What is a Cocktail?

I received this query from one of my faithful readers.



Dear Professor
I was sitting around a local bar the other night when I got into a heated debate with a fellow patron on what is the definition of a cocktail. Can you enlighten us?

Sign Barfly

Well Barfly the answer is simple and then again maybe not. I define a cocktail as an alcoholic beverage that meets the following criteria.

1. Base Spirit (Whiskey, Gin, Vodka, etc.)

2. A Modifier (Vermouth, Bitters even fruit juices, tonics or sodas)

3. An Enhancer (Bitters again work here along with a twist or other garnish)

A Manhattan or Gin Martini are great examples of a Cocktail.

Manhattan
Base - Rye or Bourbon
Modifier - Sweet Vermouth
Enhancer - Bitters and a Twist

Now for the other types of drinks (Highballs for example) you generally see two types of ingredients.

Whiskey and Cola
Scotch and Soda
Rum and Cola

I like to call these types of drinks "emergencies." Now don't get me wrong I drink a lot (I mean a lot) of emergencies and really enjoy them, however there is nothing fancy about them and not what most consider a cocktail.

So Barfly there you have it and really not worth a heated discussion, simply sit back relax and enjoy your Cocktail or Emergency.

Cheers
The Professor

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