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The 18 Drinks Every Bartender Should Know. Period.

December 20, 2019
|
Scott

We scoured the internet for the most common cocktails ordered in the U.S. But don’t let the word common fool you. There’s a reason these are the most popular cocktails. Because they’re all epic and classic. And you've likely already stocked your bar with the ingredients you'll need for them. They’re drinks that'll get you certified in bartending 101.

To make things as simple as possible, no recipe has more than 4 steps and we're not going to go into things like tannins in wine (something better left to a sommelier). And we included a few quick tips to make each cocktail sing, from suggested glassware to popular substitutions. No lengthy introductions, no history lessons, just cocktail recipes and tips. Everything is short, sweet, and to the point. So if you’re looking for drinks to know as a bartender, look no further ... or do look further to our seasonal guides for spring cocktails, summer cocktails, fall cocktails, and winter cocktails.

From old-school classics to modern-day favorites and everything in between, here are the 18 cocktails every bartenders should know how to make. It is a part of your solemn bartender responsibilities.

Popular Drinks Every Bartender Should Know

Boulevardier

Boulevardier Ingredients

  • 1.5 oz. rye or bourbon whiskey
  • 1 oz. Campari
  • 1 oz. sweet vermouth
  • 1 orange twist

How to Make a Boulevardier

  1. Add whiskey, Campari, and vermouth to shaker with ice, stir
  2. Strain into rocks glass with a few ice cubes in it
  3. Garnish with orange twist

Tips for Making a Boulevardier

  • Serve in a lowball glass for maximum class
  • Like the other famous cocktail with whiskey and vermouth, the Manhattan, a cocktail cherry can be used as a garnish for a sweeter, more playful version

Gin Fizz

Gin Fizz Ingredients

  • 1.75 oz. gin
  • 1 oz lemon juice
  • .75 oz. simple syrup
  • Club soda
  • 1 lemon wedge

How to Make a Gin Fizz

  1. Pour all ingredients in a shaker with ice cubes, shake
  2. Strain into an 8 oz. glass with no ice in it
  3. Top with club soda
  4. Garnish with lemon wedge

Tips for Making a Gin Fizz

  • The more fizz, the better. To maximize the froth, shake once without ice, then add the ice and shake again.
  • Add an egg white into the shaker for the traditional gin fizz
  • To make a Tom Collins, strain into a highball glass full of ice

Sazerac

Sazerac Ingredients

  • 1.5 oz. Cognac
  • .25 oz. absinthe
  • 3 dashes Peychaud’s bitters (here's a little primer about what bitters are made of and used for)
  • 1 teaspoon water
  • 1 sugar cube
  • 1 lemon peel

How to Make a Sazerac

  1. Rinse chilled old-fashioned glass with absinthe, set aside
  2. In mixing glass, muddle bitters, sugar cube, and water
  3. Add whiskey or Cognac to mixing glass, stir
  4. Strain into old-fashioned glass, garnish with lemon peel

Tips for Making a Sazerac

  • Add a combination of Angostura and Peychaud’s bitters for a more complex flavor profile
  • Substitute the Cognac with rye whiskey for a slightly spicier, drier cocktail

Aperol Spritz

Aperol Spritz Ingredients

  • 3 oz. Prosecco
  • 3 oz. Aperol
  • Club soda
  • 1 orange slice

How to Make a Aperol Spritz

  1. Add ice to rocks or old-fashioned glass
  2. Pour in Aperol, then Prosecco
  3. Top with club soda
  4. Garnish with orange slice

White Russian

White Russian Ingredients

  • .75 oz. coffee liqueur
  • 1.75 oz. vodka
  • 1 oz. cream

How to Make a White Russian

  1. Add ice to rocks or old-fashioned glass
  2. Add coffee liqueur and vodka
  3. Top off with cream
  4. Tell them "the dude" sent you

Common Drinks Every Bartender Should Know

Gimlet

Gimlet Ingredients

  • 2 oz. gin
  • 1 oz. lime juice
  • 1 lime wheel

How to Make a Gimlet

  1. Add gin and lime juice to shaker with ice cubes, shake
  2. Strain into chilled cocktail glass
  3. Garnish with lime wheel

Tips for Making a Gimlet

  • Use a lime cordial like Rose’s Sweetened Lime Juice instead of the fresh lime juice for sweeter drink
  • The gin can be switched out for vodka, creating the popular vodka gimlet

Moscow Mule

Moscow Mule Ingredients

  • 4 oz. ginger beer
  • 1.5 oz. vodka
  • 1 teaspoon lime juice
  • 1 lime slice

How to Make a Moscow Mule

  1. Combine ginger beer and vodka in a highball glass full of ice
  2. Add lime juice, stir
  3. Garnish with lime slice

Tips for Making a Moscow Mule

  • Choose a spicy, extra-gingery ginger beer to avoid the feeling of a vodka ginger ale
  • Serve the drink in a chilled copper mug

Mimosa

Mimosa Ingredients

  • 2.5 oz. Champagne or sparkling wine
  • 2.5 oz. orange juice
  • 1 orange slice

How to Make a Mimosa

  1. Pour Champagne in Champagne flute
  2. Add orange juice
  3. Garnish with orange slice

Tips for Making a Mimosa

  • Use a dry sparkling wine with sweeter fresh-squeezed orange juice and a sweeter sparkling wine with tart orange juice from concentrate
  • If you’re making pitchers of mimosas, don’t pre-mix it too far in advance or you’ll lose the carbonation; 10-15 minutes before serving is about as far in advance as is ideal

Negroni

Negroni Ingredients

  • 1 oz. gin
  • 1 oz. Campari
  • 1 oz. sweet vermouth
  • 1 orange peel

How to Make a Negroni

  1. Add all ingredients to a shaker with ice cubes, stir
  2. Strain into rocks glass full of ice
  3. Garnish with orange peel

Tips for Making a Negroni

  • Don’t rub the orange peel on the glass rim
  • Use a full-bodied, bold gin to compete with the very flavorful Campari for a balanced flavor

Whiskey Sour

Whiskey Sour Ingredients

  • 1.5 oz. bourbon whiskey
  • 1 oz. lemon juice
  • .5 oz. simple syrup
  • 1 cherry
  • 1 orange slice

How to Make a Whiskey Sour

  1. Add whiskey, lemon juice, and simple syrup to shaker without ice cubes, shake
  2. Strain into old-fashioned glass full of ice
  3. Garnish with cherry and orange slice

Tips for Making a Whiskey Sour

  • Add an egg white into the shaker with the whiskey, lemon juice, and simple syrup for the most traditional whiskey sour possible
  • Shake the cocktail without ice—also called a dry shake—vigorously to generate as much froth as possible
  • Use 1.5 oz. of sour mix instead of lemon juice and simple syrup if desired

Manhattan

Manhattan Ingredients

  • 2 oz. rye, bourbon, or Canadian whiskey
  • .75 oz. sweet vermouth
  • 1 dash Angostura bitters
  • 1 cherry

How to Make a Manhattan

  1. Pour whiskey, vermouth, and bitters into a shaker with ice cubes, stir
  2. Strain into chilled glass
  3. Garnish with cherry

Tips for Making a Manhattan

  • Shake with cracked ice to get a better mix; crack the ice cube in the palm of your hand with the back of a bar spoon
  • A maraschino cherry is best, though a lemon twist can be used instead of the cherry for a dressed-down version

Cosmopolitan

Cosmopolitan Ingredients

  • 1.5 oz. vodka
  • 1 oz cranberry juice
  • .5 oz. Cointreau
  • .5 oz. fresh lime juice
  • 1 lemon twist

How to Make a Cosmopolitan

  1. Pour vodka, cranberry juice, Cointreau, and lime juice into a shaker with ice cubes, shake
  2. Strain into cocktail glass
  3. Garnish with a lemon twist

Tips for Making a Cosmopolitan

  • Cut the lemon twist over the cocktail glass to capture any falling zest
  • Shake vigorously until the shaker is so cold your hands sting

Classic Drinks Every Bartender Should Know

Daiquiri

Daiquiri Ingredients

  • 1.5 oz. rum
  • 1 oz. lime juice
  • .5 oz. simple syrup
  • 1 lime twist

How to Make a Daiquiri

  1. Pour all ingredients into a shaker with ice cubes, shake
  2. Strain into chilled cocktail glass
  3. Garnish with lime twist

Tips for Making a Daiquiri

  • Make your own simple syrup using 2:1 cane sugar to water in a saucepan
  • Shake until the shaker tin frosts on the outside

Martini

Martini Ingredients

  • 3 oz. gin
  • 1.5 oz. dry vermouth
  • 1 speared olive or lemon twist

How to Make a Martini

  1. Pour gin and vermouth into a mixer with ice cubes, stir
  2. Strain into a chilled martini glass
  3. Garnish with an olive or lemon twist

Tips for Making a Martini

  • Chill some martini glasses in a freezer to make sure you have properly chilled glasses ready to go
  • Stir for 30 seconds
  • Cut the lemon twist over the martini glass, to capture any falling zest

Mojito

Mojito Ingredients

  • 1.5 oz. rum
  • 1 oz. lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 6 mint leaves
  • Club soda

How to Make a Mojito

  1. Muddle 4 mint leaves with sugar and lime juice
  2. Fill glass half full with crushed ice, add rum, and stir
  3. Top off with club soda
  4. Garnish with leftover 2 mint leaves

Tips for Making a Mojito

  • Slap the mint leaves with your hands before putting them in the glass to muddle; it releases the mint leaves’ essential oil
  • Stir gently to avoid mint leaves ripping
  • Use dark rum to create a deeper flavor profile

Margarita

Margarita Ingredients

  • 2 oz. tequila
  • 1 oz. Cointreau
  • 1 oz. lime juice
  • 1 lime slice
  • 1 pinch salt (for salted rim)

How to Make a Margarita

  1. Create salted rim (coat rim of glass with salt) and fill with ice
  2. Add tequila, Cointreau, lime juice, and ice to shaker. Shake.
  3. Strain into glass
  4. Garnish with lime slice

Tips for Making a Margarita

  • Shake, never stir, a margarita
  • Always use 100% agave tequila

Bloody Mary

Bloody Mary Ingredients

  • 2 oz. vodka
  • 6 oz. tomato juice
  • 1 tablespoon ground horseradish
  • 2 dashes hot sauce
  • 2 dashes Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 pinch celery salt
  • 1 pinch ground black pepper
  • 1 lemon slice
  • 1 celery stalk
  • 2 speared green olives

How to Make a Bloody Mary

  1. Coat the rim of a highball glass with celery salt, fill with with ice
  2. Squeeze juice of lemon slice into shaker, add vodka, tomato juice, horseradish, hot sauce, worcestershire sauce, and black pepper and shake with ice
  3. Strain shaker into highball glass
  4. Garnish with a celery stalk and green olive spear

Tips for Making a Bloody Mary

  • Any hot sauce can be used, though Tabasco is the traditional choice
  • Anything goes with garnishes: meat sticks, pickled vegetables, cheese
  • Serve with a sidecar of beer for best possible guest experience

Old Fashioned

Old Fashioned Ingredients

  • 1.5 oz. bourbon whiskey
  • 1 sugar cube
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
  • 1 teaspoon water
  • 1 orange slice or cherry

How to Make an Old Fashioned

  1. Place sugar cube in old fashioned glass and cover in bitters
  2. Add a teaspoon of water, muddle until sugar cube dissolved
  3. Fill glass with ice, add whiskey
  4. Garnish with orange slice or cherry

Tips for Making an Old Fashioned

  • The traditional recipe calls for bourbon, but rye whiskey, scotch, and brandy are popular substitutes for those who want less of the vanilla and caramel notes bourbon is known for
  • If sugar cubes aen’t handy or there’s no time or space to muddle, .75 oz. simple syrup can replace the sugar cube

Cocktails Every Bartender Should Know

These are the most popular cocktail recipes every bartender should know. They teach them in bartending school, no doubt. They are, in fact, must know drinks for bartenders—or those learning how to become a bartender. Whether at a sports bar or a cocktail bar, bartenders cannot escape these drinks. And for good reason. They’re all delicious. That’s why they’re the most popular cocktails. Discount them as one of your happy hour ideas, or tweak them with signature recipes for a bar promotion idea. Learn them, know them, mix them in your dreams. Check out our 7 classic, easy winter cocktail recipes, too!