Spirits, Cocktails & Pitchers For Sharing

“Martini, shaken not stirred” – James Bond, Goldfinger, 1964

Cocktails are a great way for your customers to enjoy their favourite spirits and liquors and a great way for you to increase sales. CGA strategy, the drinks industry market researchers, reckon that 1 in 5 venues offer some form of cocktail and providing customers with a cocktail offering can also increase sales of spirits in single serves and with mixers.

Here are some tips to help you serve them the right way. You don’t have to be Tom Cruise or the International Bar Tender of the Year to serve up quality drinks and here’s my guide to essential kit and top tips.

One way to see what you need to have and do to run a successful cocktail operation is to visit a dedicated cocktail bar, click here for the UK’s 50 Top Cocktail Bars . (There are also some recipes you might wish to try.)

Cocktail Inspiration in listicles…

5 Best Spring Cocktails – Olive Magazine

Spring Cocktails from bar.com

9 Best Cocktail Recipe Books

Easy Christmas Prosecco Cocktails

10 Classic Rum Cocktails

6 Classic Whisky Cocktails

How About Using A Cafetiere To Serve Cocktails In?

15 Perfect Pitcher Recipes

 A Quick Guide To Champagne Cocktails

How To Make A Frozen Margarita

Darjeeling Gimlet

10 Great Beer Cocktails

And I know it might seem like sacrilege, but, here are 8 Best Bottled Cocktails

If you need inspiration for stocking your bar…


Everything You Ever Wanted To Know About Gin

How To Make The Perfect Gin & Tonic

10 Best Gins

10 Best Single Malt Whiskies

10 Best English Spirits

13 Best Bourbons

10 Best Vodkas & 6 Best Russian Vodkas

9 Best Flavoured Vodkas

10 Best Rums

4 Best Aged Rums For Sipping

10 Best Tequilas & Mezcals

10 Best Vermouths

7 Best “World” Whiskies

Tricks Of The Trade…

Fruit cordials and spirit infusions

herb garden

10 Best Mixers

Watch a video on how to create the perfect serve for spirits…  as 71% of customers would not buy another drink if their first drink was poorly presented.

Cocktail Essentials

What every good cocktail bar needs:

  • Cocktail shaker,
  • strainer,
  • muddling spoon,
  • glasses & pitchers,
  • a lemon/lime squeezer,
  • cutting board & knife,
  • 25ml & 50ml spirit jiggers
  • an ice crusher.

Download this free pdf: 9 Easily Confused Cocktail Terms You Should Know for a brief introduction to different cocktail types and mixologists’ terminology

Top Tips

Chill everything.

This is the rule of thumb for a cocktail make sure there’s lots of ice in the glass, as well as in your shaker. (Not only does it make the finished drink more appealing, but the more ice in the glass, the less product you will use, the most notable exception being a classic Martini). If you can, then keep your glasses chilled in a bar fridge.

Fresh is best.

If you really want to make a cocktail that stands out from your competitors then use fresh fruit all the time and again keep it in a bar fridge. A juicer can be purchased for a relatively small amount (for light use a domestic juicer will suffice, if you anticipate a great and continual demand for fresh juices or cocktails then purchase a heavy duty commercial one). Freshly juiced fruit juices (bits an all) will taste and mix better.

The right glass for the right drink.

Whilst you should select the perfect glass for the perfect drink most pubs will have a very limited stock and variety of glasses. With a modest outlay on some specialist glasses and judicious use of those already available you can still provide your customers with that special drink for that special occasion.

Perhaps the best known cocktail glass is the classic Martini glass, its simple elegance has graced many a film scene (think James Bond) and this is what customers are buying into. These glasses have a long stem that are designed to keep your cocktail cold without the addition of ice. These traditional glasses generally hold about 5½ fluid ounces.

Many cocktails are champagne based (the Kir Royale for instance being Crème de Cassis and Champagne) and as such should be served in a flute. Most pubs I have run have a few knocking about somewhere!

Most pubs sell wine, which means that you will likely have wine glasses behind your bar and these will more than suffice for many blended drinks.

Slim Jims or highball glasses are another staple glass and the majority of pubs have a plentiful supply of them. As you learn about cocktails and read recipes you may see them referred to as “Collins” glasses. They are tall and relatively thin, and you’ll probably have 10oz and 12 oz versions to hand.

The smaller 6oz Slim Jim will suffice when “old-fashioned”, “rock” or “tumblers” are mentioned in cocktail books. Shorter and squat, often with heavy bases these are used for drinks that do not require so much ice.

With the rise in popularity of tequila and pre-mixed spirits such as Aftershock you’ll probably also have shot glasses (they usually have a heavy base). Shooters are used to serve small amounts of spirits and liqueurs which are sometimes consumed in one go.

Having these essential cocktail glasses will carry you a long way, whether you are only serving a few customers at a time or putting on a full on cocktail themed party night.

If you can’t run to buying many specialist glasses there is one I would highly recommend and that is the margarita glass. Shaped like a champagne bowl this wide, stepped glass is really great for making a showy cocktail.

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