The Cocktail Essentials Every Guy Should Know

Guys, it’s time to swap that light beer for something a little more refined. Sure, pounding a PBR at a backyard barbecue is always a good choice. But if you’re grabbing drinks with a client or date, skip the draft list and order your go-to cocktail.

What’s that, you aren’t schooled in the ways of the classic cocktail? No worries, we have you covered.

Admittedly, learning the lingo can be a little intimidating at first. Shaken or stirred? Collins glass or highball glass? What’s the difference and why does it matter? Listen, you don’t need to be a mixologist. You just need to sound like one. And lucky for you, speaking fluent bartender only takes a minute or two — and we’ll have you feeling like a pro in no time.

Every cocktail has its glass. Unless you're taking your drink on the go, here are the three essentials:

Cocktail Glass

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Aka: The Martini glass

When to use it: The Cocktail glass is suitable for just about any cocktail. In particular, use this glass when you're serving a shaken or stirred drink, without ice. The stem separates the hand from the container so the heat from your hand doesn’t warm your drink.

Ideal for: Martini, Brooklyn, Margarita, Sidecar

Lowball Glass

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Aka: Old fashioned glass, rocks glass

When to use it: The lowball glass is perfect for drinks you’re mixing directly in the glass, usually on ice. Also the go-to for most whiskey-based drinks.

Ideal for: Old fashioned, Negronis (on ice), Mint Julep, White Russian

Highball Glass

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Aka: Collins glass, the Delmonico

When to use it: The standard Highball holds 8-12oz, the Delmonico is slightly smaller at 5-8oz and the Collins is the big guy at 12-16oz. Perfect for drinks that use a lot of ice.

Ideal for: Dark and Stormy, Mojito, Gin and Tonic, Bloody Mary


Some cocktails call for special equipment. Here are the basics:


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The shaker is one of the most basic cocktail tools.  It’s used to shake cocktails that include mixers, to blend flavors from the various spirits and ingredients and to chill or dilute the drink


Photo by: Mens Fitness

Used to strain out all the clunky things from your drinks, like fruit pulp or crushed ice.


Photo by: W&P Design

The jigger is your liquid measuring cup. It ensures you’re measuring your liquore quantities precisely and keeps your cocktail ratios on point.


Photo by: Huffington Post

This tool smashes fruit or herbs before being added to a drink (think muddled mint leaves in a mojito, for example)


This is the only time we’ll tell you not to follow in the footsteps of James Bond. Here’s when to shake, when to stir, and when to pour:


Photo by: Huckberry

Shaking a cocktail creates bubbles in the mixture and gives the drink an almost frothy texture

When to do it: When mixing drinks that contain mixers like fruit juice, cream, or eggs.

Avoid if: Mixing with soda or other carbonated mixers

Cocktails that are shaken: Margarita, Green Ghost, Whiskey Sour


Photo by: Arctiq

Stirring is done with a bar spoon or regular long spoon to maintain the clarity of the cocktail.

When to do it: When mixing drinks that are entirely alcohol-based

Cocktails that are stirred: The Vesper, Gin and It, Manhattan


Photo by: Jigsaw Online

When the drink is meant to maintain carbonation, it shouldn’t be over-handled. Pouring the ingredients directly in the glass and giving a quick stir is all that’s needed for some cocktails.

When to do it: When the cocktail contains a carbonated mixer like soda.

Cocktails that are poured: Old Fashioned, Dark and Stormy, Moscow Mule


Thanks to Food52 and W&P Design for title images.