What Is a Craft Cocktail: Explained

What Is A Craft Cocktail

Enjoying a good cocktail is one of life’s simple pleasures. The term “cocktail” originally referred to a mix of spirit, sugar, water, and bitters. Today, it generally refers to any alcoholic drink that contains two or more ingredients.

While there are no hard-and-fast rules about what can and can’t be considered a craft cocktail, specific characteristics make them stand out from the crowd.

But what exactly makes a cocktail “craft”?

A craft cocktail is a drink made with high-quality ingredients, often handmade or small-batch, and mixed with care. Bartenders who make craft cocktails pay attention to detail, using fresh fruits and herbs, unique syrups and bitters, and high-end spirits.

We’ll look at how a craft cocktail differs from your typical mixed drink, a guide to verifying the authenticity of your craft cocktail, the bar tools you’ll need to make one, and some of our favorite recipes.

How Is a Craft Cocktail Different From a Regular Mixed Drink?

How Is A Craft Cocktail Different From A Regular Mixed Drink?

There are several ways in which a craft cocktail can differ from a regular mixed drink:


Craft cocktails are made with high-quality, often handmade or small-batch, ingredients. This includes fresh fruits, herbs, unique syrups and bitters, and high-end spirits.

The fresh ingredients in a craft cocktail can make all the difference. For example, freshly squeezed citrus juice will be brighter and more flavorful than the concentrate you typically find in mixed drinks. And handmade syrups and bitters add layers of flavor that you won’t find in a bottle of pre-made mix.


Craft cocktails are usually made to order, so the bartender has more control over the final product. This allows them to mix the drinks with care while paying close attention to detail and use techniques like muddling (crushing ingredients with a pestle) or stirring (mixing ingredients without shaking) to create a drink that is perfectly balanced and not too diluted.


The presentation of a craft cocktail is often just as important as the taste. Cocktails are usually served in unique glasses with creative garnishes that complement the flavors of the drink. This makes them not only delicious but also visually appealing.

The True Marks of a Craft Cocktail

The True Marks Of A Craft Cocktail

There are certain factors that you can look for to help verify the authenticity of your craft cocktail:

  • The drink should be well-balanced, flavorful, and not too diluted.
  • The presentation should be creative and visually appealing.
  • A good craft cocktail should also taste delicious.
  • High-quality ingredients and the proper bar tools and techniques are key indicators of a true craft cocktail.
  • The bartenders should be knowledgeable about the drinks they are making. This includes being able to answer any questions you may have about the ingredients, preparation, or history of the cocktail.

What Bar Essentials Do I Need To Make a Craft Cocktail?

What Bar Essentials Do I Need To Make A Craft Cocktail?

While you don’t need a fully stocked bar to make a craft cocktail, there are a few essential tools that will come in handy:

A High-Quality Spirit

This is the foundation of your cocktail, so it’s essential to choose a good one. Look for something that is high-proof and full-flavored.

Fresh Ingredients

This could include things like fruits, herbs, and vegetables. Using fresh ingredients will make your cocktail taste even better.

Unique Syrups and Bitters

These can add a lot of flavor to your drink. You can either make your own or purchase them from a specialty store.

A Cocktail Shaker

For a perfectly mixed drink, you’ll need a cocktail shaker. This will allow you to mix the ingredients without over-diluting them. The shaker will also help create a frothy, well-mixed drink.


A muddler is a tool that is used for crushing fruits and herbs. This releases their flavors and aromas, making your cocktail taste even better.

Jigger or Measuring Cup

This is used to measure out the perfect amount of each ingredient. This is especially important when making cocktails, as they are often precise in ratios.

Bar Spoon

This long, thin spoon is used to stir cocktails without diluting them. With different bar spoons available, it’s essential to choose one that is the right size for the glass you’re using.


This is used to strain any pulp or seeds from your drink before serving.

Craft Cocktail Recipes To Try at Home

Now that you know what goes into making a craft cocktail, as well as the bar tools you’ll need, here are some of our favorite recipes to try at home:

The Aviation

The Aviation


  • 2 ounces gin
  • 1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice
  • 1/4 ounce maraschino liqueur
  • 1/4 ounce crème de violette
  • Ice cubes
  • Cherry (for garnish)


  1. Add the gin, lemon juice, maraschino liqueur, and crème de violette to a cocktail shaker filled with ice.
  2. Shake well and strain into a chilled martini glass.
  3. Garnish with a cherry and savor.

The Old Fashioned

The Old Fashioned


  • 2 ounces bourbon
  • One sugar cube
  • Two dashes of Angostura bitters
  • Splash of water
  • Ice cubes
  • Orange peel (for garnish)


  1. Add the sugar cube, bitters, and water to a rock’s glass.
  2. Muddle until the sugar is dissolved.
  3. Add the bourbon and ice cubes and stir well.
  4. Garnish with an orange peel.

The Negroni

The Negroni


  • 1-ounce gin
  • 1 ounce Campari
  • 1-ounce sweet vermouth
  • Ice cubes
  • Orange peel (for garnish)


  1. Add the gin, Campari, and vermouth to a rock glass filled with ice.
  2. Stir well and garnish with an orange peel to enjoy.


Craft cocktails are simply cocktails made with high-quality ingredients and proper techniques.

The true marks of a craft cocktail include a well-balanced, flavorful, and not too diluted drink, and the presentation should be creative and visually appealing. The bartenders should also be knowledgeable about the drinks they are making.

To make a proper craft cocktail, you must use high-quality ingredients, the proper bar tools, and the right techniques. In addition, the drink should be well-balanced and flavorful, and the bartenders should be knowledgeable about their drinks.

Popular cocktails to try at home include the Old Fashioned, the Negroni, and the Aviation.

Frequently Asked Questions

What do you call someone who makes craft cocktails?

A mixologist is a bartender who is specialized in making craft cocktails.

What are contemporary cocktails?

Contemporary cocktails are cocktails that use cutting-edge ingredients and techniques. As a result, they often push the boundaries of what a cocktail can be and constantly evolve.