« back to Tips & Tricks

ESSENTIAL BAR SKILLS: COCKTAIL BASICS

Whether you’re making a Mojito or a Gin Fizz, at the heart of every great cocktail there must be a perfect balance. So, let’s get back to basics and look at the principles of making a great cocktail every time.

Let’s talk about flavour

Understanding how your taste buds work will help you make great cocktails. The main tastes we recognise are sweet, sour, bitter and salty. When it comes to making drinks, the first two are generally the most important.

Sweet flavours: Sugar syrup, liqueurs, fruit juices and cordials.

Sour flavours: Citrus fruits like lemons and limes, also passion fruit and green apples in smaller amounts.

Bitter flavours: Angostura bitters, vermouths, some flavour notes in aged spirits, tea and espresso coffee.

It’s all about balance

In order to create a good mixed drink, you need to use these flavours in the right proportions.

There are thousands of recipes and variations for mixed drinks, but all cocktails are built around getting the right balance of flavours.

A classic example would be:

sweet + sour + weak + strong = BALANCE

The principles in action

Let’s explore how these principles of flavour and balance transfer to these five famous cocktails that all have a sweet and sour component.

Practise!

Now put everything you have learnt into practice with these two recipes.

Mojito

50ml CAPTAIN MORGAN WHITE RUM

25ml Lime juice

15ml Sugar syrup 1:1

75ml Soda water

8 Mint leaves

1 Mint sprig

1 Wedge of lime

METHOD

Slap the mint leaves to release the aroma and place into a glass

Add the lime juice, sugar syrup, and CAPTAIN MORGAN WHITE RUM to the glass

Then add a small scoop of crushed ice

Add the soda water and then mix the ingredients through with a bar spoon

Then add some more crushed ice so the glass is filled and finally garnish with a sprig of mint

(2 standard drinks*- 1.6 units per serve)

Margarita

50ml DON JULIO TEQUILA

25ml Orange liqueur

25ml Lime juice

1 Lime wedge

Salt

METHOD

Moisten the rim of Margarita coupe or cocktail glass

Dip the rim into a plate of salt and shake off excess

Shake all ingredients and serve straight or over ice

Garnish with lime wedge and serve

(2.9 standard drinks*- 2.4 units per serve)

Join the conversation on Twitter at @diageobarac, on Instagram @diageobarac or on Facebook – we’d love to hear from you!

Sign up and become a member of Diageo Bar Academy today and unlock the latest industry news, trends and tips to keep your bar knowledge up to speed!