Liquors and drinks every bar should serve-feature

Regardless of the state you live in, it’s almost expected that there are certain liquors and drinks that every bar should serve. These alcoholic beverages are staples behind most bars because of their popularity. Barbacks learn about these renowned drinks during their training to become bartenders. These liquors range from highball drinks, which are simple recipes to the more complicated lowball concoctions.

Although there is a growing list of liquors and mixed drinks recipes, the must-have drinks at bars remain constant. Occasionally, new drinks are developed and they become classics that are added to the liquors and drinks that every bar should serve.


Liquors and alcoholic drinks that every bar should offer

List of liquors and alcoholic drinks that every bar should offer

Firstly, here are some scotch and whiskey brands that are featured in many mixed bar drinks and cocktails.


Scotch brands

Scotch whiskey is found behind the majority of bars in America. There are many different types of scotch brands, and bars often choose to stock different types.

Some of the top scotch brands include:

  • Ballantine’s – varieties include Blended Malt 12-Year-Old and 21-Year-Old
  • Dewar’s  availability includes 12-Year-Old and 18-Year-Old
  • The Famous Grouse – the extensive varieties include Scottish Oak Finish, Black Snow Grouse, and Famous Grouse

Brandy brands

There are some brandy brands that have cemented themselves as firm favorites behind American bars. Here are some brandy brands that made the 2017 best-selling list, according to The Spirit Business:

  • Emperador – the world’s largest brandy brand isn’t just well known in America. The Middle East and the Philippines are the Emperador’s dominant markets.
  • Courvoisier – made a comeback from declining sales to once again become a dominant brandy brand due to marketing changes and the introduction of its Toast of Paris brand.
  • Rémy Martin – positions itself as a luxury brandy brand and has collaborated with famous celebrities to further establish its space in the market.

Brandy drinks

Brandy brands form the basis of brandy drinks and cocktails that bartenders should be able to whip-up at the request of their customers. Here’s a classic brandy drink and cocktails recipe, courtesy of The Spruce:

  • Metropolitan
    • Ingredients
      • 2 oz brandy
      • 1 oz sweet vermouth
      • ½ teaspoon simple syrup
      • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
    • Directions
      • Pour the ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice cubes.
      • Shake well.
      • Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Individual drinks that bars should serve

As well as well-known brands, there are also some individual spirits, like rums, vodkas, and whiskeys, that every bar should serve to their customers.

Here are some renowned drinks that are most certain to be a constant presence at bars across America:

  • Bacardi rum
    • According to CNN, Bacardi rum is the fourth most popular liquor drink in America. This rum makes it onto the list of drinks that every bar should serve as it can be used to make both classic and exotic cocktails. Here’s just one of the many popular cocktails using Bacardi Rum from The Dummies guide:

      • Bacardi Daiquiri
        • Ingredients
          • 1-1/4 oz. Bacardi Light Rum
          • 1/2 oz. Lemon Juice
          • 1/2 tsp. Sugar
        • Directions
          • Mix in shaker with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

  • Malibu rum
    • Malibu Rum is manufactured in Barbados and is blended with coconut extract to give it a distinctive taste. Absolut has provided some cocktail recipes that include this popular rum.
      • Malibu Piña Colada
        • Ingredients
          • 2 Parts Malibu Rum
          • 1 Part Coconut Cream
          • Pineapple Juice
          • 1 Wedge Pineapple
          • 1 Whole Cherry
        • Directions
          • Fill a shaker with ice cubes.
          • Add Malibu rum and coconut cream.
          • Shake and strain into a wine glass filled with crushed ice.
          • Top up with pineapple.

  • Dewars white label
    • The Gentleman’s Gazette claims that Dewar’s Scotch Whiskey is the number one selling brand in America. Travel and leisure provide some recipes using this best-selling whiskey. Here’s one below:
      • Blood and Sand
        • Ingredients:
          • 1 oz freshly-squeezed orange juice
          • ¾ oz sweet Vermouth
          • 1 oz Dewar’s White Label
          • ¾ cherry heering
          • Directions
            • Add all ingredients to cocktail shaker.
            • Fill with ice and shake vigorously for 10-15 seconds until very cold.
            • Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and serve neat, garnished with a cherry.

  • Green Apple Vodka
    • Natural essence of green apples gives this vodka a distinctive sweet and sour flavor. Here’s a cocktail recipe by Make Me A Cocktail using green apple vodka:
      • Summer gin granita
        • Ingredients
          • 5 cl Lemon Juice
          • 7.5 cl Gin
          • 7.5 cl Apple Vodka
          • 2 shots Elderflower Cordial
          • 50 cl Watermelon Juice
        • Directions
          • Place all the ingredients into a large jug and mix well with a long-handled spoon.
          • You then need to freeze the mixture which can take a few hours.
          • First, pour the mixture into a shallow container and place into the freezer for one hour.
          • Mix the granita with a fork and place back into the freezer and freeze for a further hour.
          • Continue this a couple more times or until the mixture is completely frozen.
          • Once its frozen its ready to serve – scrape some the mixture out with a fork to form a fluffy iced mixture and place into a cocktail glass.

Drinks & cocktails every bartender should know

Drinks & cocktails every bartender should know

Now that we’ve reviewed some brands of liquor that every bar should serve, here are some drinks and cocktails that any experienced bartender should be familiar with.


  • Screwdriver
    With only two ingredients served in a highball glass, this cocktail is as simple as it gets. While the basic screwdriver drink is made up of two ingredients, variations can be made, for instance, screwdriver with Sloe gin and orange juice makes a “Slow Screw” cocktail.The screwdriver cocktail drink has been recognized as an International Bartender Association official cocktail. The Inspired Taste provides the recipe for the classic screwdriver cocktail:

    • Ingredients
      • Vodka
      • Orange Juice
    • Directions
      • Add the vodka to a highball glass filled with ice.
      • Top with orange juice.

  • Bourbon
    Bourbon is a drink that’s made from at least 51% corn and aged in charred oak barrels. Bourbon must be bottled at 40% alcohol per volume and at 805 proof. This liquor was originally the exclusive export of Kentucky but is now made all over the U.S. Serious Eats provides this cocktail recipe using bourbon drink:
  • Old Fashioned
    • Ingredients
      • 1 teaspoon (5g) superfine sugar (or 1 sugar cube)
      • 2 to 3 dashes bitters
      • 2 ounces (60ml) bourbon or rye whiskey
      • Orange and/or cherry to garnish (optional)
    • Directions
      • Place sugar in an Old Fashioned glass.
      • Douse with bitters and add a few drops of water.
      • Add whiskey and stir until sugar is dissolved.
      • Add several large ice cubes and stir rapidly with a bar spoon to chill.
      • Garnish, if you like, with a slice of orange and/or a cherry.

  • Blue lagoon 
    It’s reported that the blue lagoon drink was created in the famous Harry’s bar in 1960. As the name suggests, the blue lagoon cocktail is a bright shade of blue and is mostly made up of lemonade to create a refreshing drink. The following blue lagoon cocktail recipe is provided by 1001cocktails.com:

    • Ingredients
      • 1 oz vodka
      • 1 oz blue curacao liqueur
      • 1 oz lemonade
      • 1 cherry
    • Directions
      • Pour vodka and curacao over ice in a highball glass.
      • Fill with lemonade, top with the cherry, and serve.

  • Bellini
    Bellinis are known as summertime cocktails and are reported to have been created by Giuseppe Cipriani at Harry’s Bar in Venice. This customer favorite incorporates the summer flavor of peaches mixed with Prosecco. Here’s the full recipe from mixthatdrink.com:

    • Ingredients
      • 1 tablespoon white peach puree
      • Prosecco
    • Directions
      • Put one tablespoon of white peach puree into the bottom of a chilled flute glass.
      • Now fill the glass slowly with Prosecco (or champagne), so it stirs up the puree.

  • Singapore Sling
    The Singapore Sling originates from the Raffles Hotel’s Long Bar in Singapore. This cocktail provides a different take on another famous cocktail – the gin sling. Liquor.com provides the recipe for this classic cocktail:

    • Ingredients
      • ¾ oz Gin
      • ¼ oz Grand Marnier liqueur
      • ¼ oz Cherry liqueur
      • ¼ oz Herbal liqueur
      • 1 oz Pineapple juice
      • ½ oz Fresh lime juice
      • 1 dash Bitters
      • Club soda
      • Garnish: 1 Orange slice, Cherry
    • Directions
      • Add all the ingredients (except the club soda) to a shaker and fill with ice.
      • Shake and strain into a highball glass.
      • Fill with club soda, and garnish with an orange slice and a cherry.

  • Appletini
    The Appletini cocktail is over 20 years old, and it was a big hit with bar customers. With the sweet and sour flavors of apple vodka, it’s said that the Appletini cocktail was created in a West Hollywood restaurant called Lola’s. Although Appletini came on the scene over two decades ago, it still remains one of the drinks that every bar should serve. Here’s an Appletini recipe from Liquor.com:

    • Ingredients
      • 1¼ oz Vodka
      • 1 oz Calvados
      • 1¼ oz Fresh Granny Smith apple juice
      • ¼ oz Fresh lemon juice
      • ¼ oz Simple syrup
      • Garnish: Brandied cherry, Granny Smith apple slice
    • Directions
      • Add crushed ice to a cocktail glass and set aside to chill.
      • Add all the ingredients into a shaker with cubed ice and shake for about 10 seconds.
      • Empty the ice from the cocktail glass and double-strain the mixture into it.
      • Garnish with a skewered brandied cherry and 3 Granny Smith apple slices.

  • Black Russian
    It’s alleged that the black Russian cocktail originated from Brussels in 1949. This simple two-ingredient cocktail is a classic drink that remains a favorite and should be served in every bar. The black Russian recipe can be tweaked to include flavored vodka and even cola. Here’s the recipe for the original black Russian cocktail from kahlua.com:

    • Ingredients
      • 1 part Kahlúa
      • 2 parts absolut vodka
    • Directions
      • Fill a rocks glass with ice.
      • Add the booze, mix and enjoy your very own Black Russian.

  • Sex on the Beach
    Sex on the Beach is a fruity cocktail with vague origins. Some believe that it was created by a bartender mixing Fuzzy Navel with a Cape Codder. Whatever the origins of the sex on the beach cocktail, it remains on the list of drinks that bars must serve. Here’s liquor.com’s take on this cocktail:

    • Ingredients
      • 1½ oz Vodka
      • ½ oz Peach schnapps
      • 1½ oz Orange or pineapple juice
      • 1½ oz Cranberry juice
      • ½ oz Chambord or crème de cassis (optional)
      • Garnish: 1 Orange wheel
    • Directions
      • Add all the ingredients to a shaker and fill with ice.
      • Shake, and strain into a highball glass filled with fresh ice.
      • Garnish with an orange wheel.

Shots

Shots

No list of liquors and drinks a bar should serve would be complete without shots that customers love. Although shot recipes vary, here are some preferred shot recipes that every bartender should know how to make a variation of.


  • Jägerbomb
    This shot has developed somewhat of a cult following and has caused some controversy due to its potential side effects. However, this hasn’t stopped the jager bomb cocktails being enjoyed by friends in bars all over America. Here’s a Jägerbomb recipe found on thespruce.com:

    • Ingredients
      • 1½ oz Jägermeister
      • ½ can Red Bull
    • Directions
      • Fill a shot glass with Jägermeister.
      • Fill a highball glass, or other tall glass, with Red Bull.
      • Drop the shot glass into the taller glass and drink immediately.

  • Kamikaze shots
    Kamikaze shots came on the scene in 1976 and are thought to be the original shooter cocktail. The International Bartenders Association recommends that this cocktail should be served straight up in a cocktail glass. Myrecipes.com provides the recipe for this kamikaze shot below:

    • Ingredients
      • 1½ oz vodka
      • 1 oz triple sec
      • ½ oz lime juice
    • Directions
      • Add all the ingredients to a shaker filled with ice.
      • Shake and strain into 2 shot glasses.

  • Vodka shots
    Vodka shots are simple and plain and are served neat with no additional flavor added. There’s no training needed to pour a vodka shot, which makes the drink a no-fuss option that should be served at every bar.

Cheers!

You are likely to find the alcohol bottles above in most bars around the country. They form the basis of equally famous drinks and cocktails that any bartender worth their salt can serve at the customer’s request.

A well-stocked bar is also a great way to increase profits. There’s little overhead involved in mixing drinks and alcohol has a very long shelf life. Alcohol sales can help offset your margin on higher priced menu items like fresh seafood or expensive cuts of beef.

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