The best cocktails. Cocktails and Mixes
The best cocktails
The best cocktails
The best cocktails

Classification of Cocktails

We can meet with cocktails: Appetizers (citrus), Gastrointestinal (sweet and short), Restorative (nutrients), In the afternoon, drinks (alcoholic fruit juices).

The ornament

The ornament is the detail with which presents a cocktail, despite being edible no influence on the taste thereof. Such as the slice of lemon on the edge of a glass of Caipirinha.


The cocktails can be prepared by different processes: Built (direct), Effervescence, Flambé, Smoothies, Mixeología, macerated, Frozzen, Removed.


The decoration of the cocktails should be stimulating and engaging, never extravagant. In general, refreshing cocktails based on fruits allow more decorative than other types of drinks. The decor is a non-edible ornament which does not affect the flavor of the cocktail

Do the cocktails without haste.

Remember to make cocktails with care and without haste, the results will be better.

Will Liquor Freeze?

Question: Will Liquor Freeze?
Answer: It is one of the most common questions and debates about alcoholic beverages... Does liquor freeze? Yes it does, but the freezing point is far below that of water. Exactly what that freezing point is depends on the proof of the liquor.
Water freezes at 0°C (32°F) and the freezing point of ethanol alcohol is -114°C (-173.2°F). Alcoholic beverages are a mixture of both alcohol and water (with sugars and other additives in some distilled spirits) so the freezing point of all of you alcoholic beverages is somewhere in between. The exact freezing point of vodka, gin, tequila, rum, whiskey and the myriad of liqueurs is dependent on its proof, or alcohol per volume. The lower the proof, the warmer the freezing point: the higher the proof, the colder the freezing point.
For example:
  • 24 proof liquor freezes at -6.7°C (20°F)
  • 64 proof liquor freezes at -23.33°C (-10°F)
  • 84 proof liquor freezes at -34.44°C (-30°F)
These freezing points are much colder than the average home freezer will reach, so chilling a bottle in the freezer should not freeze the liquor inside. However, your freezer could get cold enough to freeze low proof liqueurs, beer and malt beverages. These low proof beverages will get slushy, and eventually freeze, if left in the freezer for too long and can explode leaving a big, frozen mess if it gets too cold

The Importance of Ice and the Best Way to Use Ice in Its Many Forms

Ice is Important:

Cocktails and mixed drinks would be no where without ice. Think about it - this is the one ingredient universal to almost every cocktail made (with the obvious exception of hot drinks and a few cocktails like the Champagne Cocktail). Ice not only chills drinks , but as it melts or is shaken it becomes a part of the mix and because of this, the frozen water deserves more than a little attention.

Forms of Ice:

There are four basic types, or forms, of ice (cube, cracked, shaved and block) and each have their uses. In Imbibe! David Wondrich quotes Jerry Thomas' 19th Century rules for using each, and these are still somewhat relevant in modern mixology. Thomas says: "As a general rule, shave ice should be used when spirits form the principal ingredient of the drink, and no water is employed. When eggs, mild, wine, vermouth, seltzer or other mineral waters are is better to use small lumps of ice..." This is still sound advice but let's break it down for modern ice forms.

Ice Cubes:

Ice cubes are good for almost all mixing: for shaking, stirring, drinks on the rocks, or with juices and sodas. The larger, thicker surface area makes a cube melt slowly and causes less dilution and it is customary to fill a glass or shaker 2/3 full for best results. With the help of a Lewis bag, similar canvas sack or a clean towel, cubes can also be pounded into cracked or crushed pieces. The only other thing you need for this is a blunt object (ie. hammer, mallet, muddler) and some unwanted frustration that needs to get out. It's a little bit of work but quite therapeutic.

Cracked Ice:

Smaller than cubes, cracked ice melts faster and adds more water to drinks. Usually this is used when making frozen drinks because cubes can clog blender blade and be inconsistent in the end. Two-thirds to one cup of cracked ice is perfect for a single frozen Daiquiri or Margarita. Typically bagged ice from the store is cracked.

Shaved Ice:

Crushed or shaved ice is what you typically find in fountain soda machines. This is a very fine ice that can be used in a shaker to produce a thick, slurry of a cocktail. You can also use it to make an "adult snow cone" of sorts by packing shaved ice in a glass (or paper cone if you want to get "authentic") and pouring liqueurs over the top. Spirits like Chambord, PAMA and amaretto are great alone or you can build a custom flavor by combining a few.

Block Ice:

Back in the day all ice bartenders used started as a block and it was up to the individual and their ice tools to create smaller, usable chunks and shavings for mixing. Luckily, we don't have to use picks and shavers anymore. Today blocks are primarily used for chilling party punches and can take any form you want. Rings are popular and there are many novelty molds available but you can also use almost any container you have available as long as you can remove the solid ice.

Ice Ball:

Another large chunk of ice that is becoming more popular is the ice ball, which is commonly used in Japan for serving "whiskey on the rocks." Learn more about the ice ball and how to make one.

Making the Best Ice:

Basic science says that ice is water in a solid form and given that, it only stands to reason that cleaner water produces cleaner ice, which will add water to your cocktails in the end. Start off right by freezing water that you would drink: distilled, purified, natural spring or bottled, essentially anything but unfiltered tap water. Keep your ice fresh by rotating the newer and older cubed. Avoid storing it in the freezer near foods like fish or anything else you don't want to taste in your next Highball.

At home ice cube trays are perfect for the nightly round of drinks. I keep a few trays full at any given time and have a regular rotation to keep all of them fresh. One-inch cube trays are ideal.
Many refrigerators are equipped with an ice maker which produces cubed, cracked or even shaved ice and are very convenient. If you rely on this and your cubes are caught in a bucket or tray automatically, be sure to rotate the ice so you have the fresher cubes available on top. Also, you may want to consider the extra energy an internal ice maker uses (see Eco-Friendly Bartending for tips).
Ice can be stored for easy access during a party in an ice bucket. These are usually insulated and will keep ice from melting quickly.

If you like, you may also want to infuse your ice. This is a simple way to add subtle amounts of flavor to drinks. One example is the rosemary-infused ice used in this Rosemary Lemonade recipe.

5 Steps to Better Cocktails

Do you ever wonder why your cocktails don't taste like the pro's drinks? Sometimes it is the little things that can make the difference between a great cocktail, a mediocre one and one that gets spit into the sink. If you pay attention to the world's best bartenders you will notice that there are a few steps they take when making almost any cocktail that add that "WOW" factor to the drink. If you were to follow these five easy steps every time you shake or stir your favorite drinks you will soon find that the quality of your cocktails is improving.

1. Upgrade Your Liquor Cabinet


There is a significant difference between the distilled spirits on the top shelf and the bottom shelf of the liquor store. Your drinks will reflect the quality of their ingredients and, because liquor is typically the strongest ingredient in a drink, it is important to spend a little extra money on quality. A Martini made with a 5 dollar bottle of gin is going to be disappointing compared to one made with a 40 dollar bottle of gin. That doesn't mean that you have to spend a fortune every time you go to the liquor store. There are very good mid-range brands available that are perfect for "everyday" mixing that cost around $20-30 a bottle. This simple upgrade will start your cocktails off on the right foot.

2. Use Fresh Ingredients


Whenever possible choose fresh instead of canned or bottled ingredients for your cocktails. This primarily refers to fruit juices but can also be applied to other mixers such as using a soda siphon as opposed to buying bottled soda water or club soda and making your own simple syrup, sour mix or grenadine. With fruits the answer can be as simple as squeezing lemons, limes and oranges with a hand juicer or getting an electric juicer to make fresh apple, cranberry, pear or any other type of fresh fruit juice. Many of the bottled mixers will include unwanted additives that take away from the freshness of the cocktail.

3. Match the Drink and Glass Temperature


This seems like a simple, possibly unnecessary, step to mixing drinks but it makes a world of difference. When you are serving cold drinks, chilling the glass before pouring will keep the drink colder longer and the experience of drinking is better from beginning to end. This can be as simple as placing a glass in the freezer for a minute or pouring cold water or ice in the glass while you shake and dumping it out before the pour. The same theory applies to warm drinks. If you are making a Hot Toddy, warm up the glass before hand by pouring some hot water inside while you're preparing the ingredients. Nothing ruins a drink worse than getting to the bottom and a cold drink is warm or a warm drink is cold and this simple step can stop that.

4. Use Garnishes When Appropriate


Not every cocktail needs to be garnished but those that do call for a lemon, lime, orange or whatever depend on that addition for flavor and balance. Garnishes also complete the drink's presentation. For instance, a Gin and Tonic without the lime is missing that essential, subtle citrus and a Martini without the olives lacks the soft brine flavor that infuses the drink. Garnishes are important and even if their absence doesn't ruin the finished drink, it certainly is not enhancing it like it was designed to do.

5. Measure Everything

The importance of measuring cocktail ingredients cannot be stressed enough if your desire is to create great tasting drinks consistently. Many people skip this step because it's time consuming or because they like the show of a free pour. Granted, many bartenders who work in busy establishments rarely touch a jigger, but they also pour a lot of drinks and know the timing needed to pour a shot. Measuring ensures that you are creating the cocktail in the way it was meant to be and an over or under pour of a single ingredient can throw off the delicate balance of a drink. Also, if you are drinking and mixing, your perception of measuring can be thrown off.

How to become a Distiller

With the explosion of the craft distilling movement in the United States, one of the biggest challenges to the industry is the lack of good quality training at an affordable cost here in the United States. Too many people purchase a still and set out to make whiskey when they lack the skills and expertise to properly distill. The resulting whiskies from amateur distillers are full of tails, off flavors and other flaws that could easily be rectified through quality instruction.

Luckily, two of America's premier craft distillers, Don Poffenroth and Kent Fleischmann, along with their assistant Patrick Donovan offer a one week intensive course on craft distilling at Dry Fly Distillery in beautiful Spokane, Washington.

Dry Fly is one of the true craft distillers in America, eschewing the common craft distilling practice of rectifying purchased neutral grain spirits and instead crafting all of their current product line from Washington state wheat grown on one farm. A visit to Dry Fly reveals large, 1500 pound bags of wheat inside the distillery and you can literally watch as they mill the grain down into a rough flour, ferment the mash and then finally distill. The results are remarkable and give all of Dry Fly spirits a unique sense of place, something the French call terroir. Additionally, this is a distillery that uses high quality German stills and refuses to cut any corners in the production of their spirits.

Attendees of Dry Fly Distilling School will find a hands on experience devoted to actually learning and producing distilled spirits and the sensory evaluation necessary to understand a flawed product. Beyond distilling, other vital aspects of craft distilling such as business planning, tasting room operation, and sales and marketing of small production spirits are covered in depth.

I've personally seen and toured a number of craft distillers and I'm regularly approached by people interested in becoming craft distillers. After spending time at Dry Fly and meeting Kent, Don and Patrick, I can highly recommend Dry Fly Distilling School to anyone interested in becoming a distiller. If there is a better training program for distillers in the United States, I'm not aware of it. Dry Fly and their Distilling School simply are the industry standard for craft distilling instruction in the United States and North America. If you wish to learn this craft, choose the best, choose Dry Fly.

Whiskey (Whisky) Wisdom

The world of whiskey is a complex maze of grains, flavors and distillation processes. Four countries produce distinctly different whiskies: Ireland (Irish Whiskey), Scotland (Scotch), America (Bourbon, Tennessee Whiskey, Rye Whiskey, Blended American Whiskey), and Canada (Canadian Whiskey), although whiskey is made throughout the world. This wide market ensures that almost everyone will find a brand or type that they prefer and, when asked, every whiskey connoisseur has a pointed opinion on which is the best whiskey.
Irish Whiskey:
Considered to be the father of all whiskey, Irish Whiskey is often a blend of pot-stilled malted and unmalted whiskey and column-stilled corn-based grain whiskey or, as in the case of Bushmills, triple distilled malted barley (single malt). This complex blend and the fact that Irish Whiskey malt is dried in a closed kiln, away from fire and smoke, distinguish it from its closest whiskey cousin, Scotch. Great care is taken during distillation to keep the temperature low so as not to break the delicate sweet, toasty honey flavor. It is aged in used bourbon (or various wine) barrels for at least 3 years.
  • More About Irish Whiskey
  • The History of Irish Whiskey
Scotch Whisky:
By tradition and standard, Scotch Whisky uses the spelling for whisky without the "e". The distinct smoky flavor of this distilled classic is due to the malt drying process. Part of which is done over a peat-fueled fire, which allows the smoke to come in direct contact with the malt. Although smoke does define Scotch, each region of Scotland produces a different and distinct flavor characteristics. When choosing a Scotch you will find either "single malt" or "blended" on the label along with an age statement. In the case of blended, the age is that of the youngest whiskey in the blend.
  • Single-Malt Scotch Whisky
    Single-malt Scotch is produced by a single distillery. There are around 100 distilleries in Scotland that produce a single-malt whisky and each has their own distinct flavor characteristics and notes. After double distilling the malted barley in pot stills, a 140 proof spirit called "plain British spirit" is pumped into oak casks and is aged for at least 3 years. Single malt Scotch whiskies have more flavor blended Scotch and are also used to create those blends.
  • Blended Scotch Whisky
    The majority of Scotch sold is blended and it is preferred for Scotch cocktails. The harsher tones of single-malts are dampened by blending them with grain whiskies in a cask for several months after each has been aged separately. Scotch blends are an art and each Scotch house has it's own secret recipe. While exact blends are unknown it is typical for 20-25 whiskies to be used in a blend with around 20-50% of those comprised of single malt whiskies. The higher end blended Scotch will have more single malt which leads to a deeper flavor. Blending Scotch is an art and some brands (i.e. Compass Box) focus on this.
How Smoky is Scotch?
I attended a tasting and blending seminar with Johnnie Walker's Master Blender, Andrew Ford, and in that experience we sampled a variety single malt Scotch from the different regions of Scotland, along some of the country's grain whiskey. Listed below are the different varieties ranked by their level of smokiness from least to greatest. In a good blended Scotch you will probably find a myriad of these flavor characteristics, and you can use this to gauge your personal taste when choosing a single malt Scotch. Of course, each distillery within a region will produce whiskies within a range of smokiness because it is the amount of peat used to "smoke" the barley that truly determines how much of that characteristic comes through, those below are generalities. More about Scotch Whisky Regions
  • Grain Whiskey - Light, vanilla notes and not much flavor. The blender often uses around 50% of this aged whiskey (at least as old as the bottle's label indicates) distilled in continuous column stills to add sweetness and drinkability to the single malts.
  • Lowland Malt - A light flavor with a touch of smoke that takes a well-tuned pallate to recognize. Typically aged in used bourbon barrels, this Scotch has sweet vanilla characteristics
  • Speyside Malt - This style remains light, but has fruity notes - that of apple and pear - with grassy tones and little to no smokiness. The fruit tones are sometimes imparted from aging in used Scotch casks, or "refill" casks, and forms a nice background for blends.
  • Sherry Cask Malt - Due to this whiskey's aging in used sherry casks this style is fruiter, but finds a balance with a slightly more intense smoke. It is a long lasting, dry fruit with a rich, full body.
  • Highland Malt - Now we're getting some smoke. This Scotch is characteristically warm and robust, and the location of the distilleries add a salty, "maritime" flavor aspect to the whiskey.
  • Island Malt - Ford calls this amount of smoke "Johnnie Walker Black Label territory." It has a hearty peat and is considerably smoky although within reason. The finish is most remarkable with notes of pepper.
  • Islay Malt - Although this usually the lightest single malt in color because it is often aged in refill casks. Islay's are famous for their smoke, especially their ember-like finish that some pallates can handle and some cannot. It is very warm and intensely smoky with a dry finish. More about Islay Scotch

A Guide to Popular Vodka Brands

Choosing the right brand of vodka can be a difficult on because cost, taste, and intended use are important factors we consider. Less expensive brands will generally be hotter and burn in the mouth, these are good for a tight budget or for cocktails with flavorful mixers like a Sex on the Beach. Premium and Super-Premium brands are going to be excellent choices for sipping and light drinks such as Vodka Martinis. Here some popular brands of vodka...
Not all brands are listed and price points are based on an average, dependent on particular markets.

Let's Get Cheap - Vodkas Around $10


  • Denaka - Denmark
  • KU:L - Poland
  • Luksusowa - Poland (potato)
  • Olifant - Holland
  • Seagrams - US
  • Smirnoff - US
  • Svedka - Sweden
  • UV - US
Top Picks for Best Cheap Vodka

Favorite Brands for a Good Price - Vodkas Around $20

  • 1.0.1 Vodka - US
  • Absolut - Sweden
  • ClearHeart - US
  • Blue Ice - US (potato)
  • Finlandia - Finland
  • Prairie Organic - US
  • Reyka - Iceland
  • Skyy - US
  • Stolichnaya - Russia
  • Sonnema VodkaHERB - Holland
  • Tanqueray Sterling - England

This is Where it Starts Getting Really Good - Vodkas Around $30


  • 360 Vodka - US
  • 42 Below - New Zealand
  • Blavod - England (black)
  • Bong Vodka - Holland
  • Cape North - France
  • Belvedere- Poland
  • Charbay - United States
  • Chopin - Poland (potato)
  • Christiania - Norway
  • Emperor Vodka - France
  • Grey Goose - France
  • Han Asian Vodka - Asia (rice & barley)
  • Herb's Aromatic - US (herbal infusions)
  • Imperial - France
  • IS Vodka - England
  • Jett - France (energy)
  • Ketel One - Netherlands
  • Oval - Austria
  • Square One Organic - US
  • Three Olives - England
  • Trump - Holland
  • Van Gogh Vodka - Holland
  • Versailles King's - France
  • Winter Palace - France
  • Zygo - (energy)
  • Zyr - Russia

A Touch of Luxury - Vodkas Over $40


  • IDOL - France (grapes)
  • IS - England
  • Stoli Elit - Russia
  • Tru Organic - US

A Guide to Popular Tequila Brands

Like all liquors, tequila varies greatly from brand to brand. First you have to choose the tipo, then mixto vs. 100% agave, beyond that it's a price and taste issue. The brands listed below are meant as a representation of the tequila market and as you can see, the prices can vary greatly. General rule is that the higher the price, the higher the quality. Yet it is all a matter of taste. Recommend your favorite tequila.
Here some popular brands of tequila...
Not all brands are listed and price points are based on an average, dependent on particular markets.
Tequila Reviews

Tequila Blanco (Silver)


Under $20
  • El Jimador Blanco
  • Jose Cuervo Clasico Silver
  • Juarez Silver
  • Margaritaville White
  • Puerto Vallarta Blanco
  • Sauza Silver
  • Tarantula Plata
$20-30 Range
  • 1800 Select Silver
  • 1921 Tequila Blanco
  • Cazadores Blanco
  • Corazon Blanco
  • Corralejo Blanco
  • Dos Manos Blanco
  • Herradura Blanco
  • Milagro Silver
  • Sauza Tres Generaciones Plata
  • Siembra Azul Blanco
$40-50 Range
  • 4 Copas Blanco
  • 7 Leguas Blanco
  • Cabo Wabo Blanco
  • Chinaco Blanco
  • Don Eduardo Silver
  • Don Fulano Suave
  • Don Julio Blanco
  • Dos Lunas Silver
  • Gran Centenario Plata
  • Herencia Mexicana
  • Oro Azul Blanco
  • Partido Blanco
  • Patron Silver
  • Tesoro Silver
  • Tezon Blanco
  • Trago Silver
$60 and Up
  • Comisario Blanco
  • El Conde Azul Blanco
  • Maracame Gran Platino
  • Milagro Romance

Tequila Reposado


Under $30
  • 1800 Reposado
  • Calende Reposado
  • Dos Manos Reposado
  • El Ultimo Agave Reposado
  • Real Hacienda Reposado
  • Sauza Hacienda Reposado
  • Sauza 100 Anos Reposado
  • Tarantula Reposado
  • Tevado Reposado
  • Tequila 30-30 Especial Reposado
$30-40 Range
  • Cuervo Tradicional Reposado
  • El Tesoro Reposado
  • Herradura Reposado
  • Oro Azul Reposado
  • Mapilli Reposado
  • Siembra Azul Reposado
  • Tequila el Mayor Reposado
$50-60 Range
  • 7 Leguas Reposado
  • Cabo Wabo Reposado
  • Casa Noble Reposado
  • Don Julio Reposado
  • Dos Lunas Reposado
  • Patron Reposado
  • Trago Reposado
  • Voodoo Tiki Reposado
$70 and Up
  • Tezon Reposado
  • Dona Carlota Reposado
  • Clase Azul Reposado
  • Penca Azul Reposado

Tequila Añejo


Under $40
  • 1800 Añejo
  • Amate Anejo
  • Don Agustin Añejo
  • Jose Cuervo Black Medallion
  • Puerto Vallarta Anejo
  • Sauza Conmemorativo Anejo
$40-50 Range
  • Sauza Tres Generaciones Añejo
  • Siembra Azul Anejo
$60-80 Range
  • Cabo Wabo Añejo
  • Chinaco Añejo
  • Don Julio Anejo
  • Don Eduardo Añejo
  • Dos Lunas Añejo
  • Maestro Dobel Diamond
  • Mi Tierra Añejo
  • Patron Añejo
  • Tezon Añejo
  • Trago Añejo
  • Voodoo Tiki Anejo
$90 and Up
  • Casa Noble Extra Aged Añejo
  • Cuervo La Reserva
  • Don Julio 1942
  • Don Julio Extra Anejo
  • Rey Sol

Tequila Joven (Gold)

Under $20
  • Antano Gold
  • Jose Cuervo Especial Gold
  • Margaritaville Gold
  • Montezuma Gold
  • Olmeca Gold
  • Pepe Lopez Gold
  • Sauza Extra Gold
  • Two Fingers Gold
$30-40 Range
  • Herradura Gold Reposado
  • Zafarrancho Gold
$50 and Up
  • Chinaco Reposado Artisan Gold
  • Los Azulejos Gold


Under $20
  • Gusano Rojo
  • Hacienda de Chihuahua Plata
  • Monte Alban
  • Zacatecano Reposado
$30-40 Range
  • Embajador Silver
  • Hacienda de Chihuahua Anejo
  • Scorpion Añejo
  • Talapa Reposado
$50 and Up
  • Embajador 5 year
  • Del Maguey
Luxury at over $100
  • Del Maguey Pechuga
  • Scorpion Anejo 7 year