Drink Recipes Every Bartender Should Know

As a professional bartender you will always be learning new drinks, this list is very general but a good start to what could be a career behind the bar. 

These are the easiest drinks to make and the most universal to almost any establishment. Highballs are generally made in an ice-filled highball or collins glass with a shot of a base spirit that is topped with a mixer. These drinks include some of the most classic mixed drinks, are difficult to screw up and good practice for familiarizing yourself with a speed pourer and the layout of the bar.

Highballs and Tall Drinks to Memorize

  • Black & Tan
  • Bloody Mary
  • Bloody Caesar
  • Bourbon & Water
  • Campari & Soda
  • Cuba Libre
  • Fuzzy Navel
  • Gin & Tonic
  • Greyhound
  • Harvey Wallbanger
  • Highball
  • Melon Ball
  • Rum & Coke
  • Salty Dog
  • Sea Breeze
  • Scotch & Soda
  • Screwdriver
  • Seven & Seven
  • Sloe Screw
  • Tequila Sunrise
  • Vodka Red Bull
  • Vodka Tonic

 BIM Everyday Drinks

On the Rocks and Lowball Drinks to Memorize

This second list of drinks is very similar to the highballs in that most only have one or two spirits or mixers and are served on the rocks. Drinks of this style are often called lowballs because they are short (small volume) and are served in a lowball, or old-fashioned, glass

  • Mudslide
  • Rusty Nail
  • Stinger
  • White Russian.

Martinis and Cocktails to Memorize

There are many cocktails that are generally accepted as Martinis and those listed below are some of the most popular and universal Martinis that are essential for all bartenders. In some bars you may never serve these drinks however they are good to know and may increase future opportunities. Keep in mind that you will also need to memorize the lounge’s cocktail menu as well as any local favorites

“Martinis” are normally served in a chilled cocktail glass yet some of these drinks are preferred on the rocks in an old-fashioned glass. You will find that patrons have personal preferences with these drinks in particular and it is important that you ask questions to ensure the drink is to their taste.

You will need to know:

  1. Liquor preference
  2. Garnish preference
  3. Shaken or Stirred
  4. Dry, Dirty, Perfect
  • Martini
  • Dry Martini- 1/2 the amount of dry vermouth
  • Extra Dry Martini- couple of drops of dry vermouth
  • Bone Dry Martini (Desert Martini)- no vermouth
  • Perfect Martini- equal parts of sweet and dry vermouth
  • Vodka Martini- vodka instead of gin
  • Dirty Martini- small amount of olive brine
  • Gibson- garnish with cocktail onion
  • Manhattan
  • Dry Manhattan- dash of dry vermouth, garnish with a lemon twist
  • Perfect Manhattan- equal parts of sweet and dry vermouth, garnish with a lemon twist
  • Rob Roy
  • Dry Rob Roy- dash of dry vermouth, garnish with an olive
  • Perfect Rob Roy- equal parts of sweet and dry vermouth

BIM Everyday Drinks

Sours and Tropical Drinks to Memorize

Here is another list of drinks that are very popular among bar patrons, especially tourists here on vacation in Belize. Many of these drinks are so classic that people will expect to be able to order them in almost any type of establishment. Because of their sour ingredients (sour mix, lemon juice and/or lime juice) these drinks are often classified as Sours. Further down you’ll run across a list of tropical cocktails. Remember that when making a Margarita or Daiquiri you need to know how the customer prefers their drink: Rocks or Blended? Salt Rimmed? Flavor?

The sweeter a drink is, the easier it goes down. This makes it important that, as a professional, you keep an eye on patrons who may be ordering a few too many of these drinks. Strong flavors disguise the alcohol and leave the taste buds wanting more, causing the person to drink more and become intoxicated before they know it. Use your best judgment.

  • John Collins
  • Tom Collins
  • Vodka Collins
  • Whiskey Sour
  • Bahama Mama
  • Between the Sheets
  • Blue Hawaiian
  • Daiquiri
  • Gin Fizz
  • Golden Margarita (and Golden Grand Margarita)
  • Hurricane
  • Long Island Iced Tea (and many variations found on the recipe page)
  • Lynchburg Lemonade
  • Mai Tai
  • Margarita
  • Panty Rippa
  • Piña Colada
  • Rum Runner
  • Sex on the Beach
  • Singapore Sling
  • Strawberry Daiquiri
  • Zombie


Shooters and Shots to Memorize

There are many shooters out there and each area will have local favorites, these are just some of the more universal ones – old and new. Some bars will serve a lot of shots on high-traffic party nights and more often for younger crowds so it’s best to be on the ball.

Shots are often ordered by a group of friends and in this situation people will often order the same shot for the entire party, making your job easier. Line up all of the shot glasses needed on the bar and pour the ingredients in each glass, one at a time, continuing with each ingredient until all of the shots are complete. In the case of shaken shooters, pour enough of each liquor in the shaker and just strain right down the line of glasses.

  • B-52
  • Boilermaker
  • Blow Job
  • Buttery Nipple
  • Cement Mixer
  • Irish Car Bomb
  • Jäger Bomb
  • Kamikaze
  • Lemon Drop
  • Melon Ball
  • Mind Eraser
  • Pickleback
  • Prairie Fire
  • Purple Hooter
  • Redheaded Slut
  • Russian Quaalude
  • Screaming Orgasm
  • Slippery Nipple
  • Tequila Shot (straight)


Hot Drinks, Wine Cocktails, and Stick Drinks to Memorize

Stick Drinks:
The following drinks are off in a category of their own; they are stick drinks. Essentially, this means that they require the use of a muddler (stick) to mix a few of the ingredients. These drinks will consume more of your time than most and require some practice. They are very popular, though, and it will do your tip jar well if you learn to make good ones.

  • Mint Julep
  • Mojito
  • Old-fashioned

Hot Cocktails:
There are certainly not many hot cocktails that are called for in the average bar, but in the dead of winter this can change. No matter if you make zero or two hundred of these hot drinks in your lifetime, they’re great to know, even if it is for your own personal enjoyment.

  • Hot Toddy
  • Hot Buttered Rum
  • Irish Coffee

Champagne & Wine Cocktails:
It is likely that you will have more requests for a house merlot or pinot than you will for cocktails that mix up the average glass of wine or Champagne. Just as it is in the case of those few hot cocktails, you can always keep the knowledge of these Champagne and wine-based cocktails in the back of your mind and pull them out to impress customers on special occasions.

  • Bellini
  • Champagne Cocktail
  • Mimosa
  • Wine Spritzer

BIM Everyday Drinks