The KegWorks Guide to Cocktail Ingredients

The beauty of the cocktail universe is this: your possibilities are damn near endless. The vast permutations created by the interplay between a limited number of participating ingredients is staggering. 

Of course, sometimes things can get confusing in the world of cocktail ingredients.  Which is why we present the KegWorks Guide to Cocktail Ingredients! In one easy to digest infographic, we’ve presented all the information you need to distinguish the differences between bitters, mixers, and syrups that are meant to play nice with your booze. And if you find it helpful, don’t forget to check out the KegWorks Guide to Bar Tools.


cocktail bitters


What Are They?

An alcoholic liquid in which roots and botanicals have been steeped to concentrate their flavors and aromas. 

Bitters are used as essential flavoring agents in mixed drinks. You might think of them as the salt and pepper of the cocktail world.

Typical Serving Size

1 to 2 dashes

Where Do I Use Them?

Biters are key to countless classic cocktails. Here’s a few to try at home:

  • Manhattan
  • Old Fashioned
  • Sazerac


cocktail shrubsShrubs

What Are They?

An acidic mixture of fruit, sugar, vinegar, and aromatics that brightens any drink. Shrubs were popular in colonial America as a way of preserving fruit before refrigeration. Today, they play well with pretty much any spirit you like sipping.

Typical Serving Size

½ to ¾ ounce

How Do I Use Them?

Pair a shrub of your choice with a complementary base spirit, liqueur or aperitif, and bitters. For example, a grapefruit shrub would work nicely with tequila, ginger liqueur, and lime bitters. Or trying using a shrub in place of orange juice in your next mimosa.

Cocktail syrupsSyrups

What Are They?

A liquid sweetener that, unlike sugar crystals, dissolves thoroughly in warm and cold beverages. Syrups may be infused with any number of fruits, herbs, and spices to add flavor as well as sweeten cocktails and other drinks, like coffee. Grenadine, made from pomegranates, and orgeat, made from almonds, are two common examples.

Typical Serving Size

½ to 1 ounce

Where Do I Use Them?

Once classic application of syrup is in a Hurricane. Simply shake 1 ounce of passion fruit syrup with 2 ounces of dark rum and 1 ounce of fresh lemon juice. Strain over ice.

cocktail syrups


What Are They?

Ready-to-use and hassle-free, mixers are pre-measured with the spices, sweeteners, and flavors you need to turn a glass of booze into a professional-tasting cocktail. They are like cake mix, except you end up with a cocktail instead of cake. Just add liquor!

Typical Serving Size

8 to 10 ounces

Where Do I Use Them?

Mixers for Bloody Marys and Margaritas are par for the course, but you can also find high-quality, handcrafted mixers for drinks as diverse as a Smoked Honey Whiskey Sour or Tom Collins With Elderflower and Hops

cocktail sodas and tonicSpecialty Sodas & Tonics

What Are They?

Premium carbonated beverages featuring tight bubbles and crisp, clean flavors. Once you’ve made a cocktail with tonic water, club soda, or ginger beer made from all-natural ingredients, you’ll never go back to the other stuff.

Typical Serving Size

4 to 8 ounces

Where Do I Use Them?

They’re essential to some of your refreshing favorites. Here’s a few to try at home:

  • Gin & Tonic
  • Moscow Mule
  • Paloma




  • Fred Andres August 12, 2018 @ 11:53am

    Like to buy a recipe book but can not find .

    • Chris September 25, 2018 @ 10:29am

      Hi Fred,

      You came to the right place. We have lots of recipe books for cocktails, and many that incorporate food recipes in as well. We’re getting a bunch more this holiday season, too, so be sure to check out the site again in a few weeks for even more!

  • Barbara February 26, 2020 @ 9:22pm

    Looking for Filthy black cherries….do you carry those?

    • Dave Buchanan February 27, 2020 @ 9:21am

      Hi Barbara, unfortunately, we don’t currently carry Filthy Black Cherries.

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