Whether you’re a professional bartender or an amateur cocktail maker, understanding different types of mixology is essential for expanding your knowledge and skills. In this blog post, we will discuss the different types of mixology that you should know.
Mixology is the art and science of creating and mixing cocktails. They use a combination of ingredients, tools and techniques to craft delicious and visually appealing drinks tailored to the customers’ preferences. The goal of mixology is to create a balance of flavours and to present a drink in a way that is both visually pleasing and enjoyable to drink.
Know When To Shake, Stir and Blend Them
To master the art of mixology, bartenders must become familiar with the three classic cocktail-making techniques used to combine ingredients in a cocktail: stirring, shaking, and blending, as well as muddling.
Stirring is mixing ingredients together in a circular motion using a long-handled spoon or a bar spoon. It is typically used for drinks that include clear liquids, such as a Martini or Manhattan. Stirring is a gentle technique that helps to keep the drink clear and prevents it from becoming cloudy or frothy.
Shaking is a technique that uses a cocktail shaker to mix ingredients together. The ingredients are placed in the shaker with ice, and the shaker is then vigorously shaken to chill and mix the ingredients. This technique is typically used for drinks that include citrus juices, syrups, or egg whites as ingredients. The shaking action helps to create a frothy and creamy texture in the drink.
Blending is a technique used to blend ingredients together in a blender. This technique is typically used for drinks that include fruits, ice, or other ingredients that need to be smooth and creamy. For example, a blender is commonly used to make a frozen Margarita or Pina Colada.
Muddling is used to make cocktails with fresh ingredients such as mint, basil, or berries. This is typically done using a muddler, a tool designed to crush ingredients gently and calmly. The process of muddling helps to release the essential oils and flavours of the ingredients, which in turn enhances the overall taste and aroma of cocktails like Mojitos, Caipirinhas, or Old Fashioned.
It’s important to note that different cocktails require different techniques. The choice of technique should be based on the ingredients, the desired texture, and the final presentation of the drink.
While on the topic of mixing your drink, be careful to avoid bruising your ingredients.
Essential Cocktails You Should Know
If you’re new to the world of cocktails, a great place to start is by trying some of the most popular cocktails.
Each year Drinks International puts out a list of the 50 top-selling cocktails worldwide. From the 2022 list, check this list out for some up-and-comers customers might ask you to make.
- Martini: A classic cocktail made with gin or vodka and dry vermouth, typically garnished with an olive or a twist of lemon.
- Old Fashioned: A traditional cocktail made with whiskey, sugar, bitters, and a twist of orange or lemon.
- Manhattan: A classic cocktail made with whiskey, sweet vermouth, and bitters, typically garnished with a cherry.
- Margarita: A popular cocktail made with tequila, lime juice, and orange liqueur, typically served in a salt-rimmed glass.
- Daiquiri: A classic cocktail made with rum, lime juice, and sugar, typically served in a chilled glass.
- Negroni: A classic cocktail made with gin, sweet vermouth, and Campari, typically garnished with an orange peel.
- Bloody Mary: A popular cocktail made with vodka, tomato juice, and various spices and garnishes such as celery, horseradish, and Worcestershire sauce. Closely related to the Ceasar, popular in Canada.
- Whiskey Sour: A classic cocktail made with whiskey, lemon juice, and sugar, typically garnished with a cherry or a slice of lemon.
- Cosmopolitan: A popular cocktail made with vodka, orange liqueur, cranberry juice, and lime juice, typically served in a chilled glass.
- Mai Tai: A classic Tiki cocktail made with rum, lime juice, orange curaçao, and Orgeat (or almond) syrup and served over crushed ice, typically garnished with a cherry and mint leaves.
- Moscow Mule: A popular cocktail made with vodka, ginger beer, and lime juice, typically served in a copper mug.
- Espresso Martini: A popular cocktail made with espresso, vodka, and a sweet liqueur, typically served in a chilled glass.
- Mojito: A classic cocktail made with rum, lime juice, sugar, mint leaves, and soda water, typically served in a highball glass.
Along with these ever-popular cocktails, customers might ask you for a “dirty” martini, or a drink served “neat”. Here are some of the terms you should also know:
For customers, when ordering a cocktail, being familiar with a few key terms will help you communicate your preferences to the bartender.
- “Shaken” or “Stirred”: This refers to the method of mixing the ingredients of the cocktail. “Shaken” means the ingredients are combined in a cocktail shaker and agitated to create a frothy texture, while “Stirred” means the ingredients are combined in a glass or pitcher and gently stirred to create a smooth texture.
- “Up” or “On the rocks” refers to how the cocktail is served. “Up” means the cocktail is served chilled and without ice, while “On the rocks” means the cocktail is served over ice.
- “Neat” or “Straight up” refers to how the spirit is served. “Neat” means the spirit is served at room temperature, without ice or mixers, while “Straight up” means the spirit is served chilled, without ice or mixers.
- “Fruit-forward” or “Spirit-forward” refers to the balance of flavours in the cocktail. “Fruit-forward” means the cocktail has more fruit flavours and less spirit, while “Spirit-forward” means more spirit flavours and less fruit.
- “Dry” or “Sweet” refers to the cocktail’s sweetness. “Dry” means the cocktail has less sweetness and more acidity, while “Sweet” means more sweetness and less acidity.
- “Dirty” refers to a Martini variation, which includes a splash of olive brine or juice. This adds a salty and savoury flavour to the drink.
- “Rimmed” or “Rimmed with salt”: This refers to if the rim of the glass is dipped in salt, sugar or other ingredients,
Cocktails can be divided into a few categories, such as Sours, Fizz, Old-Fashioned, and Three-parters, or by when they were invented.
Cocktails By Ingredients
Sours, Fizz, Old-Fashioned, and Three-parters are different types of cocktails with distinct characteristics and ingredients.
Sours cocktails are typically made with a base spirit, citrus juice, and a sweetener. Examples include the Whiskey Sour, Margarita, and Daiquiri.
Fizz or Collins
Fizz cocktails are typically made with a base spirit, citrus juice, sweetener, and carbonated water. Examples include Gin Fizz and Tom Collins.
Old-Fashioned or Lowball
Old-Fashioned cocktails are typically made with a base spirit, sugar, bitters, and a splash of water or soda. Examples include the Old-Fashioned, and Manhattan.
Three-parters cocktails are typically made with three ingredients, a base spirit, a modifier, and a dilution. Examples include the Martini and Negroni.
Each type of cocktail has a unique taste and presentation; the choice will often depend on the occasion and the customer’s preferences.
Cocktails By Age
Another way of grouping cocktails is by dividing them by their history.
Classic cocktails are traditional drinks that have stood the test of time and are considered the foundations of mixology.
Examples of classic cocktails include the Martini, Old Fashioned, and Manhattan. These drinks are characterized by their simplicity and balance of flavours, using only a few ingredients and techniques.
To be a skilled mixologist, you must master the classics. This means understanding the history and origins of each drink, as well as the proper techniques for creating them.
Tiki cocktails originated in the 1930s, with the opening of the first tiki bar in Hollywood, California.
In recent years, the popularity of tiki cocktails has been on the rise, especially among hipster enthusiasts such as Vancouver’s “Tiki Bar TV.“
These drinks are characterized by their tropical flavours and use of exotic ingredients, such as pineapple, coconut, and rum. Examples of tiki cocktails include the Mai Tai, Zombie, and Pina Colada.
Tiki cocktails are perfect for summer parties and outdoor events and a great way to add fun and flair to your cocktail-making.
Modern cocktails are another important type of mixology to know. Modern cocktails, also known as contemporary cocktails, are drinks created in recent years and are not considered traditional. Examples of modern cocktails include the Margarita, Cosmopolitan, and French Martini.
These drinks are characterized by using new and innovative ingredients and techniques. To create modern cocktails, mixologists must have a good understanding of the latest trends and be able to think outside the box.
Another important aspect of mixology is molecular mixology. Molecular mixology uses scientific techniques to create unique and innovative drinks.
Techniques such as foaming, spherification, and smoking are used to create a new sensory experience for the consumer.
Molecular mixology can be used to create visually appealing and Instagram-worthy drinks, but it is important to keep in mind that the taste should always come first.
Many different types of glassware are used for serving cocktails, each with its unique purpose and design. Some examples include:
- Martini Glass: A tall, V-shaped glass with a stem, typically used for serving Martinis and other cocktails that are served chilled and straight up.
- Old Fashioned Glass: A short, wide glass with a thick base, typically used for serving Old Fashioned cocktails and other drinks served over ice.
- Collins Glass: A tall, narrow glass with a straight shape, typically used for serving Collins cocktails, Tom Collins, and other drinks that are served over ice and include carbonated water.
- Highball Glass: A tall, narrow glass with a straight shape, typically used for serving highball cocktails, such as a Whiskey Sour, and other drinks that are served over ice and include a mixer.
- Hurricane Glass: A tall, curvy glass with a wide opening, typically used for serving Tiki cocktails, such as Mai Tai, and other tropical drinks served over crushed ice.
- Margarita Glass: A curved glass with a stem and a wide rim, typically used for serving Margaritas and other cocktails that are served chilled and in a salt-rimmed glass.
Bartending Tools Used for Making Cocktails
Bartenders use various tools to make cocktails, each with its specific purpose. Here are a few examples:
- Jigger: A small measuring cup used to measure precise amounts of ingredients. It usually comes in two sides, one with a smaller and one with a larger measurement.
- Shaker: A container with a lid used to combine and agitate ingredients, typically used for shaken cocktails.
- Cocktail Strainer: Used to strain ice and other ingredients from a cocktail as it is poured into a glass. There are two main types: the Hawthorne and the Julep. The Hawthorne Strainer is designed with a spring-loaded mechanism that fits snugly around the top of a mixing tin, while a Julep is designed to fit neatly into a mixing glass. See this article for when to use a Hawthorne or Julep strainer.
- Muddler: A thick, hardwood dowel with a flat bottom used to mash and mix ingredients, typically used for muddled cocktails such as the mojito or Old-Fashioned.
- Mixing Glass: A glass container used to mix ingredients, typically used for stirred cocktails.
- Bar Spoon: A long-handled spoon used to stir ingredients, typically used for stirred cocktails.
- Peeler: A tool used to peel the skin of fruits, typically used for citrus fruits.
- Zester: A tool used to zest or remove the outer layer of citrus fruits, typically used for citrus fruits.
- Citrus Juicer: A tool used to extract juice from citrus fruits, typically used for citrus fruits.
- Ice Tongs: A tool used to handle ice. For sanitary reasons, don’t pick ice cubes up by hand.
While you’ll have these at most bars, for a home bar, you should have some kitchen tools such as a small cutting board and a knife, an ice bag and a mallet to break up ice cubes for colder drinks.
In conclusion, understanding different types of mixology are essential for any professional or amateur bartender and cocktail-maker. It allows them to expand their knowledge and skills to create a wide range of drinks that cater to different tastes and preferences.
Whether creating classic cocktails, tiki cocktails, modern cocktails, or experimenting with molecular mixology, it’s important always to put taste first and have fun with your creations.
To further your knowledge of mixology, we recommend checking out books and blogs on the subject, taking classes, and experimenting with different ingredients and techniques.
With a little knowledge and creativity, you’ll be able to impress your friends and family with your mixology skills in no time!
Interested in more bar terminology? We have a full article on bartending lingo here.