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How to Make Delicious Cocktails at Home

What are cocktails? They are yummy adult beverages. Otherwise known as mixed drinks. But all mixed drinks are not the same.

Cocktails are mixed drinks with three distinct components that set them apart from other alcoholic drinks.

Let’s begin with the word cocktails (It’s a bit of trivia but sets the stage for learning about them). What a strange name for an alcoholic drink.

We are used to it now but have you ever wondered about the origin of the word cocktail? Who started this distinct group of adult beverages? And why call it that???

The answer: As in many things related to alcoholic drinks, the origin and history of the word cocktail is kind of funny and obscure.

According to the Differsguide encyclopedia the origin of cocktails is all mixed up in Horse racing and electioneering in the late 1700s.

The word cocktail, as it relates to alcoholic drinks, officially arrived in print in 1803.

It’s a fun read if you want to know how it all came about. Spoiler alert It refers to horses tails on the racetrack circuit back in the day.

What Are Cocktails?
Everyone has their favorite cocktail drinks

And the political aspect came a bit later when politicians learned pretty boozy drinks smoothed the way with constituents.

Since then, entire schools of thought and even separate cocktail classifications have arisen.

Over time home cocktail hobbyists have taken a more focused view. Home Wet bars and booze cupboards allow the creative spirit freedom.

You can take online classes to learn all about every aspect of making cocktails. You can get certified as a bartender if you like.

If you just want to build your own cocktails from scratch, here’s the method you need to legit make a cocktail. Without a degree. 🙂

It’s fun, can save you a TON of money, and gives you complete control over the flavor blends. you can choose Alcohol brands you enjoy and all the ingredients you add in.

Row Of Cocktails
So many choices!

When you go to your wet bar and stare at your selection of spirits and mixers… How do you know what elements are included when you want to put a cocktail together? How do you begin?… Read on.

What Drinks are Considered Cocktails?

Two ingredient Mixed drinks like Screwballs and Vodka 7 are not actual cocktails.

But people use the terms interchangeably. I won’t tell if you won’t. 🙂

However, when making a cocktail. You need a third piece to get it correct.

A cocktail is two or more spirits mixed with a third element to create a pleasing mixed drink.


The result is a balanced three component drink.

To create a cocktail, that third element might be a liqueur, juice or carbonated mixer like club soda or any soda pop.

The really great thing about cocktails is there are endless ways to make them.

You can blend the alcohol spirits with any complementary mixers and additional seasonings you like.

And there you are! If you are pleased with the result, that is a complete cocktail recipe.

Garnishes can be part of the flavor mix. Or just a fun way to add textures and bring forward the ambience of the drink.

The success of a cocktail depends on your ability to blend a pleasing combination of flavors and textures. Like any recipe really. It’s all about how you like it.

For example, Here are a small sampling of some of my favorite cocktails I’ve created using this basic rule of thumb.

And from there it is all about you.

Once you get the hang of it, making your own cocktails is very simple to do and personally rewarding.

Create your own cocktails. It is a GREAT way to use up liqueurs, mixers and spirits in your wet bar before they go bad.

Making your own cocktails at home allows you to more precisely work within your budget and pick your favorite brands. Fortunately most alcohol has a fairly long shelf life. If you keep the bottle well sealed. So buy the large economy size and save. 🙂

Control what goes in your drinks. Like to play with your flavor blends? Want healthy Cocktails? Or extra indulgent yummy cocktail drinks like a peppermint Schnapps Milkshake? Make your cocktails at home. 🙂

Let’s begin.

How to Make Cocktails at Home:

Cocktail Glasses:

Part of the fun of creating your own alcoholic drinks is collecting glasses the fit the vibe of the drink.

Cocktail Party Table

You will need a glass that holds 6 to 12 oz. of liquid for most basic cocktails. That depends on if you are using ice and how much ice you use.

The Glass can be as basic as a mason jar, or elegantly classic in style. Stemless Martini, Long stemmed Martini glasses come in various styles or choose the elegant Coop glass.

Need a short glass? Whiskey glasses in various styles lend their own ambience to your drink. Need a tall glass. The tom Collins Highball Glasses are a good choice.

Make sure your glass will hold the contents of your cocktail. Do the math.

How many shots are you using? How many ounces of all three components do you need? Add them up and plan for the extra room ice and garnishes require.

How many Shots are in a Cocktail?

When mixing your own cocktail recipe begin with the base spirit. Consider how much alcohol it requires for the batch size you are creating.

  • Your average 750 ml bottle of liquor yields about 16-1 1/2 oz. shots.
  • The balancing element of your drink is usually a liqueur or juice (often a fresh squeezed citrus) in the amount of 1/4 to 3/4 oz/cocktail.
  • The Final element is the seasoner. The amount varies with the recipe. Usually you just fill the glass. But this will impact flavor. So more of less ice next time?

Your drink is either mixed or stirred or made in a blender.

Basic stirred cocktails are built from the base up.

Stirred cocktails are those built right in your cocktail glass. They are not shaken. Here’s the method.

  • Choose your glass. Fill it with ice, if using, first.
  • Pour ih the base alcohol over the ice.
  • Add your balancer spirit directly into your glass.
  • Top off the glass with your seasoner. This is your soda, juice, club soda, coffee or whatever you are adding to finish your cocktails. However, for hot drinks you usually begin with the hot element. Then add in the other components as you build the drink. Our example is the Irish coffee.
  • Stir the drink, garnish and serve.

Shaken Cocktails:

Shaken cocktails shake some or all of the ingredients of the recipe.

you want the contents of the shaker throughly combined and very cold. This is especially important for drinks served with no ice.

NEVER shake a carbonated liquid in the shaker. Or you will have a foaming fountain of a mess in the kitchen. And a flat drink for your trouble.

We shake to mix flavors and bring the temperature of the cocktail down so it is quickly chilled. Carbonation is always poured in last after the drink is strained into your glass.

To shake cocktails Add the spirits into your shaker and shake in a cocktail shaker filled with ice.

There is more than one way to shake a cocktail. We pictured two popular methods above. Many of our cocktail recipe videos will show you how to shake a cocktail with one of these methods.

Rather than take a side on the best method of shaking a cocktail, we say, use whatever method you choose and shake until the shaker is uncomfortably cold.

Now strain the shaker contents into your glass and fill it with your seasoning component. This can be any soda, champagne or juice to fill the glass.

The seasoner can be adjusted to your taste. When your’e making a new cocktail recipe do the taste test. Is the cocktail too strong or too weak? Are you happy with the flavor balance?

This is when you tweak the drink. Adjust the flavors and your recipe is ready for your note book of homemade Drinks recipes. 🙂

Blended Cocktails:

You will need a blender that will easily crush ice to make frozen cocktails like our Mistletoe Cranberry Margarita. These are simple to make in batches for parties. Our recipe shows you the complete process.

Blended drinks don’t have to be frozen. Just Whir together your ingredients that need blending.

TIP: Save any carbonated ingredients to pour into the glass separately at the end.

Mistletoe Margarita Mixed Drink
Frozen Mistletoe Margarita


Garnishes set the mood. Non edibles, Fruits vegetables, even candy make great garnishes. If you look through our cocktail section we have oodles of different garnished drinks to inspire you.

Find All Of Our Cocktails Here

Garnishes are optional of course. You can happily drink your cocktail without them.

However, garnishes add a lot to a cocktail. With a proper garnish your drink can look cool and refreshing, Icy, or warm and cozy. Festive, romantic, classic or rustic.

We enjoy garnishing. They are endlessly fun to do.

Garnishing Strawberry Daiquiri
Serve with garnishes of your choice.
How To Make The Perfect Cocktails At Home-Pin Image
What are cocktails? They are yummy adult beverages. Otherwise known as mixed drinks. But all mixed drinks are not the same.

Cocktail Building tools:

Now you’re all fired up to create your Own Delicious Cocktail Recipes. Here is a short list of tools to help you out.

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