The Most Important Cocktail Essentials

Nowadays more and more people want to drink less, but on a higher standard. Really enjoy the drink, instead of just go on a bender. And we like that trend! At Bols we feel that taking the time to prepare, drink and enjoy cocktails is the best way. It almost feels mindful. But how to achieve this cocktail-state of mind at home? With this list of cocktail essentials, you always have everything by hand to enjoy your drinks to the fullest!

Spirits as a base

It all starts with spirits! Spirits are the base of almost any cocktail (liqueur-based and mocktails are the exceptions of course) and therefore very important cocktail essentials. There are numerous spirits in the world, but the most common and versatile ones are Vodka, Gin, Rum, Whisk(e)y, Tequila and of course Genever.


Vodka is a clear, distilled alcoholic drink with a neutral smell. Because of this, vodka is an easy to mix spirit in many cocktails, such as the Espresso Martini or the Bloody Mary. Vodka brings just that special, alcoholic kick a cocktail needs.


Another cocktail essential is gin. This grain spirit always contains juniper berries in combination with other botanicals and gives cocktails a bit more depth and complexity. The last couple of years, gin has really become trendy and the Gin Tonic is the go-to drink to create with it. But there is more to explore and this spirit is a really good base for other cocktails like the Bramble or the Aviation.


Any (home) cocktail bar should have a good whisk(e)y! Either to drink neat or to mix in more mature, boose-forward cocktails, such as the Old Fashioned or Manhattan. Just like gin, whisk(e)y is a distilled grain-based spirit but this time you leave out the botanicals and add flavour through aging in wooden barrels. Aging spirits in barrels gives it a beautiful golden colour and a smooth, complex taste. Whisk(e)y is a very good ingredient for cocktails such as the Blood and Sand.


To create more tropical cocktails like the Mai Tai or the classic Cuba Libre, rum is an essential ingredient. This spirit is made from sugar-cane residues or molasses and it mostly produced in Latin America and the Caribbean. Now you get the tropical cocktail vibe, right?


Wanna do a Margarita night? Then tequila is your cocktail essential! This agave-based spirit has a semi-sweet flavour and is the perfect base for a variety of cocktails. Next to several Margarita cocktails, such as the Margarita Azul or the Mango Margarita, tequila goes very well in a Long Island Iced Tea or a Berry Devil.


We wouldn’t be Bols if we didn’t put genever on this list of cocktail essentials! Genever is our Dutch pride and the base of many classic and some of the oldest cocktails in the world. Made from long-fermented corn, rye and wheat, distilled and blended with botanicals, Genever is a perfect base spirit to bring more depth and complexity in cocktails like the Bols Ginger Mule or the Red Light Negroni.



Liqueurs to add the flavour

Next to spirits, most cocktails need a flavour maker or modifier as we call them in cocktails. Liqueurs have been used as modifiers for more than 150 years now! Liqueurs are probably the best flavour adders to cocktails and these cocktail essentials can’t be missed. Liqueurs are typically sweet and are available in many shapes and sizes. From fruity to bitter and from indulgent to fresh. Take a look in our Gallery to find your next favorite cocktail ingredient.

Sugar syrup for the sweet tooths

To balance your cocktail to perfection, some recipes need sugar syrup. Sugar syrup is really easy to make at home and to prep before your guests arrive. Read this blog on sugar syrup to learn more about this cocktail essential.

Ice to cool and dilute your cocktail

This might actually be the most essential ingredient when making cocktails at home. Not only to cool your drinks but also to dilute them. Make sure to always have enough to make your cocktail party a real success. Check this blog to learn more about ice and get the tips and tricks on how to make the best ice for your cocktail party.


Photo by Cottonbro on Pexels


Sugar syrup for the sweet tooths

To balance your cocktail to perfection, some recipes need sugar syrup. Sugar syrup is really easy to make at home and to prep before your guests arrive. Read this blog on sugar syrup to learn more about this cocktail essential.

Tools to prepare your cocktail

Ask any bartender and they would say you are nowhere without good cocktail tools. Although we agree, there are ways to create the best cocktails, without having bartender-like tools. Check out this blog where we share the secrets of at home cocktail making.

If you do want to invest a small amount in getting the right tools. There are your go-to ones to make your cocktail essentials complete.

 Cocktail shaker: Number one cocktail essential on the list, of course! Although not every cocktail is a shaken cocktail, if you do want to shake it till you make it, you need a proper cocktail shaker.

 Jigger: If you aren’t a free-pour-hero (no worries if you aren’t and if you want to become one, book our Advanced Bartending course), a jigger is a very handy tools to measure the exact amounts of liquids you need for your cocktail.

 Bar spoon: To stir your cocktails or to measure small amounts of liquids, a bar spoon is your best friend.

 Muddler: Some cocktails require muddled fresh fruits, a muddler is the cocktail tool to use.

 Strainer: If you need to strain your cocktail from the shaker in the glass, you can use a strainer to strain out big chunks of ice or leftovers from fruits or herbs.

 Mexican Elbow: Another useful cocktail tool is the Mexican Elbow or a citrus squeezer. With this cocktail essential, you definitely get the most juice out of your lemons, limes or oranges.



Glassware to serve your cocktail

Every cocktail requires its own glass, so this is definitely an essential ingredient that can’t be missed when making cocktails at home. Again, there are many different glasses, but we feel that if you have a small amount of the following, you should be good to go.

 Martini glass: To serve your Martini cocktails in, obviously, but also modern classics like the Cosmopolitan.

 Rocks or Old Fashioned glass: This firm, solid glass whit a thick bottom is used for cocktails with lots of ice. You can also use it to muddle in fruits or stirring ingredients.

 Copa Glass: The large copa glasses are used for many carbonized cocktails, like a Gin & Tonic as it gives the cocktail enough space to sparkle.

 Highball or longdrink glass: Best used for cocktails served with ice. The shape of the glass is perfect to keep you cocktail nice and cool.


Fresh fruits to add even more flavour and looks

We have a number one rule, when it comes to fruits: always use fresh fruits or fresh fruit juices! This makes your cocktail so much better. We promise!

Not only do you use fresh citrus fruits to balance out the flavour of the cocktail with a little sour touch, but you can also use them as a garnish. The same goes for any other kind of fruit. Fruits are really essential cocktail ingredients if you want to make the most flavourful and good-looking cocktails!


Photo by Vanessa Loring via Pexels

Here you have it, the most important cocktail essentials you need to create the best cocktails at home! Ready for your next cocktail party? Check out our Cocktail Gallery for tons of cocktail recipes.

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