6 Ways to Elevate Your Favorite Drink

Let’s face it, everyone has a favorite drink. Even if you’re a novice to alcohol, you can recognize what tastes good to you, and what flavors you’d rather avoid. Though certain palettes can be developed over time, it takes a little experimenting and just a hint of risk-taking. When you encounter a perfectly crafted cocktail, you may not even notice the subtle elements involved in creating the taste of excellence. 

What are the Different Types of Cocktails?

There are many different kinds of cocktails, each with its own flavors, components, and production techniques. These are a few common cocktail varieties:

A martini is a classic gin-based cocktail

1. Martini – A traditional cocktail made with gin or vodka, vermouth, and served up or on the rocks with an olive or lemon twist for a garnish.

Margaritas come in a variety of flavors and colors

2. Margarita – A tequila-based drink called a margarita is created with lime juice, triple sec, and salt on the glass rim.

Classic Daiquiri served in a cocktail glass

3. Daiquiri – A rum-based drink called a daiquiri is mixed with lime juice, and sugar, and is often served chilled or shaken with a strainer.

An image of Mojito

4. Mojito – With white rum, lime juice, sugar, mint leaves, and club soda, the Mojito is a traditional Cuban drink.

A Manhattan served in a cocktail glass

5. Manhattan – Cocktail containing whiskey as the base, sweet vermouth, bitters, and cherry as a garnish.

A Bloody Mary garnished with celery served with ice cubes in a Highball glass

6. Bloody Mary – a vodka-based drink mixed with tomato juice, and spices, and topped with a celery stalk.

Whiskey Old Fashioned

7. Old Fashioned – A whiskey-based drink called an Old Fashioned is created with sugar, bitters, and an orange twist.

A cosmopolitan

8. Cosmopolitan – a vodka-based drink mixed with cranberry juice, triple sec, and lime juice.

The Long Island iced tea was named for its visual resemblance to non-alcoholic iced tea

9. Long Island Iced Tea – Gin, rum, tequila, vodka, triple sec, and a dash of cola are combined in equal quantities to make the potent beverage known as the Long Island Iced Tea.

an image of Mai Tai

10. Mai Tai – A rum-based drink called a “Mai Tai” is garnished with a mint sprig and mixed with orange curacao, lime juice, and orgeat syrup.

It’s easy to mix liquor and juice or liqueurs, but how can you create an unforgettable beverage experience at home? When it comes down to it, many details shape your perception and enjoyment of a drink. From aesthetic reasons to matters of quality and temperature control, here are 6 ways to elevate your favorite drink, and make the perfect cocktail at home.

Choose Your Glass

Contrary to popular belief, the type of glass used for a cocktail isn’t selected just for its visual appeal. Glass choice is much more practical than that, and is based on a variety of factors including bouquet, liquid volume, and temperature control. Flutes are used for champagne to sustain the effervescence of the drink, while martini glasses are chosen for their wide brims and therefore increased fragrance. Selecting the correct glass will not only make it look more sophisticated, but will also enhance the temperature, scent, and overall flavor of your drink.

Types of Cocktail Glasses

Glass of fresh cocktail with pomegranate and rosemary

Highball Glass

This tall, straight glass is designed to be filled with ice and holds 8 to 12 ounces. The glass shape preserves carbonation and is ideal for cocktails served on the rocks since it keeps the beverage cool. The conventional highball glass, which is frequently used interchangeably with a Collins glass, is marginally wider and shorter than a Collins glass.

Mojito served in a Collins glass

Collins Glass

The Collins glass, which is occasionally called a highball glass, is really taller, narrower, and slightly larger, holding 10 to 14 ounces. This tall glass keeps your cocktails frozen and is ideal for cocktails that have multiple mixers and are heavily ice diluted. The Tom Collins cocktail gave rise to the name of the Collins glass, which can be used for any cocktail served over ice.

An image of Zombie Cocktail

Zombie Glass

Originally, the Zombie cocktail—a concoction of juices, rum, and liqueur—was meant to be served in this glass. The tallest and narrowest of all cocktail glasses, the zombie glass helps to accentuate vibrant cocktails. Because of its huge capacity, it can store cocktails that have been created with multiple mixers.

Clear Drinking Glass With Yellow Liquid

Rocks Glass

The rocks glass is a solid-bottomed, short, and wide glass that is also known as an old-fashioned or lowball glass. The rocks glass holds drinks that include predominantly alcoholic beverages, as opposed to the glasses above, which are meant to handle a lot of ice and mixers. The Old Fashioned, a traditional cocktail made with bourbon whiskey and a dash or two of Angostura bitters, is the inspiration for the name of this drink. The glass’s design makes it possible to mix, muddle, and even add one or two big ice cubes.

An image of Cocktail in Glass on Table

Coupe Glass

Champagne was originally intended to be served in the coupe glass. The broad, rounded shape of this glass, however, is not ideal for carbonated beverages. The huge surface area causes the bubbles to deflate quickly. Instead, cocktails like a Manhattan that must be strained and delivered “up” without ice are best served in this glass. The long stem keeps your palm from warming the glass, and the glass’s form accentuates the cocktail’s color.

Close-Up Photo of Martini With Olives

Martini Glass

The martini glass, which is arguably the most recognizable cocktail glass, appears chic when held. It has a “V”-shaped bowl design that necessitates sipping, which makes it ideal for drinks with few or no mixers. Although the term “cocktail glass” is frequently used to refer to the martini glass, the actual cocktail glass is smaller and more rounded.

An image of Moscow Mule

Copper Mug

Due to the conductivity of its copper design, this famous mug is excellent for keeping cold drinks cool on a hot day. The vodka, ginger beer, and lime juice-based Moscow Mule cocktail has traditionally been served in the copper mug. Copper both intensifies the carbonation and improves the flavors of ginger beer and citrus. In order to prevent the possibility of copper leaching into liquids, most copper mugs are now coated with another material, like stainless steel.

An image of Blue Margarita With Lemon

Margarita Glass

The traditional margarita glass has a broad, spherical bowl with a huge surface area for garnishes. With each sip, the consumer can take in the aromas of the beverage and experience the salty or sweet rim thanks to the broad bowl. Even with greater capacities, the glass is simple to carry because of the tall stem.

Hurricane cocktail in a Souvenir Hurricane Glass at Pat O'Brien's Bar in New Orleans

Hurricane Glass

This tall glass has a short stem, wide rim, and tulip-like form. The 20-ounce capacity of a typical hurricane glass makes it perfect for pouring tropical cocktails that contain a variety of ingredients and mixers. The hurricane glass, which was created originally for the Hurricane cocktail, can be used to serve any tropical beverage. The wide lip creates space for garnishes while allowing the fruity aromatics to take center stage.

Ice Cubes 

To use ice, or not to use ice- that is the question. For many cocktails that require champagne, ice should be avoided to prevent dilution and the flattening of the signature bubbles. Some drinks, like paper planes, should be shaken over ice and then strained to create the perfect temperature. That being said, a large majority of drinks benefit from the chilling effect and pleasing look of ice cubes. When it comes to cube creation, size is an important factor. For low-volume drinks, particularly liquor-heavy ones, try larger ice cubes to fill the glass even when you’re only using fewer than three ounces of liquid.

Select the Best Spirits

Select the Best Spirits

A poor craftsman blames his materials, but in the case of making a drink, the quality of your ingredients can make or break a drink. With things like juices and sparkling waters, it is typically easy to identify a high-quality product. For things like spirits, it can be a little more challenging. However, there are advantages to doing your spirit research, and you could find your next great whisky in the process. Selecting the highest quality liquor like arak for your drink can be a confusing process, so comparing reviews and getting informed is a great way to staunch curiosity and embark on your drink discovery.

Mix Well

Ever wonder why bartenders stir rather than shaking a drink? The mixing method will change drink per drink based on the type of liquor the recipe requires, the amount of agitation required, and the suggested serving temperature. James Bond is seen as a real trendsetter for his “shaken not stirred” request because his typical drink is a vesper martini- a cocktail crafted with gin. Experienced bartenders know that gin doesn’t do well when shaken, as its top notes dissipate when agitated. Bond may look cool, but when trying to finetune your favorite cocktail you should always make sure you are mixing your ingredients properly to get the best taste possible.

Get Creative

The best kind of drink is a unique one, and that’s why there is ample room for creativity in drink creation. Love a classic cocktail but prefer a different type of spirit? Want to add a spicy or sweet flavor to your typical drink order? When crafting a drink, the sky is the limit! Adding fresh juices, or incorporating unusual infusions to the base of your drink will take it from humdrum to revelatory in seconds, and provide for a deliciously fresh experience. 

Garnish Matters

The last thing to touch your drink before you get your hands on it is a garnish. Though garnish is technically optional, it can be the small touch a beverage needs to tie together the different flavor profiles. Additionally, garnishes can add depth, sweetness, bitterness, tang, or a fun textural element to a drink. This will not only make the cocktail taste better than usual, but it will also stimulate the visual senses. Visual presentation greatly affects the enjoyment of any consumable, so garnishes are instrumental to taking your drink to the next level.

Cocktail Garnish Ideas

A lime peel “twist” for a garnish adds an elegant touch to this Martini

Citrus Peel Twist

An easy way to instantly dress up a drink is to garnish it with a twist of orange or lemon peel placed on the edge of the glass. This is used in traditional cocktails like the cosmopolitan and rum old fashioned as well as holiday beverages like the mulled wine cocktail and spice 75 (a French 75 with allspice added).

Beverage with Sliced Apple and Cinnamon Stick

Cinnamon Stick

While it sits in the drink and infuses your cocktail, a fragrant cinnamon stick is an ideal complement to winter cocktail recipes, especially those served warm. A stick of cinnamon is used to decorate our hot buttered rum, while a couple of cinnamon sticks are a wonderful addition to a jug of winter Pimm’s punch.

Orange, mint, and lime

Dried Orange Slice

If you keep a bag of dried orange slices in the same cabinet as your booze, you’ll always have a cocktail garnish on hand. Dried orange (or try lemon or lime) gives your beverage a delicate flavor and adds a classy finishing touch.

An image of Maraschino cherry

Cocktail Cherry

For good cause, it is a classic! Each drink gets a vintage feel and a touch of sweetness from a bright cocktail cherry. Without this final ingredient, neither of our traditional tequila sunrise or hurricane cocktail recipes would be complete. A cherry bakewell cocktail blends the cocktail cherry with the cordial for a drink that truly captures the flavor of the dessert.

A Person Holding a Glass Cup with Margarita

Sugar and Salt Rim

A sugar or salt rim may appear elegant, but it is easy to make and is sure to amaze visitors during a drinks party. You only need to dampen the rim of your empty glass and dip it into a plate of your sugar or salt combination to cover the edge, which is most frequently found on a margarita. Also, you can enhance the flavor of your salt by adding spices, dried coconut, or citrus zest.

an image of Pineapple wedge

Fresh Fruit

Fresh fruit is a quick, colorful method to top off drinks and can be used to indicate which flavors are present. There are countless options available here, such as adding a colorful wedge of watermelon to the edge of a watermelon daiquiri or sprinkling berries throughout a mojito made with raspberries.

Champagne pouring into glasses of cocktails

Fruit Ribbons

Create fruit and vegetable ribbons for an exquisite aesthetic as an improvement over just sliced fruit. This is most typically done with cucumber: simply peel the whole length of a cucumber to create delicate strips to add to cocktails and mocktails.

Two Brown Liquid Inside Clear Drinking Glasses


While you drink your cocktails, they will smell incredible because of the effortless addition of fresh herbs. Try sprinkling sweet and flowery lemon thyme over an elderflower gin fizz in the spring. On hot days, refreshing mint offers additional freshness to summer beverages.

Clear Drinking Glass With Yellow Liquid

Edible Flowers

Edible flowers make a lovely cocktail garnish in the spring. For a splash of color, simply sprinkle them over a rich and creamy white rabbit cocktail with lemon curd, amaretto, and vanilla.

Summing it up!

Crafting the perfect cocktail isn’t rocket science, but it does require some finesse. By playing around with things like the temperature, look, and mouthfeel of your drink you can create something truly masterful. What is easiest isn’t always best, and by putting in a little extra effort you can easily elevate your favorite drink to match or surpass the fanciest bar in your neighborhood. With the 6 tips mentioned above, any drink will dazzle your taste buds as well as your aesthetic sensibilities, “wow” friends at a dinner party, or simply brighten your day.