How to Make Easy Party Cocktails

Cheers! Making party drinks is easy when you know the basics of creating cocktails. These simple tips and techniques will give you bartending confidence for hosting your next party.
Party Drinks Made Easy
Party Drinks Made Easy

Start by understanding the components of a well-balanced, flavor-filled cocktail. When you know the parts, you can be confident about following a recipe or experimenting to create your own signature cocktails.

Pleasing flavor is the primary goal in making a party cocktail. Each element makes a different contribution to a drink's flavor. Understanding those contributions makes it easy to serve cocktails your party guests will rave about.

Most drinks consist of four basic parts: bases, modifiers, accents, and finishing touches.

  • Bases are the spirits. Common bases include bourbon, vodka, gin, brandy, rum, and tequila.
  • Modifiers (or mixers) enhance the drink without overpowering it. They include vermouth, seltzer, mild or sweet fruit juices, sparkling wines, and carbonated soft drinks.
  • Accents are subtle amounts of strongly flavored ingredients, such as lemon, lime, bitters, grenadine, and complex liqueurs.
  • Finishing touches (or garnishes) add color, flair, and sometimes a bit of flavor to cocktails. Traditional garnishes include olives, cherries, and citrus curls or wedges.

In general, the base is the first ingredient placed in a glass, shaker, or pitcher. Add the modifiers, accents, and ice to the container; shake or stir as the drink requires. Garnishes are added to the finished cocktail just before serving.

Editor's Tip: When planning your cocktail party, count on guests to drink two beverages during your party's first hour and one additional libation each hour thereafter.

Continued on page 2:  Party Cocktail Proportions