Gin has been a popular alcoholic beverage for centuries, and can be used in a wide variety of cocktails such as the classic martini or the ever-popular gin and tonic. The juniper-flavored spirit is made by distilling fermented grains with juniper berries, creating a crisp, refreshing flavor. Gin can also be infused with different herbs and spices to create unique flavor profiles.
Vodka is a clear, odorless liquor made by distilling fermented grains or potatoes, giving it an incredibly versatile taste that can be mixed with almost anything. It’s the basis for many popular cocktails such as the Screwdriver and Bloody Mary and can also be used to make simple drinks like the vodka tonic. Popular flavored vodkas include citron, orange, raspberry, vanilla, and more.
This sweet spirit is made from sugarcane and its derivatives including molasses or cane syrup. White rum is light-bodied and has a mild sweetness while dark rum offers a bolder flavor. Rum is most often used in Caribbean-inspired cocktails such as the Mai Tai, Mojito, and Piña Colada.
4. Scotch Whisky
Scotch whisky (or just ‘scotch’) is a type of whisky made in Scotland with malted barley and distilled at least twice in copper stills. It has a smoky flavor due to being aged in oak barrels, which can range from light and sweet to full-bodied and complex. Popular scotch cocktails include the Rob Roy and Rusty Nail.
5. Bourbon Whiskey
Bourbon whiskey is an American original, made primarily from corn mash that has been aged in charred oak barrels for several years producing a sweet, smoky flavor. The most popular bourbon-based cocktails are the Manhattan and Old Fashioned.
Brandy is a type of distilled spirit made from fermented grapes or other fruit juices. It has a mellow sweetness, which makes it ideal for sipping neat or adding to mixed drinks like the Sidecar and Brandy Alexander.
Tequila is made from the agave plant in Mexico and has become increasingly popular over the years. Blanco tequila (also known as silver or white) is aged for less than two months while gold tequila (also called reposado) is aged for two to twelve months. Popular tequila cocktails include margaritas and Palomas.
8. Triple Sec
Triple sec is a type of orange-flavoured liqueur made from dried peels of oranges, giving it a slightly sweet flavor that enhances many cocktails such as the Margarita and Cosmopolitan.
9. Sweet and Sour Mix
Sweet and sour mix is a blend of citrus juices, sugar, water, and sometimes other ingredients like pectin or preservatives. It’s used in drinks like whiskey sours and hurricane cocktails for a tart but sweet flavor.
Vermouth is an aromatized wine flavored with herbs and spices such as cardamom, coriander, and cinnamon. The fortified wine has a slight sweetness and can be used as an aperitif or as an ingredient in cocktails like the Martini and Negroni.
11. Lillet Blanc
Lillet Blanc is a type of French apéritif made from Bordeaux white wines, citrus liqueurs, and spices. It has a light, refreshing flavor and adds a subtle sweetness to many cocktails such as the Vesper Martini and Corpse Reviver No. 2.
12. Orange Liqueur (Cointreau, Grand Marnier)
Orange liqueurs are sweetened spirits flavored with dried peels of oranges, giving them a complex citrus flavor. Popular brands include Cointreau, Grand Marnier, and triple sec. Orange liqueurs can be used in cocktails like the Margarita and Cosmopolitan.
13. Bitters (Angostura, Peychaud's)
Bitters are a type of alcoholic infusion made from herbs, spices, roots, and other natural ingredients. They add an intense flavor to cocktails like the Manhattan and Old Fashioned and can also be used as a digestif for aiding digestion after a meal. Popular brands include Angostura and Peychaud's bitters.
14. Club soda (sparkling water/tonic water/ginger ale etc.)
Club soda, sparkling water, tonic water, and ginger ale are types of carbonated beverages used in cocktails to add a bit of effervescence. Each has a slightly different flavor profile; club soda is neutral while tonic water has a slight sweetness due to added sugar or artificial sweetener. Ginger ale is spiced with ginger and can be used as an ingredient in Moscow Mules and other drinks.
15. Glassware: (highball glasses, martini glasses, shot glasses, wine glasses, etc.)
Glassware is an important part of any bar and can range from highball glasses and martini glasses to shot glasses and wine glasses. The right glassware can help enhance the flavor and aroma of cocktails, making them even more enjoyable. Highball glasses are typically used for drinks served with a lot of ice while martini glasses are reserved for classic cocktails like the Martini or Sidecar. Shot glasses are often used for shooter-style drinks while wine glasses are ideal for white wines, sparkling wines, rosés, and some reds.