How to build drinks and 3 types of glassware

The basics of cocktail construction are simple like don’t drink and drive, liquor before beer and drunk dialing is always a bad idea. But in that same way the exception to rules are also specific and beautiful, like drinking a light beer while driving a pickup on the farm, the boilermaker (a whiskey and a beer) is one of the finest “cocktails” and drunk dialing, if nothing else, is the real truth. The rules are simple and so are the exceptions, here are the basics.

The instructions will frequently say, “Build drink in,” there are basically three glasses you build a drink in and two ways to do it. Here is that list: The Collins or highball glass, (12oz ish) you know, the tall fluted one you make a Tom Collins in (this is a good place to note that a Tom Collins is made with gin. Vodka wasn’t imported to America until the 40’s. Most drinks that have a vodka base, started with a gin base). An old-fashioned, bucket or rocks glass (10 oz ish), you know the one you’d put an old fashioned in or a liquor on the rocks. And lastly the pint glass or as bartenders call it, the mixing glass (16 oz ish) and its frequently filled with beer. A quick bit of trivia on that “a pint is a pound the world round,” is nearly a nursery rhyme. It is such because though most of the world uses metric, standard is still understood in the beer world.

To address the glasses, the highball glass in used for mojitos, Tom Collins, highballs or gin and tonics, basically anything both fizzy and clear. Lets extract a rule there” if it’s a clear cocktail with soda it goes in a highball glass. Whenever “building” a drink is called for, it’s quite important to fill the vessel to capacity with ice, the tippy top with ice. When a glass is filled to capacity it will allow for about 2 oz of booze and about 3 oz of soda to perfectly fill the glass. This makes the perfect flavor combination for what bartenders call “and drinks” meaning: gin and tonic, vodka and soda or blah and bland. A couple of notable exceptions would be a Mai Tai and a zombie look really cool in a highball glass, though these drinks should really be made in a zombie glass which is a slightly larger flared highball glass, but hold on cowboy, that’s advanced stuff.

By Joel Baker, Randy Tarlow and Andrew Bohrer

By Joel Baker, Randy Tarlow and Andrew Bohrer

And there is the old fashioned glass. When building an “and” drink in a rocks glass, it’s the same rules: to the top with ice, about 2 oz booze to 3 oz mixer. BUT, the old fashioned glass gets drinks on the rocks that you can’t see through, like bourbon and coke, an old fashioned, or the vodka and diet gaining ground in being called a skinny bitch (for reasons, um that could be obvious). The Sex on the Beach is a drink built on the rocks but not really “mixed.” When mixing a drink that will be served on the rocks its very important for appearance and quality to strain the drink onto fresh ice in the rocks glass, that is to say discard the ”wet” ice used to mixed the drinks. A of the few exceptions to this is the caiphrinia (pronounced kai-pri-een-nuh); Brazil’s national cocktail is served with the same ice. But another exception is the “spirit on the rocks,” in which almost any spirit ordered on the rocks will be rendered flavorless if 2 oz is poured over a full rocks glass. In this case the proper form is a half filled glass, or ice on the side with a spoon, this is the best for scotch, whiskey, gin, tequila or any anything worth drinking.

Suntori times, press the glass on your face

Suntori times, press the glass on your face

But then there is a “neat” drink, meaning, “Hello, I’d like just booze in a glass.” Neat drinks are served in old-fashioned glasses. The old fashioned glass is pretty much the same as a rocks glass, which used to be the same as a whiskey glass but isn’t now. Follow? No? Explanation: People who love booze (on a professional level, but amateurs can learn here) have begun to buck a couple traditions: the snifter for brandy because it over focuses the nose, and the old fashioned glass for whiskey, which allows too much oxygen to dissolve the nose. This is leading to the trend of creating glasses specifically designed for each spirit, for example the modern whiskey glass will be tulip shaped with either a thick bottom or a short stem and not be cut glass. Cut glass creates a prism effect and distorts the color of the spirit.

And most prolific and most heinous is the mixing glass, Boston glass or the pint glass. When is a garbage bag not a garbage bag? When you throwing clothes in one to move instead of using boxes, then it’s called a “garment bag.” When a 16 oz glass is filled with beer it’s a pint, when it’s used for mixing a martini, it’s a mixing glass. When it’s joined with the metal half Boston shaker, it’s a Boston glass and when its half full of some fluid with a shot glass poised to be dropped in it, it’s a mistake (though sometimes refreshing). The only drinks “built” in a mixing glass are booze tastic drinky drinks that are dangerous and appeal to those looking to loose inhibitions or memories. These are of the ilk of the Long Island Iced Tea and the Black Opal or. The other type would be the bomb drink; it is painful to think that this is a category of a shot glass filled with booze dropped into a half filled pint glass of something. The most notable bombs are the Boiler Maker (when dropped), the Jager Bomb, or the Car Bomb (in modern times, we leave the Irish out of it). When bombs are ordered think of it two ways: woo hoo, these drinks are expensive and make money for the bar or uh-oh, how many of these assholes can drink a shot of whiskey dropped into a beer right now and not vomit?

Rules of Bartending: How to do it right
A glass is called what it’s used for
Fill glasses being “built” to the brim with ice
A highball glass is for clear drinks
A rocks glass is for short drinks, cola drinks, neat or mixed on the rocks drinks
If a spirit is any good, serve the rocks on the side
A mixing glass is for long drinks, pints of beer, bomb drinks and other mistakes

Rules of Customering: How to get what you want
Want a spirit in a glass with no frills? Order a (blank) neat.
Want it on the rocks but not drown in water? Order a (blank), rocks on the side
In a bar where you’ll be called a fagot for doing that? Find another bar, or say just a couple rocks.
When ordering drinks say “I’ll have a (brand) and (mixer)” a decent bartender will have poured you half of a coke if you say “I’ll have a coke and bourbon” before dumping out the glass, and starting over, wishing you had read this first.
The same goes for top shelf mixed drinks. Order a Sauza Hornitos Margarita, not a margarita with Sauza Hornitos.
Lastly, there is the Brian Bosworth clause, Bri, like plenty of manly men, hate cocktail glasses, if you want your Manhattan, or martini in a rocks glass, be sure ask for it strained. Your get your cocktail, crisp clean in a rocks glass.


Recipes: For Highball Glasses
2 oz of a spirit
Topped with soda
Roundly considered the worst drink, the vodka soda being the king

Tom Collins / Vodka Collins
2 oz Gin/Vodka
1 oz Lemon juice
Splash of simple syrup
Top with soda
Garnish with a cherry

Mai tai (accepted version)
Remember :R.un A.fter P.retty T.all L.oose M.odels, hey, that’s how I was taught.
2 oz Light Rum
1 oz Amaretto
1 oz Pineapple
1 oz Triple Sec
1 oz Lime
Float of Myers or dark rum
Garnish with a lime and a cherry
Please note, this is not the Trader Vic’s Mai Tai, rather its what most people want

Zombie (accepted version)
2 oz Dark rum
2 oz White rum
1 oz Lime juice
1 oz Apricot flavored brandy
1 oz Orange juice
1oz Pineapple juice
1oz Lemon juice
Float of 151
Garnish with Aspirin and large glass of water

Recipes: For Rocks Glasses

Old Fashioned (traditional)
Muddle a wedge of orange, sugar cube, a cherry and 2 dashes of Angostura bitters
2 oz Bourbon
Fill with ice
Top with soda
This is the most common and least crowd-pleasing way to make an old-fashioned

Caiphrinia (traditional)
Muddle a quartered lime in a mixing glass
2 oz Cachaca
1 Tablespoon of sugar
Top with ice
Shake and DUMP contents into a rocks glass

Margarita (traditional)
2 oz Tequila
2 oz Lime
2 oz Simple syrup (the Mexicans tell me they prefer it to triple sec)
Shake and strain into a rocks glass with a salt rim over ice

Sex on the Beach (one of many ways)
2 oz Vodka
1 oz Orange juice
1 oz Cranberry juice
1 oz Peach schnapps

Recipes: For Mixing Glasses

Long Island Iced Tea (one of many ways)
Build over ice
1.5 oz Vodka
1.5 oz Gin
1.5 oz Tequila or Rum or both (how much do you love or hate the drinker)
1.5 oz Triple Sec
1 oz Lime Juice
1 oz Lemon
Shake and DUMP (because, nobody ordering this cares) back into the mixing glass and top with Cola
Garnish with cherries

Black Opal
Build over ice
1.5 oz Vodka
1.5 oz Gin
1.5 oz Tequila or Rum or both (does this sound familiar?)
1.5 oz Triple Sec
1 oz Chambord
1 oz Lime Juice
1 oz Lemon
Shake and DUMP (because, nobody ordering this cares) back into the mixing glass and top with Lemon Lime soda
Garnish with cherries

Half a beer
2 oz Whiskey

Jager Bomb
Half of a Red Bull
2 oz Jagermiester

Car Bomb (no longer called an “Irish” car bomb)
Half of a Guinness
1.5 oz Baileys with a float of whiskey

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