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How to Understand a Cocktail Menu like a Real Expert

por Elsie Mendez Enriquez

The offer of cocktail bars in Mexico City has increased so much in the last years, that we are on The World’s 50 Best Bars list. That’s to say something! The point here is that, when you get in one of these places with you friends, it is normal to feel overwhelmed and struggle to understand all the cocktails and their ingredients in the menu.

menú de coctelería

We want to help you to avoid this situation, so we asked a bartender expert that will descipher all the terms and names that are given to these products and ingredients for us, so that we understand better the cocktail world. However, we would like to remind you that the important thing about cocktails is not undeerstanding what they are, but dare to try new cocktails, and if the doubts prevail, there’s always the waiter or bartender to help you.

Guide for a cocktail menu’s terms

aperitivos, menú de coctelería

Aperitif – They are drinks that increases appetite. They have a particular sour taste, and are obtained through destilation or herbs and citric fruits maceration. They are generally wines, such as sherry, vermú or vermouth, champagne, among others.


Bitters, menú de coctelería

Bitter – Many cocktails contain this ingredient. It is  drink that is prepared from the mix of various herbs and spices. It is a sour beverage, and the most common one is usually made from plants such as angostura, gentian, cassia or fruit peels.


Coulis – A classic French recipe that is also used in bakery. It consists of a sauce or fruit puree, additionally added with alcohol. The most common are strawberry ones, mango and kiwi.


Dash – A measured based on the bartender’s judgement, an equivalent to what we know as “pinch”, in cooking.


Digestif – Drinks which, differently from the apertitifs, have a high concentration of sugar and help the digestive process. Some of them do not have alcohol, such as herbal teas and brews, and the ones that do have, are destilated from liqueur or schnapps.


Doble casting or fine casting – The name is a reference to the technique used by the bartender when a clean aspect, or translucent aspect is desired for the mix. It is done with the help of a fine strainer that retains the used ingredient’s texture. This way, it will be completely liquid, just as a Martini.


Dry – You will see this word before the name of many drinks, and it means that the preparation of the cocktail will be reduced in sugar, and will have a dry flavor.


Garnish – It refers to the glass’ decoration. Generally, the same main ingredient of the mix is used for it, such as fruits, peels or chopsticks, tiny umbrellas and strwas.


Tonic- Even if it looks common, it is little known that tonic water is a carbonated soda with quinine, an alkaloid with a sour taste that is obtained from the Quina tree. Along with other ingredients, such as lemon, it hightens the flavor of some destilated drinks, like tequila in the Ultra Tonic.


aperitivo, menú de coctelería

Twist – The classic lemon twist. A single cut in some citric’s skin, which gives us a spiral to aromatize our cocktail, obtaining its oils and to give our drink an acid touch.


Maceration – Some ingredients, like herbs, spices or fruits are rested during a long time period, in a liquid to obtain their total properties. It is the equivalent to “marinate” food in cooking.

Óleo saccharum – It is easier than its pronunciation, and it is a sugary oil that is obtained from extracting essential oils from some citrics’ peel, such as lemon or orange, that also combines spices, and undergo at low heat.

Take this code everywhere and be confident of your new knowledge. Don´t forget to follow us on Instagram where we always have recommendations about places to eat at, and where to drink great cocktails.

Remember to drink responsibly.

Unleash your inner bartender and prepare these delicious cocktails

Receta Coctel de sandia con tequila blanco y menta

Receta de Tequila infusionado con chiles guajillos

Receta de Margarita Blood Orange


This post is also available in: Español

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