How to Remember Drink Recipes (5 Pro Tips)

Friends enjoying an outdoor cocktail party

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Have you ever hosted a party where someone asked you to make a cocktail you’ve never heard of? You probably panicked a little as your mind went blank and you realized that you had no idea what ingredients were needed or how to make the drink.

Have no fear… your good friends at Swizzle Club have you covered. We’ll show you how to remember drink recipes like a pro!

This article outlines five practical tips to help you memorize several popular drink recipes so that next time you’re faced with thirsty guests, you’ll be able to serve up a variety of cocktails with flair and ease!

Tip #1: Find Out Which Cocktails Your Friends Like

While you’re planning your next party, there is a secret technique you can use to ensure that you have everything you need to make the perfect drink for every guest.

Some of your friends might be cocktail purists and only drink gin and tonics. Others might like to switch it up between vodka sodas and margaritas with salt on the rim. Wouldn’t it be great if there was an easy way to find out which cocktails each of your friends like best?

Well, there is… all you have to do is ask.

Let your friends know that you’re planning to make a few cocktails at your next “get together” and ask them what they like to drink. Armed with this knowledge, you can research your friends’ favorite libations, make sure you have all of the ingredients, and memorize those specific drink recipes.

By preparing in advance, you’ll have all of the ingredients on hand, you’ll know how to make your friends’ favorite drinks, and you’ll impress everyone with your bartending skills!

Tip #2: Use Flash Cards to Memorize Cocktail Recipes

Do you have a hard time remembering how to make your friends’ favorite drinks? Get some flash cards and start practicing!

Believe it or not, there is actually research that says using flashcards can help in the process of memorizing new information. You can leverage this tried and true method to get your friends’ drink recipes down pat so you’re ready for your next social gathering.

When it comes to flash cards, you can go the DIY route and make your own. Simply invest in a pack of 3” x 5” index cards, write the name of the cocktail on one side, and list the ingredients on the other.

You can also buy a set of flash cards. I especially like this set of 100 Cocktail Cards on Amazon. Every cocktail is beautifully photographed on one side of the card; an ingredient list and detailed instructions for making the drink are on the other.

Bartender Flashcards: 100 Cocktail Cards

100 Cocktail Cards

Tip #3: Use Mnemonic Devices to Quickly Recall Drink Recipes

Many professional bartenders use mnemonic devices to remember cocktail recipes but what are mnemonic devices exactly? Do they take batteries?

A mnemonic device is a word, phrase, or image used to help someone remember a list of items. They can be very useful when trying to memorize long lists of things – like which ingredients go into a cocktail!

Here’s a mnemonic device people commonly use help them remember the planets in our solar system.


If this list looks strange to you, it might be because Pluto is missing. The International Astronomical Union downgraded Pluto’s status to a “dwarf planet” back in 2006.


Now let’s look at a couple of examples involving cocktails. Here’s a popular mnemonic to help you remember the ingredients in a Cosmopolitan:

The Cosmo is a Very Classy Liquor Choice.

V = 1 1/2 oz of Vodka

C = 1/4 oz of Cointreau

L = 1/4 oz of Lime Juice

C = 1/4 oz of Cranberry Juice

Here’s a mnemonic to help you recall the ingredients in a Bay Breeze.

The Bay Breeze feels Very Pleasant and Cool

V = 2oz of Vodka

P = 3oz of Pineapple Juice

C = 3oz of Cranberry Juice

Check out the full recipes for both of these drinks in Cape Codder: Another Name for a Vodka Cranberry.

Artful photograph of a cocktail glass

Tip #4: Get to Know Your Cocktail Families

Once you realize that many cocktails are related, it becomes much easier to remember their ingredients and how to make them. Many times you can create a different drink by switching out a single ingredient.

Here are some popular cocktail families you should get to know!

Stirred Cocktails

Stirred cocktails are spirit forward drinks that are easy to make. They only contain a few ingredients and don’t require any special equipment like a cocktail shaker or a strainer.

Drinks in this category include the Old Fashioned, the Sazerac, and the Manhattan.


Sour cocktails are drinks that have something acidic, something sweet, and something strong. Citrus juices, like lemon or lime, make up the acidic part. The sweetener is usually a syrup while a spirit like whiskey, rum, or tequila provide the strong!

Sours include classic cocktails like the daiquiri, whiskey sour, or mojito.


Highballs are cocktails composed of an alcoholic spirit base with a larger portion of a non-alcoholic mixer, served in a tall glass over ice. Iconic highballs include the gin and tonic, Moscow mule, or scotch and soda.

Tip #5: Practice Making Cocktails for Your Friends

If you want to be the best home bartender you possibly can be, there is no substitute for practice!

Once you have memorized your friends’ favorite cocktails and you’ve set your home bar up for your next social event, you’ll just need lots of practice making cocktails for your friends.

I don’t think anyone will object!

By Michael

Chief mixologist and cocktail enthusiast at Swizzle Club.