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Definition of a Cocktail

Mixed Drinks

A mixed drink is made up of two or more ingredients (usually a base spirit and a mixer) which are combined together. Perhaps one of the oldest and most famous being a Gin & Tonic.


A cocktail is a type of mixed drink. Originally it was a base spirit with sugar, water and bitters. It developed into a drink consisting of a base spirit (or more than 1) plus one or more flavorings. A key role of the main flavoring is to bring out the aroma and taste of the base (and even add color) and is often referred to as the Modifier. Any other flavorings may, but not always, be used as a mixer. The most notable cocktail is probably The Martini (With Gin as the base spirit, Dry Vermouth the flavoring/modifier and melted ice as the mixer).

A cocktail may also be decorated using a garnish. Sometimes this is purely for aesthetic reasons but it may also impart some flavoring. For example: The traditional garnish for the classic Martini is an Olive, which does provide additional flavor, albeit very slightly.


Today, the term cocktail has evolved and can generally be considered as a term for any type of mixed drink – with only traditionalists and professionals making the differentiation.

The origin of the term “cocktail” is unclear but there are numerous suggested versions. The first published mention of cocktails was in 1803 and it’s popularity has waxed and waned ever since with the highpoint being in the 1920’s.

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