8 Common Cocktail Making Mistakes and How to Avoid Them

Over 80% of people in the United States over the age of 18 have had alcohol before. Many people enjoy having a cocktail now and again.

It may seem like making a cocktail is simple, but it’s really an art form. The process requires a balance of flavors, precise measurements, and attention to detail.

Whether you’re a beginner or an experienced mixologist, it’s easy to make a mistake mixing up these drinks. Too much of an ingredient or the wrong equipment can compromise the quality and taste of your cocktails.

The best way to make a delicious cocktail is by understanding what you can do wrong. Once you know how to avoid common cocktail-making mistakes, you’ll know how to whip up a drink like the pros. With our guide, you’ll be on your way to creating delicious cocktails that are sure to impress.

1. Eyeballing Ingredients

When making cocktails at home, it can be tempting to guess the amounts of the ingredients you’ll need. This could be a death wish on your perfect cocktail.

Cocktail-making requires attention to detail. You’ll want to measure each ingredient that goes into the drink. Failing to do so can cause your cocktail to taste off.

2. Ignoring Directions

When it comes to shaking and stirring cocktails, there are rules to follow. Not knowing which cocktails to stir and which to shake is a common mistake many beginners make. 

If you are making a cocktail that uses vodka, whiskey, gin, or rum, avoid shaking them. You’ll disrupt the flavor of the cocktail. 

You’ll want to shake any cocktail with citrus, dairy, or egg white in it. Shaking these cocktails will blend the ingredients better than stirring well. 

Muddling is another cocktail direction you shouldn’t ignore. If your cocktail uses any fresh herbs or fruit, you’ll need to muddle them to get the best flavor.

3. Getting the Ice Right

It may not seem like it, but the ice that you use can make or break your cocktail. The smaller the cube, the watery the cocktail.

The ice for cocktails is better when it’s bigger. Buy an ice mold that creates extra large ice-cubes. The ice will melt much slower than regular-sized ice.

If you want to kick up your cocktail ice a notch, boil the water for the cubes first. The boiling process removes air from the water. This gets your ice super cold.

If you don’t feel like boiling water, pay attention to the water you’re using. Bottled water will create purer ice cubes that melt at a slower rate.

4. Using Old Ingredients

Many basic cocktail ingredients don’t last forever. The same goes for the spirits that you’re using. Double-check expiration dates before you make your cocktails.

5. Not Enough Equipment

A key part of the cocktail preparation process is getting the right equipment to use. You’ll need some basic equipment to make many delicious types of cocktails.


You use a cocktail shaker to mix and chill ingredients together. This tool usually consists of a metal or glass container with a strainer and a cap.

Mixing Glass

Mixing glasses are an alternative to a shaker. You’ll use this for stirring cocktails. It comes with a clear glass base so you can see the ingredients as you mix them.


A jigger is a measuring tool used to ensure perfect measurements of ingredients. Usually, it has two cups with different sizes at each end. This allows you to measure both small and large amounts of ingredients.

Bar Spoon

You’ll need this long-handled bar spoon for stirring cocktails in mixing glasses. This spoon keeps the ingredients from breaking apart as you mix.


You’ll use a muddle to crush certain ingredients together. You’ll use this tool for fruits, herbs, or sugar cubes in the bottom of a glass or shaker. It releases the flavors and aromas of the ingredients into the cocktail.

Citrus Juicer

A citrus juicer comes in handy for getting fresh juice from lemons, limes, or oranges. Fresh citrus juice adds a vibrant flavor to many cocktails.

Ice Bucket and Tongs

An ice bucket keeps your ice cubes nice and cold during your cocktail preparation. You use the tongs to handle ice.

6. The Wrong Glass

It may not seem like the glass makes a big difference to the drink, but they do. Certain cocktails need specific glasses. 

The shape and size of the glass can enhance the flavor. They can also help keep ice from melting and give you a watery drink.

You also don’t want to serve your drink in a warm glass. Cocktails almost always taste better when they’re cold.

7. Lackluster Presentation

The final presentation is all part of the cocktail experience. One way to jazz up your cocktail is by adding a final garnish.

Lemon, orange, or lime peels look great on many kinds of cocktails. Have this trio on hand when you’re making cocktails to create the perfect final touch.

8. Wrong Food and Drink Pairing

If you’ve spent a lot of time making your cocktails, you’ll want to serve them with the right food. Not every spirit works with every type of dish.

If you’re having seafood, cheese, or meat, go for a whiskey-based drink. Lighter fare does well with gin drinks. Cured meats or salads pair perfectly with vodka.

Are you thinking about a Caribbean-style menu of chicken and fish? Rum is the way to go for this kind of food. Click for coconut rum cocktails that are sure to impress your guests.

Dont Let Common Cocktail-Making Mistakes Ruin Your Event

When you avoid these common cocktail-making mistakes, you’ll be well on your way to creating cocktails that amaze your guests. Don’t forget to have fun while making your cocktails. Try new techniques and ingredients and have a great time doing it.

Cocktails are a great item to have at your next event. If you need help with your planning, you’ve come to the right place. Check out our other Entertainment articles for inspiration today!



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I'm Jethro. I'm a carpenter, and love to build things! You can find me in the garage or at work most days of the week.My sister is Crystal, who you might know from this very blog. Her son Johnny loves video games just as much as I do - so we have a lot of fun playing together!

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