What Is a Craft Cocktail? - Big Cypress Distillery
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What Is a Craft Cocktail?

What Is a Craft Cocktail?

If you are frequenting the neo-speakeasy establishments that are thankfully popping up around the country, you likely had a few craft cocktails, hopefully made with a little craft whiskey. If you are not frequenting the neo-speakeasy, it is time you consider giving one or a few a try.


We often hear terms that are not fully understood and seldom explained. In this article I will give you my interpretation of what a craft cocktail is, where to get one in Miami, and reference two good books on the topic.

A craft cocktail is a cocktail where almost every detail used is specifically designed or handmade for the given cocktail. I say almost everything since mass liquor producers are not craft producers, but many still make a fine spirit or liquor that goes very well with a craft cocktail. The craft cocktail could be simple or complex. One of my favorite cocktails is the Sazerac and the Manhattan, and those are very simple cocktails. There are craft spirits. I am particular to craft whiskey, but I am biased. Craft spirits can be used in the mixing of craft cocktails, and some of them are fine, but not necessarily needed for a craft cocktail. I will write an article on craft spirits especially craft American whiskey at a later time.

The craft Cocktail starts with using the proper glassware; for instance, a properly sized coupe instead of a 12+ ounces monstrous martini glass for a Manhattan or a Martinez.

The size and shapes of the ice cubes are also a very important aspect of the craft cocktail. The bar tender shines when he or she uses the proper ice cube(s). The reasons why are outside the scope of this writing, but it’s mainly due to melting rate and dilution, plus they look cool to boot.

The craft cocktail is also made from high quality and almost always-homemade syrups and garnishes. No craft cocktail should ever have one of the store purchased bleached out maraschino cherries in it; as the matter of fact, those cherries should be illegal. When the recipe calls for a cherry, maybe a brandied cherry or similar should be used.

Some folks believe that the bitters or tinctures also need to be home made, or at least made by craft or artisanal bitters companies. While I appreciate all types of bitters, and the craft/small batch bitters are great and certainly part of my bitters collection, I believe that when the recipe calls for an aromatic bitter, one can use Peychaud’s or Angostura bitters in a craft cocktail without affecting the quality of the drink. The fact is that tradition should still be able to play a role in craft cocktails.

Most bartenders, that specialize in craft cocktails, like to infuse their own spirits to create different flavors to create the perfect balanced cocktail. A small group of creative bartenders even further rest some of their spirits in different types of wood to add to the complexity of the spirit being used in the bar.

Ultimately, craft cocktails are made with attention to detail and taking pride of the fact that every item and ingredient was hand selected for the purpose of that one cocktail, and many were handmade either by a craft company or at the bar it self. In my opinion, a craft cocktail needs to be a perfect balance of appearance, temperature, feel, and taste.

If you want to do some further reading on craft and traditional cocktails, I recommend the following books. Although there are many great books on the topic, the two books below are very informative and fun to read.

-The Devil’s Acre by Duggan McDonnell
The Curious Bartender by Tristan Stephenson.

There are many great bars in Miami, and some incredible and talented bar tenders. I am going to mention just one of the many bars that I recommend for someone looking to get a good craft cocktail. Give Radio a shot; it is located at 814 1st St. Miami Beach, FL 33139

I would like to know what your definition of a craft cocktail is, and what are your favorite places to order one.

#‎MiamiCraftSpirits‬ #MiamiCraftWhiskey #MiamiCraftRum