Seven Drinks Every Bartender Needs to Know

Today’s bartenders have a lot of drinks to memorize. Specialty drinks are becoming increasingly popular, and requests for unique and unusual concoctions are becoming more common as the Internet and other means of mass communication are making once obscure drink recipes more commonly known.

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Getting a good grounding in the basics can help and, whether you’re a veteran bartender or just earned your bartending license in NYC, knowing these 10 drinks will keep the majority of your customers happy.

  • The Manhattan – How can you bartend in New York and not know this one? Take two to two-and-a-half ounces of bourbon or whiskey, one ounce of sweet vermouth, and two dashes of bitters, build your ingredients over some ice, and strain into a martini glass or a rocks glass. Usually garnished with a cherry.
  • Long Island Iced Tea – A crowd-pleasing favorite with a long history and a powerful punch, the Long Island Iced Tea is made with half an ounce of vodka, half an ounce of rum, half an ounce of gin, half an ounce of triple sec, half an ounce of tequila and half an ounce of sour mix. Start by building the first four ingredients over ice, and then add the sour mix and soda. Usually garnished with lemon or lime.
  • The Margarita – Immortalized by Jimmy Buffett, the margarita is a happy hour favorite. Luckily, it’s a pretty easy drink to mix. Combine an ounce of tequila, an ounce of cointreau or triple sec, with an ounce of sour mix over ice, and then shake the drink and pour into a highball glass complete with salted rim and lime.
  • Pina Colada – Another drink immortalized in song (even if it’s a really bad song) the pina colada is made by mixing an ounce and a fourth of light rum with two ounces of pineapple juice and two ounces of cream of coconut with ice in a shaker. Once shaken, pour it into a highball and serve with pineapple or cherry.
  • The Martini – A classic appreciated by gentlemen and rogues alike, the martini is made by taking two ounces of vodka or gin, mixing with dry vermouth, and stirring. Usually garnished with an olive.
  • Mojito – To make a proper mojito, mix lime juice with a half to one teaspoon of superfine sugar. Once that’s done, add mint leaves and mush them against the glass’s side. Next, fill the glass two-thirds full with cracked ice, and then pour in some rum.
  • Whiskey Sour – Mix one-and-a-half ounces of whiskey with one-and-a-half ounces of fresh lemon juice and three-fourths of an ounce of simple syrup in a shaker with ice. Shake the drink, strain it, and serve it straight or over ice.

Get these basics under your belt, and then extend your skills to more obscure drinks like the Rum Cobbler or the Yiddish Headache to become a master mixer.

Drink Recipes for Bartenders

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