A cocktail is always a mixed drink. Originally a mixture of distilled spirits, sugar, water, and bitters, the word has gradually come to mean almost any mixed drink containing alcohol. A cocktail today usually contains one or more types of liquor and flavourings and one or more liqueurs, fruit juices, sugar, honey, water, ice,  soda, milk, cream, herbs, bitters, etc. These are all shaken with cracked ice in a stainless steel mixer and strained into a pre-chilled  glass, usually triangular in profile shape, and served with an olive (stuffed or pitted), Maraschino, cherry, or silverskin onion on a stick, and sometimes with a slice of lime or lemon split and slipped onto the rim, or with other ‘salad’ as decoration.

Cocktails are made with brandy, whisky, rum, gin and especially vodka. Many cocktails traditionally made with gin, such as the gimlet, or the martini, or Collins are now made with vodka.


There are seven (or eight) steps to create a cocktail.


1) Glass - hot drink (toddy), hurricane, long drink (Collins), shooter, short drink (shot), snifter (brandy), tall wine glass, shot glass, highball glass, Old Fashioned glass, Collins glass, martini (cocktail) glass, Margarita glass, pilsner glass, Irish Coffee glass,  pousse-cafe glass,  punch cup, cordial glass, white wine glass, red wine glass, sherry glass, champagne flute,  champagne saucer glass, liqueur glass, parfait glass, sour glass, cocktail goblet.


2) Method - blend with crushed ice, blend without ice, build (pour) and stir, layer in order, muddle, shake with ice, shake with ice and strain over ice, shake without ice, stir with ice.


3) Ice - Start by boiling pure, preferably filtered, water (you can use a Brita filter or something similar) and slowly freeze it in bigger blocks. To keep it cold in the glass, the cube should be well frozen all the way through without any cavities. You keep it dry simply by keeping it cold..


4) Base spirit - gin, vodka, rum, tequila, whisky, cognac.


5) Flavour agent - liqueur, bitters, syrup, vermouth, puree, sloe gin, triple sec (cointreau).


6) Filler - fruit juice, tea, beer, coffee, cider, cola, sauce, cream, egg white, milk, coconut milk, lemonade, lemon curd, marzipan, sparkling wine, yoghurt.


7) Garnish - Berries, Citrus fruits, Nuts & Beans, Herbs & Spices, Fruits, Vegetables.


8) Optional - foams, mists and gels.


Layered cocktails are made by carefully pouring spirits, liqueurs etc, one on top of another into a glass, so that they do not mix but lie in layers, often producing a colourful, striped effect. The reason for the layers is the density of each different ingredient. Like mixing oil and water, they will naturally separate. If you slowly pour each layer, you won't need to wait for separation. If this shot doesn't turn out the first time around, try again but pour slowly and carefully.


Flaming cocktails are cocktails which are set alight with a naked flame before consumption.


Here's How:

Warm your glass before you begin.

Prepare your cocktail.

Pour a bit of your highest proof alcohol into a spoon.

Ignite using a long kitchen match.

Carefully pour flaming liquid into cocktail.

Serve immediately.

Extinguish before drinking.



Use extreme caution.

For a fabulous sparkle effect, carefully twist an orange rind over the flame.

Never drink while flame is still lit.


A highball is the name for a family of  mixed drinks that are composed of an alcoholic base spirit and a larger proportion of a non-alcoholic mixer. A highball is typically served in large straight-sided glass, for example, a highball glass or a Collins glass, with ice. The proportions of some highballs may be altered—made with little or no mixer—and served as a shooter. A shooter (or shot) is a one- to four-ounce alcoholic beverage. It may consist of one type of alcohol or a cocktail of different alcohols, often mixed with other beverages. Shooters can be shaken, stirred, blended, layered, or simply poured. Shot glasses or sherry glasses are the usual drinkware from which shooters are served. A shooter is most commonly served at a bar. Shooters are often drunk quickly and with groups of people while celebrating.


Molecular Mixology

Combining chemistry and cocktails may sound dangerous. However, mixologists are using scientific principles to manipulate the flavour and texture of their creations. Known as molecular mixology, this new style of cocktail-making includes things like powdered rum and coke, martini popsicles, alcoholic cotton candy (ie candy floss) and whiskey hamburgers.


Simpler concoctions include upscale Jell-O shots and spherical “ice cubes” that are actually frozen cocktails. Inspired by the culinary discipline of molecular gastronomy, cocktail chemists have applied many tricks of the restaurant trade to the bar in the form of gelatins, foams and sorbets.


Molecular mixology merges science and booze to take advantage of chemical reactions. For example, liquid nitrogen, in addition to being cold enough to freeze alcohol, also intensifies it upon melting. An expert mixologist could make a specialty shot that appeared to be served in an edible balloon rather than a glass, thanks to the chemical properties of sodium alginate and calcium lactate.


Despite the growing popularity of molecular cocktails, the time and expense involved in making them means it is difficult to find a bar that serves them. But many bartenders are incorporating some molecular mixology ideas to spice up their martini repertoire or add flair to traditional cocktail offerings.

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