Cocktail Making at Home: A Crash Course

June 16, 2022

While being able to whip up a whiskey sour on the spot might sound like a useful party trick, cocktail making can get complicated. Without proper preparation, many people find themselves under-researching and overbuying. Our bartender services near me give you the basics on what to know and what to grab before building your home bar.

Typical Terms

As a budding bartender, you’re bound to come across some words you may be unfamiliar with. These technical terms will show up again and again, so it’s important to know them when you see them! From our bartender services near me, here’s the vernacular you should know. Master these, and you’ll feel like an alcohol aficionado in no time!

  • Cocktail-any drink containing vodka, whiskey, gin, or brandy with other ingredients like juice, garnishes, and fruits
  • On the rocks-any drink served over ice
  • Neat-any drink served without any additional ingredients, not even ice
  • Mixer-any non-alcoholic liquid you mix with a drink (juice, sodas, water, etc)
  • Shaken-when a drink is shaken and mixed together using a shaker. Shaking a drink is done to get it as cold as possible while also diluting it and is typically done with drinks that contain dairy, citrus juices, or cream
  • Stirred-when a drink is prepared by stirring; drinks that are stirred are usually drinks containing alcohol only
  • **Layer-**adding ingredients separately and strategically according to their gravity
  • Muddle-muddling refers to crushing up herbs, fruits, and spices in your cocktail
  • Garnish-any item used to decorate the drink
  • Rim-rolling the rim of the glass in salt, sugar, or another granular topping like spices or sprinkles
  • Top-Shelf-the highest quality and most expensive liquor
  • 2:1:1-The golden ratio for cocktail making means two parts alcohol, one part sweet, and one part sour

Essential Ingredients

When building your home bar, you’re going to want to stock up on these essential spirits, garnishes, and mixers. Our bartending service near me recognizes your bar can get expensive, but if you’re serious about diving into the world of drinks, you’ll be getting your money’s worth out of having your own stock in no time! Here are some of the most commonly used ingredients for cocktail making and what drinks usually require them.


  • Vodka-Screwdriver, Martini, Moscow Mule
  • Gin-Gin and Tonic, Negroni, Singapore Sling
  • Rum-Rum and coke, ****Piña Colada, ****Mojito
  • Whiskey-Whiskey Sour, Hot Toddy, Old Fashioned
  • Tequila-Margarita, Tequila Sunrise, Paloma


  • Lemon, lime, cranberry, and orange juices-Cranberry Vodka, Mojito, Mimosa
  • Orange bitters-Old Fashioned, Screwdriver, Martini
  • Simple syrup-Mai Tai, Margarita, Tom Collins
  • Sour mix-Whiskey Sour, Margarita, Amaretto Sour
  • **Club soda-**Tom Collins, Mojito, Spritzers
  • Tonic Water-Gin and Tonic, Virgin Margarita, Campari and Indian Tonic
  • Milk-Eggnog, White Russian, Brown Cow


  • Lemons, limes, and oranges-Mojito, Margarita, Whiskey Sour
  • Salt and Sugar-Margarita, Cosmopolitan, Martini
  • Nutmeg-Eggnog, Mulled Wine, Whiskey Sangaree
  • Mint-Mojito, Mint Julep, Mint Gimlet

Tools of the Trade

As you may have noticed, some of these tools are named for actions you’ll often see called for in recipes. Although you can technically try making a cocktail without these tools, our bartending service near me knows that having them on hand makes the process much smoother. Here are some cocktail crafting tools our traveling bartender near me suggests having in your arsenal.

  • Shaker-Usually comes in a set of two cups, sometimes with a strainer.
  • Bar spoon-used for layering as well as mixing, this long spoon is usually made of silver.
  • Strainer-This isn’t your typical kitchen strainer, but one made specifically for bartending.
  • Jigger-An hourglass-shaped tool for measuring ingredients.
  • Muddler-similar to a mortar and pestle, this is a long, usually silver tool with a flat bottom that is used to mash up ingredients like herbs and spices.

Pour Bar Services | Bartender Services Near Me

That concludes our list of cocktail-crafting must-haves for beginners! Feeling overwhelmed? Let POUR Bar Services take the pressure off with our bartender services near me. Not in the Triangle? No problem. We offer traveling bartending near me, so no matter where you are in the Carolinas, we’ll come to you. Browse reviews, scan our services, and more at our site! Ready to book? Contact us today!