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What is considered a classic cocktail? What are the most popular drinks a bartender should know? Steve Timpson from the Diageo Bar Academy training team explains more about the foundations of a perfect serve, and we've compiled a selection of the most popular classic cocktail recipes. Review the most famous, best-loved drinks, refine your techniques and keep your customers happy!

The importance of getting a classic drink recipe right is paramount to maximising sales, generating profit and customer satisfaction. A perfect serve is a key indicator as to whether you are getting the basics right. It builds trust with the consumer and can encourage repeat business. Quality of serves is the second most important reason for visiting an outlet (the first is location!) and nine in ten customers would buy a drink again if it was served correctly. Therefore, it is very important to ensure you deliver great looking and tasting drinks consistently every time! Another key reason to promote a perfect serve in your outlet is that we should be looking to produce drinks that many would struggle to create at home.

Perfect your serve with the classics

Now we've covered the importance of a superior serve, we can take a look at some cocktails. One of the best ways to practise your perfect serve is with popular classic cocktails. Your customers will have high expectations of these cocktails, making it especially important to be able to create the perfect serve.

Classic cocktails are steeped in history and mystery. Origins are always contested and it is often impossible to decipher the truth. I have a tendency to lean on stories that are whimsical, romantic or outrageous so please allow for a little poetic licence here!

I generally try to keep everything really simple and make serves to the 2:1:1 formula. This means that where the recipe is concerned we should try to make sure we have 2 parts of our strong ingredient (spirit), 1 part of our sour ingredient and 1 part of our sweet ingredient. This simple formula will ensure that all of your cocktails are balanced in flavour and ensures all of the team can deliver consistently on serve.

Classic Cocktails: The Recipes






The perfect serve in 5 simple steps

Here are they key areas to consider every time you make a classic drink recipe:

The Glass

Make sure you use the right glass for your drink. The glass should always be able to hold the right amount of spirit, mixer, ice and garnish and should be held at the bottom. The most important thing is that the glass is cool, clean, dry and damage free.



Your ice should always be fresh (not wet), preferably cubes and you should always be looking to fill the glass with ice. Always remember the colder your ice the less dilution that will take place ensuring your customer’s first sip is the same as their last.



Pouring accurately ensures you do not waste stock and your customers always get a consistent drink. Always look to upsell to a premium spirit when making a sale and offer both single and double measures to ensure your customer gets exactly what they are looking for.



Another opportunity to go premium and help create a new customer experience. Ensure you leave a little room to ensure spillages are kept to a minimum.



Garnish enhances the flavour of the drink and makes the drink great. Position the garnish neatly at the top to ensure it is fresh.

Perfectly Served Drinks: watch the video

Classic Cocktail Families – Sours

The Untold History of the Cocktail

Who crafted the first ever cocktail? The truth is we may never know but in this article David Mayne from Happy Hour History, explores the origins of cocktails and the classic serves that continue to shape the drinks and techniques we use today.

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