the pitcher is all that is needed.
Once the ingredients are in your pitcher or shaker, stir or shake for 30 seconds. Pour into a martini glass, using a strainer. Garnish and serve.
See Cocktail Recipes for mixing specific cocktails.
1 part presentation
Always serve cocktails in glass, except use plastic that looks like glass when poolside. The double old-fashioned
glass is acceptable for most cocktails, except use martini glasses for "Up" drinks and champagne glasses for champagne cocktails.
It is recommended that you use
margarita glasses for margaritas, but not required. When serving wine or frozen drinks, wine glasses should be used for
both. And, cordial and shot glasses may be used interchangeably for shots and cordials.
Be conscious of the drink taste, color and party theme,
then accessorize appropriately. Garnishes should complement the taste
and color of the drink. Use theme-related or frilly toothpicks with your garnish.
For example, for beach and island themed parties
and all tropical drinks, add a cocktail umbrella along with a pineapple or orange slice & maraschino cherry garnish skewered with a shell-topped toothpick.
Add theme or color
appropriate swizzle sticks and straws, if available.
Make sure the
swizzle stick or straw is the appropriate height for the glass,
standard-size straws are only appropriate for highball-height glasses.
Short straws and swizzle sticks are also available.
Place a theme
or color-coordinated cocktail napkin down in
front of your guest, then place the cocktail squarely in the center.
Now you are ready to stir it up with some of these Cocktail Recipes.