The Abbreviated Bartender's Guide: A Few Good Drinks
By Chuck Hawks
Many cocktail recipes are usually stated in proportions ("four parts gin, one part vermouth" in the case of a Martini), rather than in absolute measurements (ounces, grams, tablespoons, etc.) like food recipes. The main reason for this is that it allows mixing a pitcher or other volume of cocktails for parties and gatherings. It also allows filling cocktail glasses of varying sizes, since there is no standard volume glass for Martinis, Manhattans, Cosmopolitans and similar cocktails.
The traditional measuring unit for hard liquor is the "jigger," a small glass that holds 1-1/2 ounces. A "pony jigger" is a one ounce shot. A jigger with lines on it to measure 1/2 ounce, one ounce and 1-1/2 ounces of liquor is very convenient.
Try to serve cocktails in an appropriate size glass. For instance, a four ounce drink in a four or five ounce glass. Basic bar measures and typical drinking glass capacities, as well as some helpful hints, are listed after the drink recipes in this brief guide.
Serve a single shot (1-1/2 ounce) in a shot glass or a double shot (three ounces) in a small glass at room temperature.
Other than a steady hand to pour the Bourbon, not much is required to make this drink. Use a good 80 or 86 proof (100 proof is only for experienced Bourbon drinkers) straight Bourbon whiskey, NOT blended whiskey.
This recipe was submitted by Jerry Kuntz, whose family made Kentucky Bourbon for eight generations. Jerry says that adding water dilutes the Bourbon taste and ice dulls the taste buds. He also claims that "real" Bourbon is only made in Kentucky--a dubious assertion, but understandable under the circumstances.
Bourbon and coffee
Serve in a coffee cup or mug. Pour in a jigger of Bourbon and fill with hot coffee at less than 173-degrees F or 78.4-degrees C. It is okay to add cream and/or sugar to taste.
Bourbon flavored coffee is actually pretty good. If the coffee is boiling hot it will boil off the alcohol, which has a lower boiling point than water, only 173-degrees F or 78.4-degrees C. Otherwise you will still get drunk if you drink too much, but at least you will stay awake. Also see Whiskey Coffee.
Bourbon and water
Serve in a four ounce (approx.) glass on the rocks. Use one jigger of Bourbon for a single serving. Adjust the amount of water to taste.
Use bottled water if your tap water is hard. A good drink for the long haul, if you like Bourbon.
Bourbon on the Rocks
Serve in an old fashioned glass with two regular ice cubes.
So simple to make even your Mother-in-law should be able to get it right. This is not a good drink to economize on your brand of bourbon. Use a good, straight Bourbon whiskey, such as Old Grand Dad, Old Crow, Old Taylor, Wild Turkey, Evan Williams, Jack Daniels, Jim Beam, etc. Another good drink for the long haul, provided you like Bourbon.
Half fill a highball glass with ice cubes, add the OJ and Champagne.
Good at a Champagne breakfast and you can kid yourself that you are having your OJ. Also see Mimosa.
Champagne & Orange Juice
Put two ice cubes in a juice glass and then fill with half Champagne and half orange juice.
Tastes good and you actually do get your orange juice. My favorite at a Champagne breakfast.
Shake on ice until cold and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a Maraschino cherry or a slice of lime. You can substitute real lime juice for Rose's, if desired.
The Cosmopolitan is a classic from the 1930's that has made a comeback. Unfortunately, you almost never get two the same in different bars or restaurants. I did a lot of research in bars, as well as in old bartender's guides and on the Internet, and this recipe makes a Cosmo that tastes pretty much as I think it was intended to without a lot of hassle or exotic ingredients.
Cosmopolitan (IBA Specifications)
Shake on ice until cold and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a slice of lime.
"Vodka Citron" is lemon flavored vodka, which is available in several brands. This is the current Cosmopolitan recipe per the International Bartender's Association. If you don't have Cointreau you can substitute Triple Sec (orange liqueur) and get about the same result.
Cosmopolitan (Smirnoff recipe)
Shake on ice until cold and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a curl of orange peel.
Direct from the Smirnoff website.
Shake contents on ice until cold and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a twist of orange.
Another good Cosmo recipe, taken from the Absolut website. If you don't have Absolut Citron you can substitute any lemon flavored vodka and get about the same result.
Put four regular ice cubes in a tall glass and pour in one jigger (1.5 ounces) of rum. Fill balance of glass with Coke to taste. Garnish with a lime wedge.
Also called "Rum and Coke," but now you know its real name. It originated in Cuba during the Spanish American War, when U.S. troops mixed the local rum with American Coca-Cola (the only mixer they had available).
Dump ingredients into a blender and make it into a smoothie. Serve in a cocktail glass.
If you can't find frozen Daiquiri mix, you can substitute a can of frozen lime juice concentrate.
Shake on ice until cold and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a cocktail onion. This variation on the Martini substitutes a pickled onion for the traditional stuffed green olive, which alters the taste of the cocktail.
If you serve the above recipe in a low ball glass with ice, it is a "Gibson on the rocks." If you substitute Vodka for Gin, you have a "Vodka Gibson."
Gin and Tonic
Fill a Collins glass with ice cubes and add a jigger of gin. Squeeze the juice from a lime wedge into the drink and drop the wedge in as a garnish. Then add 2.5 ounces of tonic water.
Gin with a Twist
Serve in an old fashioned glass with two regular ice cubes.
Use a premium brand of gin, such as Tanqueray, Bombay Sapphire, or Beefeaters. (This is not the place for cheap gin.) Gin with a twist is pretty good, assuming that you like gin. Don't omit the twist, it really does improve the taste and without the twist you are drinking straight gin, which can get you labeled an alcoholic.
For a single serving, use a jigger of Scotch and a half jigger of Amaretto liqueur. Serve on ice in an old fashioned glass. Garnish with a Maraschino cherry.
For a single serving, use a jigger of Bourbon and a pony jigger of Amaretto. Serve on ice in an old fashioned glass. Garnish with a Maraschino cherry.
Put three or four regular ice cubes in a tall glass and add Bourbon. Fill balance of glass with ginger ale to taste. Garnish with a Maraschino cherry.
Serve in a liqueur glass as an after dinner drink.
Another drink that is hard to mess up, since there is only one ingredient.
Serve in a brandy snifter after dinner, or on the rocks in an old fashioned glass anytime. Yum!
Shake on ice until cold and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a Maraschino cherry. If you prefer, you may substitute Rye Whiskey (the original ingredient) or Canadian Whiskey (commonly used during Prohibition) for Bourbon in your Manhattan. Two jiggers (3 ounces) of whiskey and a pony jigger (1 ounce) of Vermouth will nicely fill many typical cocktail glasses.
If you serve the above recipe in a low ball glass with ice, it is a "Manhattan on the rocks." If you particularly like the taste of Maraschino cherries, you can add up to one teaspoon of Maraschino cherry juice. The Manhattan is one of the classic cocktails, dating approximately from the 1870's. If you only learn to make two cocktails, the Manhattan should be one of them. (The Martini should be the other.)
Shake on ice until cold and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a Maraschino cherry.
Shake in an ice filled shaker & serve on the rocks, or add to 1-1/2 cups of ice in a blender. (Finest Call is the best Margarita mix.)
Shake or stir (it doesn't matter which) on ice until cold and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with one or two stuffed green olives; these are required, not optional. A dash of orange bitters is optional.
If you serve the above recipe in a low ball glass with ice, it is a "Martini on the rocks." The Martini is one of the classic cocktails, probably dating back to the 1860's. If you only learn to make one cocktail, it should be a Martini.
Shake ingredients on ice until cold and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with two stuffed green olives.
Feel free to adjust the amount of olive brine to taste. Some folks prefer equal amounts of vermouth and brine.
Shake or stir on ice until cold and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with stuffed green olives.
Martini, Extra Dry
Shake two ounces of dry vermouth on ice, discard vermouth, save the ice. Pour two jiggers of gin into a shaker with the vermouth coated ice, shake or stir until cold and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish witha stuffed green olive.
Martini, Bachelor Dry
Drop a frozen stuffed green olive into a frozen cocktail glass. Pour in half an ounce of chilled dry vermouth and slosh it around the glass with the olive. Add two jiggers of chilled gin and stir. (The frozen olive helps keep the drink cold.)
Necessary advance preparations: (1) Store a glass in the freezer; (2) Pour off the brine and freeze a bottle of jumbo stuffed green olives; (3) Chill your gin and dry vermouth in the refigerator. Having done these things in advance, you are ready to make yourself a Martini at a moment's notice.
Martini, Quickie Bachelor (On Ice)
An variation on the Bachelor Martini for those who forgot to freeze the olives and a glass. (You still gotta store your gin and vermouth in the refrigerator, though.) Slosh about an ounce of chilled dry vermouth in a low ball glass with a stuffed olive and an ice cube and then dump it out. Pour in two jiggers of chilled gin. Cheers!
Martini, Vodka (Vodkatini)
Mix just like a standard Dry Martini (above), except vodka is substituted for gin. Garnish with a stuffed green olive. Also see Vodkatini.
Can also be ordered on the rocks, just like a real Martini, which a Vodkatini is NOT. A true Martini only has three ingredients (counting the olive) and vodka isn't one of them. To avoid confusing your bartender, please call this latecomer a "Vodkatini" (its original name) or a "Vodka Martini," but never a "Martini."
Pour OJ into a Champagne glass with a teaspoon of triple sec and fill with Champagne to taste.
Similar to a Champagne Fizz (see above) in a different glass and equally good.
First, you must make the syrup. Dissolve equal parts sugar in water (e.g. 1-cup sugar, 1-cup boiling water); stir, steep, remove from heat and refrigerate overnight. That done, make one serving at a time by muddling several fresh mint leaves in julep cup, then filling the cup with crushed ice, adding a tablespoon of syrup to two ounces of straight Bourbon whiskey. Stir rapidly to frost the outside of the cup. Garnish with a sprig of fresh mint dusted in powdered sugar.
Serve with a short swizzle straw so that the nose almost touches the garnish, there-by engaging the olfactory senses and enhancing the flavor. Traditionally, you should use a silver Julep cup. A cocktail napkin is a must as the silver frosts rapidly. This recipe was contributed by Jerry Kuntz.
Put three or four ice cubes in a highball glass, then add a jigger of butterscotch schnapps. Fill to taste with cream soda.
This is reported to be country singer Miranda Lambert's favorite drink. (The "Fastest Girl In Town.")
Put three or four ice cubes in a highball glass with a jigger of vodka. Add orange juice to taste. Garnish with a Maraschino cherry.
Good to drink with breakfast if you have a hangover; pleasant on a warm afternoon if you don't.
Seven and Seven
Fill a tall glass with ice cubes and add two ounces of whiskey. Fill balance of glass with 7-Up to taste. Garnish with a lemon wedge.
You can substitute a straight bourbon if you don't have Segram's 7 (a blended whiskey) and any lemon/lime soda if your don't have 7-Up.
Fill balance of glass with 7-Up to taste. Garnish with a lime wedge.
“The Irish are nothing more then Vikings who got lost on their way to Scotland.” (An old British saying.) If they were drinking this, we know what happened! Try a Sour Irishman in honor of St. Patricks Day. Submitted by Mark Kapping.
Typically made with one jigger of vodka and two jiggers of Sparkling Ice Pomegranate Berry. This one is from country singer Chris Young.
Mix the gin, lemon juice and sugar syrup in a Collins glass with ice and then add soda water to taste. Garnish with a maraschino cherry and/or a lemon slice.
Shake or stir vodka and vermouth on ice until cold and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a stuffed green olive.
Can also be ordered on the rocks and served in a low ball glass. To avoid confusing your bartender, please call this cocktail a "Vodkatini" (its original name) or even a "Vodka Martini," but never just a "Martini." A true Martini is made with gin, not vodka.
Vodka and Tonic
Fill a Collins glass with ice cubes and add a jigger of vodka. Squeeze the juice from a lime wedge into the drink and drop the wedge in as a garnish. Then add 2.5 ounces of tonic water.
Serve in a coffee cup or mug. Pour in a jigger of Bourbon, Canadian, Irish, Scotch or Rye whiskey and fill with your favorite hot coffee. It is okay to add cream and/or sugar to taste.
I prefer straight Bourbon, but any whiskey (even blended) will do. If the coffee is boiling hot it will boil off the alcohol, which has a lower boiling point (173-degrees F or 78.4-degrees C) than water.
Shake whiskey, lemon juice and powdered sugar on ice until cold and strain into an Old Fashioned glass. Garnish with a half-slice of lemon and a Maraschino cherry.
Whiskey Sour on the Rocks, Quickie or Bachelor
Put an ice cube in an Old Fashioned glass, dump in a jigger of the whiskey of your choice, add a jigger of Squirt and garnish with a Maraschino cherry. Adjust the proportions of Squirt and whiskey to taste.
Wine Cooler, Pink Charlie
Put three or four ice cubes in a tall glass. Fill glass half-and-half with Pink Chablis and 7-Up or Sprite.
A surprisingly good summer refreshment.
Basic bar measures
Dash = 1/32 ounce
Teaspoon = 1/8 ounce
Regular ice cube = 1 ounce by volume (approximately)
Pony Jigger = 1 ounce
Jigger = 1.5 ounces
Shot glass = 1.5 ounces
Double shot = 3 ounces
Cocktail glass = Standard size 4.5 ounces (Larger sizes have become popular).
Champagne glass = 6 ounces
Old Fasioned or low ball glass = approx. 6 ounces (sometimes more)
Cup = 8 ounces
Collins glass = approx. 10 ounces (sometimes more) with parallel sides
Highball glass = 8 to 12 ounces (tapered sides)
Fifth (of a gallon) = 25.4 ounces or 750 ml
Get a jigger with lines on it indicating the 1/2 ounce, one ounce and 1-1/2 ounce levels. It makes mixing drinks a lot easier.
Keep the ingredients for your most commonly served drinks (in my case Martinis, Manhattans and Cosmopolitans) in the refrigerator and a couple of glasses suitable for same in the freezer. This helps the cocktails stay cold longer after they are served and reduces the amount of ice water that melts into them while they are being prepared.
Avoid "foo-foo" drinks like Banana Daiquiris and Strawberry Margaritas if at all possible. Even women in hats look silly drinking such concoctions. When faced with an inexperienced drinker who doesn't know what cocktail to order, or is about to order a foo-foo drink, suggest a Cosmopolitan. Practically everyone likes a Cosmo and it is a real cocktail. In extreme circumstances, try a Queen Soda; it looks about like a Highball and tastes like a soft drink.
To make the drinks on the list you need to have the following basic liquors:
Bourbon - Always buy a straight (not blended) Bourbon whiskey. Old Crow and Evan Williams Black Label are a good brands at a medium price; Jack Daniel's Black Label, Old Grand Dad, Knob Creek and Jim Beam are examples of traditional premium brands.
Gin - Gilbey's and Seagram's are decent brands at reasonable prices; Tanqueray, Bombay Sapphire and Beefeaters are premium brands. Tanqueray is my long-time favorite.
Rum (Light and Dark) - Montego Bay is a less expensive brand that I like. Ronrico is a good upscale brand. Bacardi is Miranda Lambert's favorite.
Scotch - I am not a Scotch whiskey drinker, but even I enjoy a little Chivas Regal if Scotch is required. Haig & Haig Pinch is also good. Both are expensive blended Scotches.
Tequila - I am not a Tequila drinker and Margaritas involve a lot of other ingredients that tend to obscure the subtleties of the basic liquor, so I buy something like Monarch Silver, based mostly on price.
Vodka - Gilbey's is a good brand at a reasonable price. Smirnoff's is a more upscale American brand and Absolut is an expensive imported (Swedish) vodka, but quite good.
Liqueurs and Wines
Amaretto Liqueur - Bols and DeKuyper brands would be my suggestions.
Butterscotch Schnapps - DeKuyper Buttershots is my first choice, Potter's Butterscotch Liqueur is somewhat less expensive.
Irish Creme - Bailey's Irish Creme is what you want.
Irish Mist Liqueur - There is only one Irish Mist. It is expensive, but exquisite.
Triple Sec Liqueur - Bols and DeKuyper brands are good, widely distributed and moderately priced.
Champagne - I'm no expert, but I like Almaden brand from California.
Pink Chablis wine - Gallo is the classic choice, but any screw-top brand will do.
Vermouth (Dry and Sweet) - Gallo is fine; Tribuno, LeJon and Martini & Rossi are well known, more upscale brands.
Mixers & Miscellaneous
Bitters - Agnostura is the brand. Get a little bottle, the stuff goes a very long way.
Coca-Cola - Coke is the original, but Pepsi or your favorite cola soft drink will do.
Coffee - Whatever you usually drink is fine. For me that's usually Taster's Choice instant, but (thank goodness) I am not picky about coffee. Most decent restaurants and bars brew their own coffee.
Cranberry Juice - Try to get the real thing, as opposed to "Cranberry Juice Cocktail," for Cosmopolitans. However, the latter will do in a pinch.
Cream Soda - A&W cream soda is what I use. Henry Weinhard's Vanilla Cream is a excellent premium brand.
Daiquiri Mix, frozen - Bacardi Mixers are quite common, but other brands are also satisfactory.
Ginger Ale - Canada Dry brand is as good as any.
Lemon/Lime Soda - 7-Up or Sprite are the most common brands and your secret is safe with me if you use the diet version.
Lime juice - Use Rose's Sweetened Lime Juice or squeeze the real thing. I'm lazy, so I use Rose's.
Margarita mix - Use Finest Call, if available.
Maraschino cherries - The kind with the stem attached are convenient.
Stuffed green olives - Get the jumbo size with pimiento inside.
Tonic Water - Schweppes is well known, as is Canada Dry.
Copyright 2002, 2020 by Chuck Hawks. All rights reserved.