Most craft cocktails are based on 3 basic templates. That might seem hard to believe, but it really is true.
That doesn’t mean all recipes are direct clones of each other. In fact, the opposite is true. The rules that govern balanced cocktails support creative expression and experimentation.
Why does that matter?
If you know these recipes, you have a base for any cocktail that you would like to make.
Standard Recipe #1: The Shaken Cocktail
The standard template for shaken cocktails is:
- 2 oz of spirit, 40%-45% Alcohol By Volume (ABV) or 80-90 Proof (more on Proof here). Flavor preferences aside, any type of spirit that falls within the noted ABV range will work.
- .75 oz of citrus juice, strained. Lemon, lime, and orange, are the most common citrus juices.
- .75 oz of sweetening syrup. In standard recipes, this can be simple syrup, honey syrup, or orgeat among others. More complex recipes include liqueurs and/or multiple syrups, equal to the listed ratio.
Complex versions of the shaken cocktail might include multiple spirits, spirits and liqueur combinations, alternate juice combinations (ex: lime + pineapple) and more.
Complex: Jungle Bird
Standard Recipe #2: The Stirred Cocktail
Stirred cocktails are a step in the boozy direction. The standard template for stirred cocktails is:
- 2 oz of spirit, 40-45% ABV.
- 1 oz of aromatized wine (usually vermouth), 12-18% ABV.
- 3 -5 dashes of bitters.
- Citrus Peel or Twist
Complex versions may include multiple spirits, aromatized wines, and bitters. They may also use an outright tweaked ratio:
- 1 oz of spirit, 40-45% ABV
- 1 oz of aromatized wine, 12-18% ABV
- 1 oz of bitter liqueur or aperitivo, ABV will vary
Despite different proportions and ingredients, the pattern remains: base spirit + aromatized wine + bittering agent.
Standard Recipe #3: The Built Cocktail
Built cocktails are the booziest of the bunch. They showcase the spirit of choice, and offer bitters and orange as an accent to the base flavor. The standard template is:
- 2 oz of spirit, 40-45% ABV
- Citrus peel
- 1 tsp of sugar or .25 oz of sweetening syrup
- 3-5 dashes of bitters
Complex versions use multiple spirits, spirit/liqueur rinses, or multiple bitters, all while sticking to the standard template proportions.
Standard: Old Fashioned
Complex: Mint Julep
What do you think about the templates? Have you noticed any patterns like these? I’d love to hear from you – leave a comment below!