Reinventing the Classic Cocktails

twisting classic cocktails into the signature cocktailsSince the cocktail craft movement, many people still think that creating cocktails that you can find in the high-end cocktail bars is somehow unobtainable or out of this reality. Often excuse is that ”I don’t have that kind of knowledge or equipment to do it”.

But I have a good news for you, if you can measure all the ingredients in those a little cups, shake it very well with ice then you too can create the greatest cocktails invented by a mankind. 

Here you will explore one of the simplest methods how you can take your classic cocktail recipe and turn it into a modern craft cocktail.

But before that, there are a few things that you should know before you get started:

Don’t think of classic cocktail recipes as a rule that needs to be strictly adhered to. Classics are important to understand structure, techniques and how flavours work together. Although adhering to the recipes that were created a while ago may cause two things. Building social habits and creating common misconceptions. You can get the right taste of your classic cocktails with a few tweaking techniques that I will mention below in this article.

The origins of classic cocktails are often a mystery with different theories claiming that they invented the cocktail. Nevertheless, I’ve created the infographic about classic cocktails and how they evolved in a history with their original recipe. I’ve included mainly the recipes that are perceived and still famous until today. So, it will give you an idea how the original recipe differs from the current version.

Disclaimer: The dates and recipes may vary slightly, simply because there is no proven record of a year when it was invented and there are obviously different opinions about the origins from the cocktail historians.

history and evolution of classic cocktail recipes infographic

Classic cocktails with a twist

Think about it for a second, how the modern craft cocktails were invented?

The mixologists or Cocktail Creators will either swap some ingredient for another in already established cocktails or add a secret ingredient to the cocktail recipe which will enhance and modify it into a completely new invention.

Let’s go through both of these methods.


You can go through the method of trial and error if you are not too confident with knowledge of different types of spirits and other ingredients. Simply, because there are no rules in the world of cocktails and everything was pretty much made up.

You are not trying to reinvent the wheel but you take an ingredient and replace it with a similar looking and tasting like ingredient as a piece of a puzzle.

There is a good chance that you will invent a new cocktail if you follow the certain guidelines:

  1. Firstly, pick your favourite cocktail recipe.
  2. Choose an ingredient that you’ve intended to swap, it can be anything from a base spirit, liqueur, vermouth, mixer or garnish.
  3. Try to replace it with an ingredient in the same category but that’s not the rule.
  4. Think about how the original cocktail tastes like and what flavour would you like to change it to.
  5. Don’t forget to use common sense if it makes sense in compare to other ingredients in the cocktail.
  6. Every single ingredient is different so just changing piece for piece might not always work, so adjust the amount of your particular ingredient if needed.
  7. I encourage you to start swapping one ingredient at the time per cocktail. Once you build a confidence then this method let you to completely transform a classic cocktail into the signature one.


The second method is about adding an extra layer of flavour, texture or complexity and depth to a drink. There are a few options how you can do that.

All the ingredients have a specific flavour and texture and should be used only in the small amount. This way you can transform the drink without changing the base of the cocktail.

By the way, there is another perspective on the thing what characterises a cocktail, cocktail connoisseurs call it a modifier which was firstly defined in David Embury’s The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks, from 1948.

If you’re still not sure or looking for an example of these methods then go through the articles below including a bit of history and cocktail recipes.

Evolution of Martini Cocktail

Classic Martini Recipes

Evolution of Negroni Cocktail

Evolution of Old Fashioned Cocktail

Evolution of Daiquiri Cocktail

Evolution of Bloody Mary Cocktail

Shake, Roll or Throw your Bloody Mary cocktail?

Evolution of Margarita cocktail