Shaking it up: 5 Poker-Themed Cocktails All Bartenders Should Be Trained to Make

  • By: BT Staff
  • Date: January 20, 2024
  • Time to read: 4 min.

For many, the casino is the perfect place to unwind or to try their luck at lots of different games. A casino is a place of class, leisure, community, and well, drinks. Many casinos across the world have world-renowned bars serving up spirits, cocktails, shots, and a choice of drinks for their customers, although these will be different per country, there’s nothing like an ice-cold fruity beverage to get the winning juices flowing. 

The cocktail industry has significantly grown in the last ten years thanks to the popularity of socializing with drinks.  More and more cocktail-specific bars are popping up for those who want a unique experience whilst indulging in some new drinks. The casino industry is no exception to this, as the casino bar is a prominent place for patrons to socialize or grab a drink between the tense games of their choosing. This is why many casinos have branched out to do their own signature drinks alongside popular games.

The popularity of poker often shown in movies shows this with characters often having a drink alongside them whilst taking part in tense, high-stakes poker games in a luxurious casino setting. Recreating that luxury setting from your home is very possible with the right cocktail glass, spirits, and mixers, all whilst enjoying the convenient and relaxing atmosphere that is offered by the accessibility of online poker games. 

Whether you’re playing bartender at home and chasing the online poker real money dream, or working as a bartender making drinks for patrons at the casino bar, here are 5 must-make cocktails anyone titled ‘bartender’ should make for responsible poker game fun!

The Pokerface

No, not like the Lady Gaga song! This refreshing drink consists of 2 shots of tequila, 3 shots of sweet pineapple juice, a shot of triple sec, and a little bit of lemon. Combine and stir into a glass with ice if desired. It can be served with or without ice. For that extra flair, this cocktail should be served in a Highball glass. Although not specific to any poker game, this pineapple-based cocktail is great for a low-maintenance and responsible night-in. No cocktail shaker is required, it will take less than 5 minutes to make.

The High-Roller

High-rollers are the kings and queens of the poker industry, ruling the roost with their high bets and buy-ins, they are not to be messed with! If you’re feeling brave, have a go at this posh gin-based cocktail for a boost of confidence. For this delicious martini, combine 1½ an ounce of a Vodka of your choice, ½ an ounce of Grand Marnier, and 3 ounces of orange juice, add a dash of grenadine, and serve in an Old Fashioned Glass.

The Ante 

Sometimes at the poker table, you might be asked to ‘up the ante’ by your opponents, or in other words, raise the stakes. At the table, the ante means the equal bet players make before the first hand is dealt. As it occurs at the beginning of the game, it may be ideal to serve this as the night begins for players. To make this orangey goodness, one needs: ½ an ounce of orange liqueur, either 1-3 ounces of Apple Brandy, or alternatively. Calvados, ¾ of an ounce of Dubonnet Rouge, and a little bit of Classic Bitters. Add ice, shake, and strain before putting them into your regular cocktail glass.

Monte Carlo Cocktail

While not each cocktail has an obvious origin or backstory, the Monte Carlo Cocktail certainly does. In the playground of the rich, Monte Carlo is home to some of the most glamorous casinos in the world which were previously owned by the Grimaldi family.

The cocktail has been around for decades and is a classic among those who love to sip. This classic cocktail was first recognized in 1948 by renowned cocktail writer David Embury’s cocktail book, The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks. It is defined by some as a simple recipe, much like a Manhattan with easy ingredients. 

To be transported to Monte Carlo, this recipe requires 2 ¼ ounces of Rye Whiskey,  ½ ounce of benedictine, a dash of Angostura bitters, a dash of peychaud’s bitters, and a cherry, or a lemon peel for the garnish. Mix the ingredients in the glass and stir until thoroughly mixed, strain into a whiskey glass or cocktail glass depending on preference and then add the chosen fruit garnish.

Vesper Martini

Okay, so it is technically not poker-themed so much as it is casino-themed. Made famous by Daniel Craig’s 2008 Casino Royale James Bond film. Author Ian Fleming who wrote the Bond books is credited with popularising the drink in his Casino Royale novel in which our favorite agent cleverly coins the cocktail name. Bond gives his recipe to a bartender in the book to make. However, Fleming actually credited his friend, author Ivar Byrce for actually inventing and mixing the cocktail in real life as a dedication in the book.

To make this shaken, not stirred masterpiece, the ingredients needed are: 3 ounces of preferred gin (Gordon’s is accurate to Bond’s recipe,) 1 ounce of vodka, ½ an ounce of Lillet blanc aperitif, and garnish with a lemon. Gin, vodka, and Lillbet blanc should be added to a cocktail shaker with ice, then shaken and drained into a chill cocktail glass. Juice from the lemon can then be rubbed along the rim of the cocktail glass and served promptly.

Even just studying the familiar spirits that are used in casino bars is an accurate way to find the base for a new, innovative cocktail. Whatever a person’s tastes are, many spirits and juices are perfect for balancing flavors to create the perfect cocktail for a responsible poker night at home.