Cocktail Mixing Terms

Cocktail Mixing Terms

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Learn the ins and outs of cocktail making by first getting to grips with what these industry standard terms mean.




To build a drink is to combine the ingredients in the glass in which it will be served.  Often the simplest and quickest method of making a cocktail usually requiring nothing more than stirring to combine the ingredients.




To blend a drink, you would add the ingredients indicated to the blender and put enough cubed ice in the blender to be slightly higher than the liquid level of the ingredients.  Blend until a smooth and even consistency is achieved.  Add more ice for a thicker consistency and blend until smooth.  You can also use crushed ice for blending.  This may be easier on non professional blades.  Always start the blades on a slow speed and work up to a faster speed.




Usually confined to types of glasses that do not usually have ice in the drink when served, such as the martini glass or champagne flute.  Fill with ice and pour in fresh tap water or soda water.  This ensures that the glass will be chilled by the time the drink is prepared and ready to be put in the glass.  Always chill the glass before starting to prepare the drink as this takes a minute or two.  Be aware only to touch the glass by the stem so as not to pass any warmth from your fingers to the part of the glass that the chilled drink will be in.




Layering is a particular way of building a drink.  Each ingredient must be poured carefully either on to the side of an angled glass or spoon.  Twisted bar spoon is the bartenders favourite as you can pour the ingredient down the handle of the spoon with the base of the spoon sitting just on the liquid in the glass.  As long as the two liquids are of different densities, they should stay separate.  Baileys is a favourite for layering as it usually sits on top of most spirits without sinking.




Muddling is where fruit is crushed to release juices and oils to enhance a drink.  Similar to a pestle and mortar, muddles are usually wooden, or plastic as muddling usually takes place in the Boston glass or the glass in which the drink will be served.




Where the ingredients are mixed together with ice and shaken hard.  This will chill, dilute and mix the drink, ensuring that it is served the way it was supposed to be served.




Some cocktails call for ingredients just to be stirred. This too will chill and dilute the drink, but will not dilute the drink as much as shaking.  It will also not put air through the drink which can bring out more flavours or open up the senses.  Depending on the drink and personal preference, stirring and shaking is usually down to tradition and style.  E.g. the martini ‘should’ be stirred, but some prefer it to be shaken.




After shaking a cocktail, you would strain the contents with a hawthorn strainer to hold back the ice and any fruit that was used to shake the drink



Double Strain

when pouring a cocktail that is not served with ice (such as a dry martini) double straining uses a fine strainer as well as the hawthorn strainer to catch any pulp from squeezed fruit as well as tiny ice chips that have broken off while shaking.  These are not good to look at on the surface of a cocktail, and so we prevent this by double straining.