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Creating a Cocktail Around a Specific Product

Creating a Cocktail Around a Specific Product

There are a lot of reasons why you might be making a cocktail to use a specific liquor. Maybe you’re working with a liquor brand to promote their product. Maybe your restaurant got a killer deal on one liquor if they bought a case of another. Regardless, here are some ideas on how you can build a cocktail starting with a particular base spirit.


Step by Step:Apple Cinnamon Bourbon Cocktail

Get to Know Each Other

The first thing you need to do is get acquainted with your spirit. What does it taste like? What’s the ABV? Is it sweet, spicy, herbal, floral, etc.? See if you can taste it and start to identify any key flavors.

Tips for Identifying Flavors:

  • Taste at room temperature
  • Add water a few drops at a time to lower the proof and allow you to taste past the alcohol
  • If all else fails, don’t be afraid to do some online research and look up tasting notes.

Case Study: Cinnamon Apple Swizzle

In our example, I’m looking to use a Cinnamon infused Bourbon.

  1. I tasted the bourbon and noticed hard spices and rich flavors, in addition to the cinnamon
  2. I decided to also work with hard apple cider, as I know it goes well with the cinnamon flavor.
  3. Since I know I’m using Hard Apple cider, that helped me choose the Swizzle as my cocktail family, as it has soda water that I know I can replace with Cider.
  4. Time to map it out!
    Product Cocktail Screenshot 1
  5. Looking at this drink, I could already tell that it will have a ton of flavor, more alcohol than I’d usually like and heavy acidity coming from both the cider and the lemon juice. So I’m going to adjust a few variables to try to balance it before actually making the drink.
    Product Cocktail Screenshot 2
  6. As you can see I’ve reduced the Bourbon and lemon juice and everything else is unchanged. This should reduce the flavor, alcohol and acidity – exactly what we needed.
  7. Time to make the drink and Garnish! I chose to garnish with a melon-balled apple coated in a cinnamon sugar mixture.


The resulting cocktail was extremely close to the balance I was looking for. The only adjustment I needed was to add one dash of bitters to increase the depth of flavor and highlight the cinnamon flavor of the bourbon. We got so close on our first attempt because I’d mapped it out in advance and likely saved myself throwing away a “first draft” if I had just tried to guess.

This drink was a little trickier because it did require an adjustment, but only one was needed. On the next page we’re going to show you what it can be like to create two different cocktails with several iterations.