3 Main Components of Cocktail

The major alcoholic drink is known as the base of the cocktail which contributes to its character and flavor.

Each cocktail has a major alcoholic drink as the component of this cocktail, which is usually a spirit, and one or more complementary ingredients which may be alcoholic, non-alcoholic, or both.

Complementary ingredients of the cocktail are modifier components of the cocktail that modify or enhance the flavor of the drink.

A drink may have very small quantities of one or more flavoring and or coloring and sweetening agents. Finally, a prepared drink may or may not be garnished.

What are the Components of Cocktail

The 3 main components to prepare a cocktail:

1. Base

The major alcoholic drink used in the preparation of a cocktail is called the Base, which is usually a spirit. Most cocktails are built around spirits. If a cocktail has two or more alcoholic drinks, the quantity of the base generally will be more than the other.

If two alcoholic drinks are used in the same quantity, let us assume wine and spirit, then the one with higher alcoholic strength, that is, the spirit and other is considered as the base.

Let’s understand from some examples:

Example 1: In bobby burns cocktail. If a spirit and liqueur are used in the same quantity then the spirit is taken as the base for bar control purposes.

Example 2: french connection cocktail. If a cocktail has equal quantities of two different spirits then any of the spirits can be taken as the base.

For example, A White Lily Cocktail, it may be called a gin or rum-based cocktail.

Most cocktails have one measure of the major alcoholic drink and the size of the measure will depend on the policy of the establishment.

2. Modifier

These are complementary ingredients of cocktails added to modify or enhance the flavors. Spirits, aromatized wines, beers, liqueurs, fresh fruit juices, soda, eggs, cream, water, etc. are used as modifiers.

Modifiers are very essential for all kinds of mixed drinks. Without the addition of modifiers, one cannot call a mixed drink a straight drink. The modifiers made each drink different from the others having the same base.

Some highly flavored ingredients and their quantity used in the preparation mask the flavor of the base alcoholic ingredients. Such drinks are often preferred by people who do not like the smell or taste of the spirit or do not want others to know they are having alcohol.

For example, In Bloody Mary, the taste and smell of tomato juice overpower the presence of the base vodka.

3. Garnish

Many drinks have standardized garnishes. These are a part of the product. The names of some of the cocktails are changed according to the garnish.

For example, If you garnish martini with pearl onion instead of olive, it becomes Gibson. Olive, cherry, orange, spirals of orange and lemon peels, lemon wheels, lemon wedges, pearl onions, etc. are the commonly used garnishes.

Basically, cocktails are either sweet or dry and acidic. In general, all sweet cocktails are garnished with cherries and the dry cocktails are garnished with olive or lemon slices.

It should be remembered that some drinks do not have any standard garnish and it is advisable to serve without any garnish, instead of trying out different garnishes and spoiling the real flavor and value of the drink.


Cocktails are mixed drinks with one or more alcoholic drinks and the mocktails do not have any alcoholic drink in the preparation. Mocktails are popular amongst teetotalers.

The size of the cocktail should be between 4 OZ and anything more than this size would be termed as a long drink or mixed drink. Most cocktails are made with spirits. There are thousands of recipes, each having varying quantities of different modifiers and flavoring agents.

Classic cocktail recipes are going through changes in the proportion of ingredients as awareness of the effect of alcohol is on the rise.

Earlier the cocktail had more quantity of alcohol but today consumers prefer a long drink with less quantity of alcohol. A well-stocked bar has a good amount of classic cocktails and mocktails.

Dipayan Mondal
Dipayan Mondal

Dipayan is the author of this blog. He completed his hotel management degree from GNIHM, Kolkata. And he is very passionate about the hospitality industry. And right now, he is working as a successful hotelier in a 5-star hotel.