20 Cocktails Every Bartender Should Know

cocktails every bartender should know

When you first get into bartending, it can be overwhelming!

You hear stories of how the average bartender has hundreds of drinks burnt into their memory. While this might sound like an impossible skill to pick up, it is not rocket science.

Keep in mind that the average bartender has developed their drink-memory over years of practice. The trick is to start with learning essential drinks, and then learn other drink recipes as you go.

In this article, I have hand-picked 20 of the most essentials cocktails every bartender should know.

Let me know which one is your favorite!


>> Make sure you are prepared to mix! Learn the basic here!


Bloody Mary

A Bloody Mary is a classic drink you have to know! It consists of primarily vodka and tomato juice.


The Manhattan

The Manhattan was the first cocktail that used vermouth as a modifier. You’ll see a few other drinks on this list that took inspiration from the Manhattan and incorporated Vermouth.

A Manhattan is primarily made from rye whiskey and vermouth. It has a cherry for a garnish.



There are a TON of different martini recipes. I have linked to a basic one.

The link I supplied tells you how to make both a gin martini and a vodka martini.

You’ll also notice that martinis also use vermouth as a modifier.



Mojitos are a perfect vacation drink. If you are bartending in any tropical/beach location, you’d be crazy not to memorize this one.

The primary ingredients in a mojito are light rum, mint, lemon juice, and lime juice. It is recommended to use fresh mint for optimal flavor.


Old Fashioned

An old fashioned is a drink that has been around for ages. It consists of primarily club soda, bourbon, and an orange.

This drink is a classic and is definitely worth learning.



Margaritas are another type of drink that has a ton of different different variations.

Your typical margarita will consist of tequila, triple sec, and limeade concentrate.


Black Russian

The black Russian is loved by anyone who is a fan of vodka-based drinks.

The vodka in this drink is mixed with Kahlúa, a coffee-flavored liquor.


White Russian

A White Russian drink is the exact same as a Black Russian drink except heavy cream is added. This drink is perfect for someone who wants to experience the joy of vodka without such as strong taste.


Mai Tai

A Mai Tai is going to be one of the more complicated drinks on this list. It requires a few different types of juices as well as dark rum, light rum and triple sec.


Whiskey Sour

Whiskey Sour calls for fresh lemon juice, syrup(just water and sugar mixed), and bourbon.


Pina Colada

Pina Coladas are a drink any beach-bartender must know!

It calls for cream of coconut, pineapple juice, light rum, dark rum, and pineapple.



Whether you are a fan of Cosmos or not, they are a very popular drink that often gets ordered in clubs.

The ingredients you need are vodka, triple sec, cranberry juice, and lime juice.


Alabama Slammer

To make an Alabama Slammer, you’ll need Southern Comfort, Amaretto, sloe gin, grenadine, and orange juice.


Amaretto Sour

Amaretto Sour is a drink made of simple syrup, lemon juice, an orange slice, and a maraschino cherry as garnish


Sex on the Beach

Sex on the Beach is a common drink made of vodka, peach schnapps, cranberry juice, and orange juice.


Tequila Sunrise

Tequila sunrise is a beautiful drink that consists of ice, tequila and orange juice.


Strawberry Daiquiri

Strawberry Daiquiris are a well-known drink made of sugar, strawberries, lime juice, lemon juice, rum, and a lemon-lime flavored carbonated drink of your choice. This drink is also mixed with ice.



The mudslide is sweet drink made from vodka, Kahlúa, and cream. There are many different exciting variations of this drink such as the ‘Frozen Mudslide’.



A B-52 is made from Kahlúa, Grand Marnier, and Baileys Irish Creme.



Bacardi is a drink made of light rum, lime juice, sugar syrup, and grenadine syrup.



So there you have it!

Those were my choices for the top 20 cocktails every bartender should know.

Which cocktail on this list is your favorite? Let me know in the comment section below.

If you’re looking for some flashcards to help you memorize drinks, I recommend looking on Quizlet. As an example, here is a flashcard set for cocktails.

If you’re planning on setting up a home bar, consider signing up for my email list down below! You’ll receive helpful tips, tricks, guides, and much, much more.


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