Bartending: Cocktails Every Bartender Should Know

Cocktails Every Bartender Should Know

The bartender is the most important person in the bar. A bartender creates a sense of community and has a lot of influence on how much people drink, how much they spend, and what they talk about.

The bartending industry has been around for centuries. It is a profession that requires a lot of creativity and dexterity. It is an art that requires patience, creativity, and knowledge of the classics. You can have all these skills but still not be able to make a good drink if you don’t know what ingredients to use or how to prepare them properly. The best bartenders know their ingredients and how they should be prepared before mixing them with the right amount of liquor. They also have to know how to mix cocktails to serve them correctly.

If you are looking for some extra help, our bartenders for hire know all the basics below and then some.

1. Aperol Spritz

Aperol Spritz is a famous cocktail that originated in Italy. It’s the perfect drink for summertime or when you want to feel like you’re on vacation. You can find it at most bars or restaurants that serve Italian food and drinks. It’s made by putting ingredients into a mixing glass: Aperol, Campari, and sparkling water, together with ice cubes.

2. Bellini

Bellini is a classic cocktail that has been around since the 1800s. It’s made with Prosecco, peach puree, peach brandy, and fresh lemon juice. Bellini is a summertime drink. It’s light and refreshing. It’s also a great way to cool off on a hot day. 

3. Black Russian

Black Russian is a type of cocktail that consists of vodka, coffee liqueur, and cream. It is a famous cocktail for bartenders who want to keep things interesting and unique at their bar and can be made in many different variations. It is often served with a sugar rim or cinnamon stick.

Black Russian was created by the owner of the Black Cat bar in San Francisco in the 1930s. The drink was named after the black cat hanging around his bar.

4. Bloody Mary

The Bloody Mary is a cocktail of vodka, tomato juice, and spices such as celery salt, lemon juice, Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco sauce, and sometimes horseradish. The drink is served in a tall glass with ice cubes on top and garnishes such as a pickled green bean or olive, or lemon wedge. It got its name from the red drink’s colour and the supposed bad luck that comes with it.

The Bloody Mary is often served as breakfast, brunch, or late-night snacks. It can also be served with beer instead of vodka and has become increasingly popular among bartenders looking for a new drink to serve their patrons.

5. Caipirinha & Caipiroska

Caipirinha is a Brazilian drink made from cachaça, sugar, ice cubes and lime juice. Caipiroska is a drink that replaces lime juice with orange liqueur.

It was first served in bars and became popular because it helped to fight against hangovers. The Caipiroska was created later on when bartenders wanted to create a variation of the drink without using fresh lime juice, which can be costly and time-consuming to produce.

6. Champagne Cocktail

The Champagne Cocktail is a popular drink made from champagne, sugar syrup, and fresh fruit. It is often served in flutes or glasses. This cocktail is the perfect way to celebrate a special occasion or just your day. It is light and refreshing and has a nice balance of sweetness and acidity. The champagne makes it an indulgent drink you can have on any occasion.

7. Cosmopolitan (Cosmo)

Cosmopolitan was initially called “Cobbler’s Delight” because the original recipe was made with gin and wine. It is typically served in a martini glass and garnished with an olive or lemon twist. It has been described as “a vodka cocktail with cranberry juice.”

Cosmopolitan has been popularised in recent years due to its association with women who are independent and empowered.

8. Daiquiri

Daiquiris are refreshing, fruity cocktails made with rum, lime juice and sugar. They are usually served in a tall glass with ice and topped with fruit and/or soda water. Daiquiris are often served in the United States as a frozen drink, and they are also available in many other variations, such as the Cuba Libre or the Piña Colada.

The daiquiri was created by U.S. Army Captain Harry Yount of the USASA, who mixed up his concoction while stationed in Cuba during the Spanish-American War of 1898.

9. Espresso Martini

An espresso martini is a drink made with espresso, cream, and sugar. It has a rich, complex flavour that is perfect for the summertime.

The espresso martini was invented in America by Harry Craddock in the 1930s. The drink became popular in the 1940s when served at the Stork Club in New York City.

10. Irish Coffee

Irish coffee is a popular drink that is served in a tall glass and has a layer of cream on top. It is made by pouring hot, black coffee brewed with sugar and Irish whiskey into top of cold, freshly poured cream.

11. Long Island Iced Tea

Long Island Iced Tea is a famous cocktail made with vodka, gin, tequila, triple sec, sweet vermouth and iced tea. Long Island Iced Tea is also known as a “bartender’s drink” because bartenders often use it to make drinks for their customers.

12. Mai-Tai

Mai-Tai is a cocktail that is a mix of gin, orgeat, and lime juice. It was first introduced in the early 1800s by Jerry Thomas, a bartender at the time.

Mai-Tai has different variations, such as Mai Tai Swizzle, made with rum and pineapple juice and Mai Tai Daiquiri, which uses white rum and lime juice.

13. Manhattan

The Manhattan drink is a cocktail consisting of whiskey, sweet vermouth and Angostura bitters. The Manhattan cocktail is one of the most popular cocktails in the world, with its roots in New York City.

14. Margarita

Margarita is a cocktail made from tequila, Triple Sec and lime juice. It was created in the 1800s by a bartender at El Floridita in Cuba.

Margarita has been around for decades, but it has recently become popular as a cocktail because of its versatility. It can be made with many different ingredients, such as strawberries, cucumber, or pineapple.

15. The Martini

A Martini, traditionally made with gin, vermouth, and an orange twist, epitomizes classic cocktail elegance. It is most commonly presented in an old-fashioned glass, embellished with an olive or a lemon twist for garnish. The name “Martini” derives from the Italian diminutive term for “little,” reflecting its concise yet impactful flavor profile. This cocktail’s simplicity belies its sophisticated taste, making it a timeless choice for connoisseurs and casual drinkers alike, embodying a rich history within its minimalistic ingredients.

16. Mojito

A Mojito is a cocktail made with rum, sugar, lime, mint leaves and soda water. The mojito is typically served in a tall glass over ice with mint leaves and a lime wedge. The drink is named after the Cuban city of Bayamo, where it was first mixed in the 19th century.

Mojitos are often made in bars that serve Cuban cuisine but can also be found at other establishments that serve Caribbean or Latin American cuisine.

17. Moscow Mule

The Moscow Mule, a cocktail initially crafted with vodka, ginger beer, and lime juice, included sugar in its original recipe, later substituted by grenadine for a modern twist. This adjustment adds a unique flavor profile to the drink, maintaining its classic appeal while introducing a new layer of taste complexity. This iconic beverage, known for its distinctive serving in a copper mug, has become a beloved choice for its refreshing and spicy kick, perfectly blending the warmth of ginger with the crispness of lime and the smoothness of vodka.

18. Negroni

The Negroni cocktail, a renowned aperitif, is a harmonious blend of gin, vermouth, and Campari, known for its balanced bitter-sweet flavor. Traditionally, it’s served over ice in a chilled cocktail glass, embodying the essence of Italian cocktail culture. This drink’s simplicity in preparation belies its complex taste profile, making it a favorite among enthusiasts seeking a sophisticated, yet refreshing beverage.

19. Old-Fashioned

The old-fashioned drink is a cocktail created in the 19th century. It is made with gin, lime juice, and sugar syrup. It is a favourite among bartenders looking to make a quick, simple cocktail that will please their customers.

The Old-Fashioned drink has been around for more than 100 years and is still one of the most popular cocktails in America. The Old-Fashioned has not been forgotten by bartenders, though – it remains a famous cocktail for those who want something more complex than vodka but don’t want to spend too much time on their drinks.

20. Pimm’s Cup

The Pimm’s Cup, a quintessential summer beverage since 1823, blends gin, lemon, cucumber, mint, and sugar to create a uniquely refreshing drink. Its origins and enduring popularity highlight its status as a staple of leisurely, warm-weather gatherings, offering a taste that’s both invigorating and subtly complex.

21. Piña Colada

The Piña Colada is a cocktail made with rum, pineapple juice, and coconut cream, which may be mixed or shaken with ice. It is a popular drink in the Caribbean and Latin America.

The drink was created due to a request from a customer named Victor Jules Bergeron, who asked for something that would taste like his favourite drink – the Pina Colada that he had at his favourite restaurant in Puerto Rico.

22. Pousse Cafe

The Pousse Café stands out as a distinctive beverage, artfully combining coconut milk, pineapple, ginger, lime juice, and agave nectar. This concoction results in a drink with a mild sweetness, making it an ideal choice for summer or any moment when a light, invigorating refreshment is desired. Its unique blend of flavors offers a delightful taste experience that’s both satisfying and refreshing.

23. Sidecar

Sidecar is a type of mixed drink that consists of a shot of liquor and a cocktail. It is created by mixing a sweetened and flavoured liqueur with orange juice, grenadine, and lemon-lime soda. This drink has been popular ever since 1920, especially among people who want to enjoy an alcoholic beverage while still being able to drive or operate heavy machinery safely.

Sidecar is traditionally served as an after-dinner drink, but it can also be served as an all-day drink during brunch or lunchtime.

24. Whiskey Sour

A whiskey sour is a cocktail made with bourbon, sugar, lemon juice, and egg white. The cocktail is traditionally served in a Collins glass. The whiskey sour is a classic drink that can be enjoyed any time of the day. It’s also an easy drink to make at home if you have the right ingredients on hand.

Bartending Tools and Equipment

There are a lot of bartending tools and equipment that you can find in the market today. It is essential to know what each of them is used for and how they can help you in your bartending experience.

These are the different types of tools and equipment that you might want to use when tending the bar.

Cocktails Every Bartender Should Know

Boston Cocktail Shaker

The Boston cocktail shaker is typically made of stainless steel or tin-plated steel with a handle on each side that can be used to shake the cocktail ingredients together.

Cobbler Shaker

A cobbler cocktail shaker is a bartending tool used to mix drinks. It consists of two parts – the base and the cap. The base is made from stainless steel or copper, while the cap can be made from wood, plastic or stainless steel. It comes in many different shapes and sizes but typically has a round bottom with two handles on either side. It is used to make shaken cocktails that are often served in a chilled martini glass.

Hawthorne Shaker

A Hawthorne shaker is an essential tool for bartenders. It helps them to mix their cocktails quickly and efficiently. It has a ball bearing that easily mixes the ingredients in the shaker, while the mesh screen prevents unwanted particles from getting into the drink. It is designed with stainless steel construction, which makes it durable and long-lasting.

Julep Strainer

The Julep Strainer was a bartender’s best friend back in the day. It revolutionised how bartenders mixed drinks by allowing them to strain their cocktails without a spoon. The tool made it easier for bartenders to mix drinks in a more efficient manner, which resulted in better-quality cocktails.

Fine Strainer

Fine strainers are used in many countries to ensure that drinks served at bars are not watered down or over-alcoholized. They work by separating floating particles from liquids such as ice cubes or fruit juices.

Bar spoon

A bar spoon is a utensil used in bartending to stir, mix or aerate drinks. It consists of a long handle with a bowl-shaped blade at the end.


The jigger is typically made of stainless steel and features two handles at the top and bottom of the cylindrical body with two capstans on either side of the head. The bottom handle can be used to mix drinks, while the top handle can be used to shake cocktails or make martinis.

Mexican Elbow

Mexican Elbow is a bartending tool that helps you to make drinks quickly and easily. The tool allows you to create cocktails without using measuring cups, shakers or mixers. It is an easy-to-use and affordable device used in bars, restaurants and home kitchens.

Juice pourers

Juice pourers help bartenders by providing a clean and easy way to pour juice from bottles into glasses or cocktails at high speed. They can also be used as an additional tool to make fruit juices or non-alcoholic cocktails.

Bar towel

A bartender must have many bar towels for drying glasses, mopping spills, cleaning surfaces, etc.

Basic Bartender Skills

Being a professional bartender requires specific skill sets. These skills are often learned by trial and error. However, bartending is also a profession that can be taught to anyone. Here are some bartending skills that every bartender must know:


Building in bartending is adding one ingredient after the other and stacking them straight into the glass, with no shaking or straining necessary. It is a drinking game typically played at home but can also be played in bars.


When you shake a cocktail, it is done to mix the ingredients and stimulate the dilution process. When you mix a cocktail, you add water, ice and other ingredients like fruit juice or egg white to the spirit base. The shaking process helps to blend these ingredients. A shaker cup is typically used for this purpose. Shaking also helps create an elegant cocktail presentation by creating a cloudy effect.


The purpose of stirring cocktails is to combine the ingredients and add enough ice to dilute the drink. This will make it easier for you to taste the cocktail and enjoy a stronger, less alcohol-heavy flavour. Stirring can also create a more uniform texture in the drink.


The word “muddle” is derived from the Old English word “mudly”, which means to mix something like mud. Many cocktail recipes call for muddling fresh fruit, herbs, or sugar with spirits. This process infuses their flavours into the drink.

It’s usually done by using the back of a spoon and pressing it into the mix. This process can take hours for some drinks. However, new technology, such as digital muddlers, allows the process to be completed in seconds.


There are many reasons why you might want to strain a cocktail. Straining removes items that can cause the drink to be cloudy or muddy, like fruit, herbs, or ice. It is essential to remove these items before serving because they can give a drink an unappealing appearance and make it taste poor.


Bartenders find that it is easier to make consistent drinks using a blender. One of the most popular trends is using blending to make smooth drinks. The cost of making cocktails can be cut in half, and the consistency is excellent.


Layering adds a different flavour to a drink to create a more complex taste. It is usually done by adding citrus, herbs, spices, etc.

The first layer is usually the base spirit of the drink. For example, if you are making a margarita, you would use tequila as your base spirit and then add lime juice, agave nectar or sugar syrup to it.

The second layer would be an ingredient that is added to change the flavour profile of the drink. For example, if you are making an Irish coffee with Bailey’s Irish Cream and espresso, it would be added at this stage.


Rolling in bartending is a process of creating drinks that are served by the bartender while they are being rolled into the glass. The most common types of rolling drinks are:

  • Rolling whiskey

  • Rolling gin and tonic

  • Rolling vodka and orange juice


  • Many skills are necessary for bartending, and with diligent practice, you can develop them to perfection.

  • Bartenders must know many drinks — being able to mix various types of cocktails and make sure that the drinks are satisfying to drinkers.

  • By knowing how to make drinks, the bartender can help set the tone for a night out and ensure everyone has a great time.

  • Having the right tools for bartending can make your job easier and faster. From jiggers to filters, there are many different types of bartending tools that can help you make cocktails quickly and effortlessly.


Do bartenders know how to make all drinks?

Most bartenders know how to make all drinks. However, they do not have the same skill sets as a mixologist. A mixologist has more knowledge and experience in creating recipes with specific ingredients. Bartenders are not only limited to making cocktails. They also know how to make different drinks with different ingredients, like fruit juices, sodas and teas.

Is it easy to become a bartender?

Becoming a bartender is not an easy job, but it does require a great deal of hard work and dedication. It can be hard to find a job specifically as a bartender because the demand for bartenders is soaring in today’s economy.

Can you become a bartender if you don’t drink?

Bartenders are often associated with alcohol, but cocktails are not the only thing bartenders make. Bartenders also set up and serve drinks, cut them on a tablet, use a cash register and more. Despite the number of jobs bartending requires, it is not difficult to work as a bartender without drinking alcohol.