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Unit 4: Cocktails & Mixed Drinks

Cocktails are mixed drinks that have become popular since the first quarter of the 20th century and all bars offer a list of selected cocktails. However, people have been drinking mixed drinks since the inception; no one could really establish the origin of the term ‘Cocktail’. It is claimed that the first recipe for a cocktail was lemon juice and powdered mixers, appreciated by Emperor Commodus in the second century AD.

One of many popular notions on the birth of the word cocktail is that during the American War of Independence, in 1779, an innkeeper, Betsy Flanagan of Virginia prepared of chicken she stole from a neighbor who was pro British. She then served the French soldiers with mixed drinks decorated with the feathers from the birds. Her merry French guests toasted her with the words Vive le cocktail. Since then the word cocktail was used to mean the mixed drinks. This is of course one of the stories.

The word cocktail was first described in an American magazine Balance as ‘a mixture of spirits, sugar water and bitters’ in 1806

The cocktail gained ground and popularity in the USA, especially during the Prohibition period. The production, transportation and sale of alcoholic beverage were banned in the USA from 1920 to 1933 due to the pressure from religious and political thinkers.

"A cocktail is normally a short drink of 3 ½ -4 fluid ounces-anything larger being called a ‘mixed drink’ or a ‘long drink’"

Classification of cocktails

It is estimated that there are over 10 thousand mixed drinks and cocktails in use.

Iced drinks can be roughly divided into four groups

  1. Aperitif: These stimulate the Appetite. They must therefore be appealing to the eye. Broadly speaking, these drinks are usually made from wines mixed with spirit.

  2. Cocktail: This the largest group of all, and consists of all short shaken mixed drinks. They should contain a spirit base, coloring and flavouring ingredient or other modifying agent

  3. Long drinks: These are served in tall tumblers such as High Balls ,or Collins glass

  4. Stimulants: Instead of going to the doctor, if one has a hangover the bartender will prescribe cocktails or mixed drinks. They are also described as ‘Pick me ups’.

Components of Cocktail:

Cocktails have the following components:

Base: The major alcoholic drink used in the preparation of a cocktail is called base, which is usually a spirit. Most cocktails are built around spirits. If a cocktail has two or more alcoholic drinks the quantity of the base generally will be more than the other. If two alcoholic drinks are used in same quantity, then the one with the higher that is the sprit is considered as the base. If a cocktail has equal quantities of different spirits then any one of the spirit can be taken as the base.

Modifier: These are complimentary ingredients added to modify or enhance the flavours. Spirits, aromatized, wines beer, fruit juices, soda, cream, liqueurs, water etc.

Flavouring, Colouring and Sweetening Ingredient: A drink might have very small quantities (few drops) of one or more flavouring and sweetening ingredients to make it different from other drinks. A cocktail can be made without these ingredients

Garnish: Many drinks have garnish. They are part of the product. It should be remembered that some drinks do not have standard garnish and it is advisable to serve without any garnish, instead of trying out different garnishes and spoiling the real flavour and value of the drink.



Cocktails are made in any of these following methods according to the type of modifier ingredients

Building: It is made by pouring the ingredients one by one in the glass in which it is to be served. If ice is required, it is placed first before adding the ingredients

Stirring: refers to mixing of the ingredients with ice by stirring quickly in a mixing glass with a stirrer and then straining to an appropriate glass. It is done very quickly to minimize the dilution.

Shaking: It is the mixing of ingredients thoroughly with ice by shaking them in Cocktail shaker and straining into appropriate glasses. Effervescent drinks should never be shaken.

Blending: This method is used for combining fruits, solid foods, ice etc in an electric bender. Any drink that can be shaken can be blended. It is a suitable method for making large quantity of mixed drinks

Layering: This method is used when the ingredients used are of different colour flavour and density. One ingredient is floated over the other by pouring gently over the back of the spoon into straight-sided glass.



  • Make sure that there is a good supply of ice

  • Do not reuse ice.

  • Do not touch the ice with hands. Always use scoop or tongs.

  • Serve cocktails in chilled glasses

  • To avoid spillage, do not fill glasses to the brim

  • Do not overfill thee cocktail shaker.

  • Effervescent drinks must never be shaken. It should be stirred in at last.

  • Do not use the liquidizer for effervescent drinks.

  • Do not leave the prepared cocktail for a long time as they will separate

  • To extract more juice from citrus fruits, Soak them in hot water

  • To shake use short and snappy action

  • Check the freshness of eggs before adding

  • Always place ice first in the mixing glass or shaker followed by nonalcoholic beverage and then non alcoholic beverages.

  • To extract more juice from citrus fruits, Soak them in hot water

  • To shake use short and snappy action

  • Check the freshness of eggs before adding

  • Always place ice first in the mixing glass or shaker followed by nonalcoholic beverage and then non alcoholic beverages.


Cocktail Garnishes

A garnish is an item that decorates and flavours food and drinks. In bar the garnish most used are fruit and some herbs. The fruit must always be fresh and washed.

The common garnishes are:

Lemons: lemon skins impart lovely citrus flavour to drinks. It is best presented as twists of lemon peel.

Lime: A lime gives 16 wedges or slices. Wedges are used to moisten the rim of the glass to adhere salt or sugar. Slices are lime wheels used as decoration for cocktails.

Orange: Orange slices or wedges are used much the same way as lime is used in cocktails with a base of orange juice.

Maraschino cherries: These cherries are specially prepared for cocktail decorative purposes.

Olives: Olives go well with neat drinks like vodka and gin

Pineapple: Pineapple spears or wheels go as garnishes for tropical drinks, where pineapple juice is used.

Mint leaves: they are ideal for decorative purposes specially when a contrast in colour is desired

Parsley: Parsley shoots are used in some rinks more as a decorative item.


Appropriate glassware should be used for all kinds of mixed drinks - cocktails, mocktail, or long drinks. The glass chosen should be very clear without any bubbles. The glass should have a thin rim to provide very good drink experience.

All glasses should be well polished, free from grease and without any traces of strong smell. The glassware used during the service of cocktails are as follows:

  • Rock

  • Collins

  • Champagne flute

  • Wine Goblet

  • Liqueur Glasses

  • Highball

  • Cocktail

  • Tulip

  • Tankard

  • Brandy Sniffer/ Balloon

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