What does ‘craft cocktail’ mean to you?

Let us share our own definition of a craft cocktail. We see a lot of bars, mobile and otherwise offering what they call ‘craft cocktails’, however the reality can be very different and the phrase often overused or misunderstood.

Not all that glitters is gold!!..

The term ‘craft cocktail’ has become a buzz word, used to attract customers and create the feeling of a superior drink experience that portrays the use of quality ingredients created with expert knowledge and skill. What we find often though is that whilst these drinks may at first look like a cocktail, they are what we’d call more of a mixed drink or even a pre-mixed drink. These drinks often offer no real balance of flavour and are usually sugar filled, overly sweet and lacking in alcohol content!

So what makes a true craft cocktail?

At Sip ’n’ Swig we believe every cocktail should be created with quality ingredients, carefully considered ratios of spirits, fresh juices and unique syrups to ensure the flavours are correctly balanced. Then the finished master piece garnished and freshly served in the correct glassware.


Here are the elements Sip ’n’ Swig believe make a true craft cocktail

 1. Expert knowledge and craftsmanship – The skills, techniques and knowledge of flavours is key to perfecting a craft cocktail. Each individual cocktail should be curated with the right ingredients and the right ratios to ensure balanced flavours. Handcrafted cocktails may be based on classic cocktails but the ingredients and ratios will be carefully considered by each cocktail bartender or mixologist to create their own unique variation.  Having this expertise is essential to creating unique craft cocktails, as opposed to simply following a recipe. At Sip ‘n’ Swig, Giles is the cocktail creator, using his training and experience, he ensures each recipe that all of our staff follow is perfected and as such, you get a consistent cocktail every time.

2. Premium fresh ingredients and garnishes – Quality premium ingredients are key, if poor ingredients are used, unbranded bulk buy spirits for example, the quality of the drink will be compromised. At Sip ’n’ Swig we like to use products and spirits that are unique and love to champion small and upcoming brands.  It is important to us as a small business to support other small businesses where we can. As a customer, tasting new and innovative flavours is all part of their unique drink experience.

3. Preparation – Handcrafted to us means that thought has gone into creating the cocktail in advance and not put together in the spur of the moment and always then made fresh to order.

This stage can include researching new ingredients, trialling the flavours until the ratios are just right, it’s all about balancing flavours. The curation stage can be anything from working to a brief for a specific coloured cocktail to match a company’s brand or the inclusion of a specific ingredient such as – herbs or fruit grown on site, a seasonal cocktail or use of a specific spirit. 

4. Presentation – The right glassware for the right cocktail is important for many reasons, the shape of the glass affects how you hold it, which in turn affects the temperature of the drink. Certain glasses will aid the aroma of the cocktail, some will hold more ice and others better for drinks which are shaken and require no ice.

Ultimately it’s important to know which shape and style best suits the individual cocktail both from a presentation perspective and taste.

Once you’ve tasted a truly great craft cocktail you’ll definitely remember it!

When all the elements come together they should always elevate the overall flavour of the cocktail and enhance the drink, making it an experience in itself.

If you’re a cocktail fan and have been lucky enough to experience a freshly made ‘craft cocktail’ by an expert in the field then you’ll know the difference! We are definitely not a stock them high and get them out quick, nor are we a bar who uses pre-mixed cocktails.  If you’ve had a Sip’n’ Swig cocktail you’ll definitely remember it, Giles is Savoy trained and trains all the staff to a high standard and to his own recipes.

Make sure you’re getting the quality of cocktail you deserve!

Next time you fancy a cocktail or you’re planning an event bar and looking for cocktails, we hope that this blog will give you some food for thought on whether you’re truly getting a ‘Craft Cocktail’. It is always worth asking your potential suppliers a few more questions about how they create and serve their cocktails, to ensure you know what you are getting and if you’re comparing like for like!