Cocktails 101+Recipes

What is a Cocktail?

While there are many methods and mixology techniques, a cocktail is defined as any mixed alcoholic drink of one or more spirits combined with other ingredients such as fruit juice, flavored syrup, or cream.

What is an Aperitif?

Cocktails are also referred to as “aperitifs,” which is simply an alcoholic drink taken before a meal to stimulate the appetite. It can be considered an appetizer or starter. The bar classic cosmopolitan cocktail is an example of a popular aperitif many bar-goers can recognize.

Since many customers like to enjoy a cocktail before their meal or while sharing appetizers, it’s important that you can quickly produce drinks with great flavor but a low wait time. This is why having the right cocktail mixes available for your bartender can be a huge benefit.

Types of Liquor

Any great cocktail mix starts with its star ingredient – the liquor. This is one of the biggest determiners for your guests while they browse your cocktail menu.

Before selecting what mixes you want to keep on hand, it’s important to make sure your bar is fully stocked with at least each type of alcohol from the 6 essential base liquors. Having one of each allows you to cater to a range of tastes and create the classic cocktails.


Distilled from: Potatoes or neutral grains like rye, corn, and wheat, or potatoes

Flavor: Neutral alcohol or ethanol taste

Cocktail Uses: Screwdriver, Bloody Mary


Distilled from: Agave plant native to hot, arid regions of the Americas

Flavor: Has a semi-sweet, spicy taste

Cocktail Uses: Margarita, Long Island Tea


Distilled from: Neutral grains such as corn, rye, barley, or wheat, with the addition of juniper berries and botanicals

Flavor: Dry and slighlty herbal taste

Cocktail Uses: Dry Martini, Gin & Tonic


Distilled from: Pure sugar cane or molasses also known as black treacle

Flavor: Sweet, toasted sugar taste that varies by style

Cocktail Uses: Daiquiri, Mojito, Piña Colada


Distilled from: Malted grains such as rye, wheat, barley, or corn

Flavor: Malted grain taste with roasted, oak undertones

Cocktail Uses: Old Fashioned, Manhattan, Irish Coffee


Distilled from: Mostly grapes but also apricots, cherries, or peaches

Flavor: Sweet, fruity wine 

Cocktail Uses: Brandy Sour, Sazerac, Sangria

Choosing Classic Cocktails

Once you have your bar stocked with liquor, it’s time to pick cocktail mixes that complement your selection of alcohol. With so many options, it’s best to keep in mind what type of flavors you want to offer. Thanks to the mix however, you won’t have to spend a lot of time muddling or creating the drink from scratch.

You can simply pour out the mix, add the alcohol, and then garnish the drink in an attractive cocktail glass with ease. That way guests get their great-tasting order quickly, leaving them with the memory of a positive experience.

With so many mixes available, it can be hard to choose. Here are some of the top options available through for some of the most ordered drinks. Keeping any of these on hand to cut down wait time for these bar favorites.

Restaurant Equipment

Margarita Mix

An iconic bar drink, and one of the most ordered on bar menus across America, this cocktail is a classic. Keep a mix on hand in your establishment to satisfy tequila fans.

How to make a margarita:

  • 4 oz. margarita mix
  • 1 1/2 oz. tequila
  • 1 1/2 oz. water
  • Rim a glass with salt and pour “on the rocks”
Restaurant Equipment

Bloody Mary Mix

A delicious and full-bodied cocktail bursting with unique flavors, Bloody Marys have a huge fan base. Vodka lovers are sure to be happy when they see it on your menu.

How to make a Bloody Mary: 

  • 4 parts bloody Mary mix
  • 1 part vodka
  • Pour over ice and stir
  • Garnish with celery stalk, lime, or cucumber slice
Restaurant Equipment

Sweet & Sour Mix

This all-time favorite mix creates a cocktail with complex flavors. Combined with your choice liquor the end result is a delicious cocktail layered with sour, sweet, and strong flavors.

How to make a classic sour cocktail:

  • 4 oz. of sweet & sour mix
  • 1 1/2 oz. of bourbon, whiskey, vodka, or brandy
  • Rim a glass with salt
  • Pour over ice and garnish with a lemon
Restaurant Equipment

Martini Mix

Popular enough to have a glass named after it, martinis are standard bar fare. Shaken or stirred, they’re a refreshing cocktail drink that’s withstood the trends of time.

How to make a cosmopolitan martini:

  • 2 oz. cosmopolitan mix
  • 2 oz. vodka
  • Shake vigorously in an ice filled shaker
  • Strain into a martini glass and garnish with a lemon
Restaurant Equipment

Blended Mix

A variety of fruity drinks have the option of coming as blended cocktails. In warm seasons, guests can’t get enough of refreshing blended maragritas, daiquiris, or pina coladas.

How to make a pina colada:

  • 4 oz. pina colada mix
  • 1 oz. rum
  • 1 1/2 cups ice
  • Blend for 10 seconds, pour, and garnish
Restaurant Equipment

Seasonal Mix

Showcasing herbal or fruit flavors seasonally is a great way to excite customers and keep your cocktail menu fresh. For example, offer mojitos in the summertime featuring freshly picked mint.

How to make a mojito:

  • 3 oz. mojito mix
  • 1 1/2 oz. white rum
  • Pour over ice and top with club soda or seltzer
  • Garnish with sprig of spearmint and lime

Enhancing Your Cocktail Mixes

Take your cocktail concoctions up to a whole new level by also arming your bartender with a variety of alcohol infusers, bar syrups, bitters, and concentrated flavors. Incorporating these side ingredients into the cocktail mixing process can turn your classic cocktail into a signature drink with a unique flavor.

Restaurant Equipment

Alcohol Infusers & How to Use Them

With infusers, you can experiment and make signature flavored spirits in-house ultimately leading to signature cocktails that only you serve.

Simply pour your choice of liquor or alcohol like vodka, rum, tequila, or white wine into the infusion bottle. Allow it time to absorb the flavors until it reaches your desired strength and then add it into your recipes.

The perks of using infusers include:

  • consistent drink results for customers
  • fresh taste without the hassle of using fresh ingredients
Restaurant Equipment

Cocktail Bitters & Concentrated Flavors

As salt accentuates an entree dish, concentrated bitters or flavorings add an extra layer of taste to cocktails. A little bit of the powerful flavoring can go a long way. Keeping some at your bar is the perfect way to easily create bar favorites with a slightly more sophisticated and complex flavor that guests will notice.

The perks of using bitters or concentrated flavors include:

  • Precise control of the flavoring
  • Adds an unexpected, edgy taste to improve the drink
Restaurant Equipment

Cocktail Syrups & Their Benefits

Many cocktails are best enjoyed sweet, but sugar isn’t always the best way to achieve that taste. Granulated sugar doesn’t dissolve well in cold drinks or alcohol. This is where having the right cocktail syrups at your fingertips can be a great way to get that sweet taste in your cocktails. 

The perks of using syrup include:

  • Easily dissolves into cold mixtures
  • Can be controlled to achieve the right amount of sweet flavor

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