All About Cocktails


Celebrate World Cocktail Day with our brief guide to these delicious wonders, including their origins and development over time, tips that will help you make your cocktails taste and look the business, and recipes for some of the UK's favorite cocktails to try out and enjoy at home.

The History of Cocktails

The exact origin of cocktails is unclear, but it is thought that modern cocktails developed from classic British punch recipes that involved mixing spirits, fruit juice, and spices in large bowls. The first recorded mention of the word 'cocktail' came in print in 1798 before, in 1806, The Balance and Columbian Repository of Hudson, New York, formally defined a cocktail as a "stimulating liquor composed of spirits of any kind, sugar, water, and bitters."

In the couple of centuries that have followed, various people and bartenders have contributed to shaping the cocktail landscape we know today; from Count Camillo Negroni, who requested that bartender Fosco Scarselli make his Americano using gin instead of soda water, thus giving birth to the Negroni, to John Henry Martini, who is said to have gotten rich during the Gold Rush of the 1850s and saw his favorite drink of gin and vermouth given an extra twist of lemon and bitters by his bartender during his celebrations. Developments continue to occur in more modern times; the Aperol Spritz was developed in the early 2000s and has quickly become one of the world's best-known cocktails.

Tips on Making the Best of Your Cocktails

If you are experimenting with cocktail-making at home, there are a few must-dos to check off to ensure your cocktail looks and tastes as show-stopping as possible;

A bar counter with two SPIEGELAU Perfect Serve Collection glasses. The SOF glass is filled with an orange colored drink and an orange zest, the longdrink glass is filled with clear cocktail drink, ice cubes, rosemary and a lemon zest. In the background a hand, holding another filled SOF glass.<br/>

The taste

First is making sure your cocktail tantalizes your tastebuds. If you are playing around with new, off-the-cuff recipes, it helps to know the base ingredients that make up many of our favorite cocktails. A reliable way of trying out cocktails while giving yourself a good chance of concocting something tasty is to learn the following standard cocktail components:

  • an alcohol portion - usually a spirit, such as gin, vodka, rum, or whiskey
  • a citrus base - for example, lemon or lime juice
  • a sweetener, such as syrup or granulated sugar.

These three core components are present in many of the world's best-known cocktails. For example, a Whiskey Sour combines bourbon, lemon juice, and granulated sugar, while a Mojito consists of white rum, lime juice, and sugar before being topped with soda water. The list is so long that developing something new might be tricky, but the fun is in the experimenting!

The cocktail glasses of the SPIEGELAU Perfect Serve Collection, all filled with specific cocktails. The Perfect Coupette glass on the left and the Perfect Cocktail glass on the right.


Once you're a whizz at building your cocktails, the next step to making them stand out is presentation. For this, there are a few key factors to consider:

  • Use garnishes to your advantage. A little garnish can transform the look of a cocktail, turning it from a run-of-the-mill, plain-looking drink into an eye-catching, colorful beverage just begging to be sipped. Colors can even improve our mood and cognitive function, so it's hard to think of a good reason not to add suitable garnish to your cocktail.
    Like with glassware, always use appropriate garnish for your drink, as the wrong garnish can negatively impact its flavor. Most cocktail recipes will explicitly say the correct garnish to use, but if the one you're following doesn't, you can use the base ingredients in your drink as a guide for which garnish will work well with your cocktail. For example, if your cocktail uses lemon juice as its citrus base, using a slice of lemon as garnish is a safe option to go with.
  • Use high-quality crystal glassware. Fine crystal glassware adds a touch of elegance to a cocktail, helping it to sparkle in the light. No matter how well you do everything else, a cocktail in a plastic cup will never look as good as one in a crystal glass. As well as the brilliance it adds, crystal glassware is more durable than regular glass, making it a wise choice if you're looking for glassware that can stay at its best for longer. The superior quality of crystal glass underlines why all Spiegelau Glassware is made from this material - to deliver elegant, functional, and durable glassware for any drinking occasion. 
  • Use the appropriate glass. Some cocktails just look right in a specific style of glass. We love an Old Fashioned, but we may raise an eyebrow at one served in a Martini glass. So, whenever you serve up a drink, confirm which vessel is best for it. The Spiegelau Perfect Serve Collection was designed with award-winning bar expert Stephan Hinz to provide an expertly crafted and sized glassware series with suitable glassware for accommodating any cocktail. 
  • Make sure your glass is properly cleaned and polished. Even the slightest smudge mark can ruin your drink's visual appeal. Ensuring you properly clean and polish your cocktail glass using a clean microfibre polishing cloth before using will give it that unspoiled, pristine sparkle that will dazzle guests.

Once you've nailed making expertly-crafted cocktails that look as good as they taste, you'll be all set up to well and truly show off to your guests once your turn to host rolls around again.

Irresistible cocktails you can enjoy at home

If you're putting on an evening or barbecue for guests, knowing recipes for some of the UK's favorite cocktails can be handy. We have a host of popular cocktail recipes on our website for you to try out that are perfect for enjoying from your Spiegelau Perfect Serve glasses:

With all that, you should have all the know-how you need to cement yourself as the cocktail expert among your friendship group.