Cocktail Recipes

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Beer does not age well; the quality will diminish after six months in the bottle (three months in a can), and so it is best consumed as fresh as possible, soon after it is purchased. Affected by light and fluctuating temperatures, beer should be stored in a cool, dark place, ideally in the refrigerator.Most beer is served in a glass beer mug, pilsner glass, or stein, ideally a frosty glass straight from the freezer. When poured into the center of the glass, it produces a frothy head, which helps to release the bouquet of the beer.


Beyond Cognac and Armagnac, which are distilled from the fermented juice of grapes, the quintessential definition of brandy becomes broadly defined to encompass not only grape brandies but brandies distilled from other fruits as well. Generally speaking, brandies made from grapes and apples (such as Calvados) are aged in wooden casks, but other fruit brandies, such as the characteristically clear, colorless eaux-de-vie, typically are not. There is often confusion surrounding what makes a brandy; cachaca, for example, could, in broader terms, be considered a cane sugar brandy as well as a rum. Other brandy types include grappa, marc, kirsch, and other fruit eaux-de-vie. Fruit brandy has thus become a generic term used to describe any spirit distilled from a specific fruit, and it stretches even further to mean a neutral brandy spirit base that is flavored with fruit and sweetened. Although technically liqueurs, these are also called brandies, such as apricot or peach brandy.

Champagne & Sparkling Wines

Champagne cocktails are, by their very bubbly nature, refreshing drinks, fizzy and energizing. Typically low in alcohol content, some are slightly sweet, some are tart, and many are made with fresh juices. Because of champagne's delicate flavor, the best champagne cocktails are made predominantly with champagne, accentuated and enhanced with minimal amounts of other ingredients. And save your expensive champagne for sipping and appreciating; a moderate to inexpensively priced good, dry sparkling wine or champagne is more appropriate for mixed drinks.When making champagne (or sparkling wine) cocktails, all other ingredients should precede the champagne. Pour the champagne in very slowly, as the last ingredient added. Otherwise, it will quickly overflow. The champagne's effervescence will naturally blend the ingredients together.


The aromatic, delicate, and unobtrusive characteristics of gin make it the quintessential spirit for mixed drinks, in concordance with just about any ingredient, from juices to liqueurs to vermouth. When it comes to multi-ingredient mixed drinks, using a moderate or cheaper gin such as Gordon's or Seagram's is perfectly appropriate.

Hot Drinks

Hot drinks have been an essential part of the social dynamic for centuries, from the wassail gatherings at harvesttime in thirteenth-century England to the toddies popularized by the British in the eighteenth century. By the nineteenth century, in many northern countries as well as the American colonies, pubs and taverns were still the prime meeting place, social hub, and village oasis to ward against chilly nights, serving up hot "flips" or rich Tom and Jerrys.


The term "liqueur" encompasses a wide spectrum of spirits (such as brandy, Cognac, gin, and rum) that have been flavored, infused, or distilled with an even wider roster of botanicals (ranging from anise seed, bitter orange peels, and violets to fruits and nuts) and then usually sweetened with a sugar syrup. With a seemingly endless number of combinations, hundreds of liqueurs are available, differing not only in color and flavor, but in sweetness, dryness, and bitterness as well as alcohol content.


The Martini has endured many transmutations, from rinsing the glass with a variety of liqueurs or juices, such as Cointreau or Pernod, port or sake, to the Cold War Vodka Martini trend made fashionable by James Bond and Smirnoff. A true Martini, whether it's shaken or stirred, has only two liquid ingredients-gin and dry vermouth-anything more, or less (such as the straight gin cocktails Churchill enjoyed as he bowed toward France in lieu of the vermouth), no matter the posturing, is not a classic Martini.


Punches can be an elegant centerpiece to an occasion. Beautiful, large glass bowls, or even colorful glazed pottery bowls, are ideal for showing off the colorful liquid and floating fruit. For pitcher drinks, there is nothing more visually inviting than a glass pitcher filled with Sangria. Also consider replacing those cheap glass punch cups with more elegant glassware, such as small wine glasses. Your guests will more than likely be drinking two or more servings, at about 6 ounces each, so be sure to plan for the right amount, and have a backup pitcher and backup ice, if need be, to refill the bowl with.


The lovely sweetness inherent in rum comes from sugarcane, boiled down to a rich molasses, which is then fermented and distilled. Produced wherever there is sugarcane, rum is primarily from the world's tropical regions, with a large percentage made in Puerto Rico. By law, rum must be distilled from the fermented juice of the sugarcane, sugarcane syrup, and sugarcane molasses, but it can vary in color, weight, and sweetness. Full-bodied rums, such as Jamaican rum, involve longer and more elaborate fermentation and double-distillation processes, producing darker, sweeter rums. In the Caribbean, each island has its own distinctly different and perfected style of rum, from the molasses-flavored dark rums of Haiti, Jamaica, and Martinique to the silver, white, and lighter rums of Trinidad, Cuba, Puerto Rico, and the Virgin Islands, which retain very little molasses taste and tend to be drier. The following guide offers insight into the various types of rum available.


Lately sake has become the new darling of the creative cocktail bar scene. With a multitude of possibilities, from variations on classics such as the Sake Lemon Drop or Sake Cosmo to completely different concoctions, this may just be the tip of the creative iceberg. Innovative infusions, instilling botanical flavors such as grapefruit, lemon, black raspberry, or Asian pear into the sake, are enjoyed as shots. Sake's low alcohol content offers a nice perk when one is looking for a less potent cocktail, and it typically has no congeners, the trace elements that promote hangovers in other alcohol.As a rule, a premium sake may be well suited for a Saketini, but for most mixed sake drinks with many different flavors at play, an inexpensive to moderately priced sake will do just fine. Most of the domestic filtered brands, such as Ozeki or Hakusan, are best suited for the drier cocktails, and a favorite choice for the more fruity concoctions is nigori-style sake, which is fruity, sweet, and unfiltered.


This particular genre of drinks has quite the rowdy reputation as being a quick, cut-to-the-chase approach to cocktails. Some are streamlined and purposely expedient-potent shooters of liquid dynamite given names that are, shall we say, a bit lacking in refinement. Others have perfectly balanced ingredients and are more suitable for sipping (not that it is mandatory, however), such as the elegantly layered pousse-cafe-style shooters. Ironically, the evolution of the shooter has led to spirits suspended in gelatin. Perfectly compact and unspillable, these potent, brightly colored cubes have become the popular new wave in fun shooters. Whatever your preference, these drinks will give you an excuse to bring out all those kitschy shot glasses collected from places far and wide.


The key to the best Margarita is to adhere to the basic recipe, using freshly squeezed lime juice combined with 100 percent agave tequila and a premium orange liqueur. The classic approach involves pouring the shaken mixture into a margarita glass with a salted rim, but muddling the ingredients in the bottom of an old-fashioned glass with wedges of fresh lime and serving it on the rocks is equally acceptable. A Margarita made with Rose's lime juice or a bottled margarita mix is not recommended. A desirable alternative to freshly squeezed lime juice is frozen limeade, which makes a great shortcut, with the added bonus of sweetness. The simplicity of the Margarita makes it an ideal vehicle for frozen and blended variations made with fresh fruits.

The Nonalcoholic

No longer are non-drinking guests faced with the dismal choice of soda pop or water, tea, or coffee; instead, they are offered an elegant and aromatic nonalcoholic cocktail as urbane and enjoyable as any other, by a thoughtful and discerning host. The new wave in creative mixology has not only influenced the spirit-based genre but also inspired a wide selection of alcohol-free elixirs made with fresh juices, exotic and familiar, infused with flavorful botanicals and inventive ingredients such as sorbets and syrups. Along with the classic spicy tomato drinks and rich chocolate concoctions, this selection offers everything from energizing frappes, shaken cocktails, and refreshing coolers to creamy smoothies and minty highballs, all guaranteed to have even those imbibing the high-octane drinks requesting one of these fabulous libations instead.


VODKA - certainly characterizes this clean and most neutral of all spirits. As opposed to other clear spirits, such as akvavit and gin (clean base spirits that are redistilled with caraway and juniper, respectively), vodka's main objective is to have as clean a spirit as possible, without any discernible flavor or aroma.
Although vodka is synonymous with the chilly northeastern European cultures of Scandinavia, Russia and Poland, all of which vie for the credit of inventing it, they were more accurately preceded by the Italians, who brought the art of distillation to the area. These cultures can, however, take credit for mastering the art of distilling it to perfection, and they have been consuming it like-well-water, ever since, as a bracer not only against the northern winters but also through a frequently oppressive existence.


With a few exceptions, the best whiskeys for mixed drinks are the blended whiskeys. Good-quality blends such as Johnny Walker Red Label, Famous Grouse, Dewar's, and White Horse, as well as Irish whiskeys and Canadian whiskies, such as Canadian Club, are suitable to use with mixers, such as citrus juices, syrups, or grenadine. Also fine for mixed drinks are the distinctively strong straight whiskeys such as rye and Tennessee whiskey.Except for a few cocktails that are immensely improved upon with premium bourbons and scotches, using a refined single-malt scotch or high-end small-batch bourbon in a mixed drink is absolutely pointless, not to mention sacrilegious. For example, it is perfectly appropriate to enjoy a good-quality blended scotch, such as Johnny Walker Gold, over ice with a splash of club soda, or in a Manhattan, and a moderately priced small-batch bourbon is the perfect choice for a Mint Julep or Sazerac - but save your good single-malt scotches, such as Bowmore 17, for sipping neat.


Wines differ in a variety of many different ways, from their color and complex aromas to their texture, strength, structure, and body. There are ways to navigate wine by using the smell, taste, and visual cues to appreciate the complex flavors.
Be sure to have the white wine and champagne chilling in the refrigerator a few hours before serving. Bar should have more than two type of different wine glasses to accommodate both white and red wine and, of course, if you'll be serving champagne, chilled champagne flutes.