Top 5 Drinks Every Bartender Should Know

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There are dozens of classic cocktails and thousands of new, modern concoctions. The world of cocktails is limitless. Still, you’ve got to start somewhere, and the best way is by mastering the classics.

Some cocktails withstand the test of time and are now international drinks known and loved worldwide. These are the drinks every bartender should know. Bartending is learning how to take care of your guests, and classic drinks are a great way to do it!

If you want to take your bartending skills to the next level, then you may want to look into professional bartender training to really master your drink making skills. But here are some of the most important drinks that every bartender should know:

1. Margarita

The Margarita is the most popular Tequila-based cocktail and Mexico’s flagship drink. This tropical and refreshing drink is part of the “sour family.” The cocktail was most probably created in the 1930s in Tijuana, and it’s popular at beach destinations worldwide.


  • 2 oz Tequila 100% agave
  • 1 oz Triple sec
  • 1/2 oz Freshly squeezed lime juice
  • Salt as needed
  • Lime wheel as a garnish


  1. Dip the rim of a margarita or “sombrero” glass in lemon juice and create a salt rim. Set Aside.
  2. In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, add the lime juice, triple sec and Tequila.
  3. Shake until the shaker is frosty and strain through a prong strainer into the Margarita glass filled with fresh ice.
  4. Garnish with a lime wheel.

2. Dry Martini

Chic and sophisticated, the Martini is one of the most classic cocktails in history. The Martini probably evolved from another cocktail, the Martinez, created in the 1860s in San Francisco. It’s worth mentioning the proportions between gin and vermouth have changed over time.


  • 2 oz Gin
  • 1/2 oz Dry (French) Vermouth
  • Olive or lemon peel as a garnish


  1. Chill a Martini glass with ice water and set aside.
  2. In a mixing glass filled with ice, pour the vermouth and the gin. Stir with a bar spoon for around 10 seconds.
  3. Discard the ice water in the Martini glass and pour the cocktail through a prong strainer.
  4. Garnish with an olive or lemon peel.

3. Old Fashioned

One of the oldest classic cocktails in the books and the most popular today. The Old Fashioned is larger than life. This short drink was created in the early 1800s, and it emulates the cocktails of the past, before bartenders started using more sophisticated recipes and ingredients.


  • 1.5 oz Bourbon or Rye Whiskey
  • 1 sugar cube
  • A few dashes Angostura Bitters
  • A few dashes of plain water
  • Lemon peel and cherry as a garnish


  1. Place the sugar cube on the bottom of a rocks glass, coat with a few dashes of Angostura bitters and add a few dashes of water.
  2. Muddle until dissolved.
  3. Fill the glass with large ice cubes and pour the Bourbon or Rye.
  4. Stir gently and garnish with a lemon peel and a cherry.

4. Bloody Mary

The most famous brunch cocktail and a drink with a reputation for curing hangovers, the Bloody Mary, is truly unique. As part of the most popular classic drinks, someone probably created the Bloody Mary in the 1920s either in Paris or New York.


  • 1.5 oz Vodka
  • 3 oz Tomato juice
  • 1/2 oz Fresh lemon juice
  • 2 dashes Worcestershire Sauce Tabasco, celery salt and black pepper to taste.
  • Celery stalk as a garnish


  1. Stir to combine all the ingredients in a mixing glass filled with ice.
  2. Pour straight into a rocks glass or ‘on the rocks’ in a highball glass filled with fresh ice.
  3. Garnish with a celery stalk.

5. Cosmopolitan

This fashionable tall drink became prominent in the 70s and returned in the 90s as one of the most cherished modern classic cocktails. Still, its recipe is based on the 1930s Cosmopolitan Daisy.


  • 1.5 oz Vodka Citron
  • 1/2 oz Cointreau
  • 1/2 oz Fresh lime juice
  • 1 oz Cranberry juice
  • Lemon peel as a garnish


  1. Chill a Martini glass with ice water and set aside.
  2. Add all the ingredients into a cocktail shaker filled with ice and shake until the tin is frosty.
  3. Discard the ice water and pour the cocktail through a prong strainer and a fine-meshed strainer into the martini glass.
  4. Garnish with a lemon peel.

This is Just a Drop in the Bucket!

Now that you know how to make some of the classic drinks every bartender should know, it’s time to explore variations of these cocktails and similar libations. In the world of cocktails, every drink is related to another — cocktails are a big family!

Practice mastering these essential classic cocktails and hone your skills. Once you’re out there tending the bar, these recipes will surely come in handy, so know them like the back of your hand.

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