Amsterdam Tea Room


In an attempt to de-mystify the always delightful but often murky path to cocktail enlightenment, we present four basic cocktail categories:



These categories are intended to simplify the thinking behind building drinks — to help home mixology become an approachable, everyday activity.

Our approach — to break down our favorites to their bones — aims to help budding bartenders understand the structure behind the drinks, so that recreating fancy stuff seems less daunting. That Red Bush you tried at the Amsterdam Tea Room and Bar — it’s just a three-parter! And if you can make a Daiquiri (hint: It’s a sour), you can make a Bee’s Knees too.

Know the basics, and you can begin to build your own recipes using myriad global ingredients and flavours. Here we present the four essential formulas, complete with the whys and how’s. Plus, when you are navigating our tea cocktail menu, we have indicated beside each cocktail which category it falls under.



Sours contain citrus juice, should be tart (or at least tangy or balanced) and are usually shaken in a cocktail shaker and served straight up. Fresh squeezed juices are critical here, paired with simple syrup to sweeten. Sidecars, Margaritas, Cosmopolitans and the newly revived favorite Last Word can all be considered sours.



Fizzes include anything with bubbles — highballs, Champagne cocktails, Collinses, Mules, Bucks. These drinks can be incredibly simple and are clearly the most refreshing. Plus, it is not difficult to keep a few six-packs of sodas and bottles of basic booze in your liquor cabinet. Throw in a few lemons and limes, and you can whip up a Moscow mule, a rye and ginger, a Campari, gin and tonic, a Mojito, a Tom Collins or a Paloma anytime you like.

All refrigerators should hold a bottle of Prosecco or Cava to celebrate life’s special moments in the moment. And those bubbles make a great addition to dozens of cocktails built from bar basics. Add peach nectar for a Bellini, pomegranate, or cranberry juice for fun pink drinks, or go classic with a French 75.


Old Fashioned

These old school short cocktails are simply sweetened liquor zipped up with something bitter. The sweet can come from sugar, muddled with fruit or tea simmered into syrup, or a sweeter liqueur like triple sec or maraschino. The bitter can be a few dashes of any of a vast variety of bottled bitters, these guys are potent, and when properly balanced, perfect.


Three Partners

These drinks are the most spirit-forward of the collection, a three-part combo of booze plus what’s known as a “modifier” (a lower-alcohol ingredient like vermouth) plus a bitter. Here we find the beloved Martini, Manhattan, Brooklyn, Negroni, Boulevardier, Rob Roy and all of their bold and boozy cousins.


Pro Tips

Ingredients:  The days of hiding cheap liquor and bargain mixers in cocktails are long over.  Stock your home bar with the best spirits you can afford, and use fresh, top-quality ingredients – your drinks will shine brighter than ever.  Fresh, clean ice is important – make it or purchase ice frequently.  And be sure to garnish your creations simply and appropriately.

Glassware:  A variety of glassware can be fun but limiting your collection to a couple of simple shapes (highball, lowball / rocks, wine glass, coupe / martini, and old-fashioned) can be economical and save space without the drinks suffering.

Measuring:  Free-pouring helped Tom Cruise impress Elizabeth Shue in “Cocktail”, but good consistent drinks are based on ratios and formulas.  Get yourself a jigger and measure all ingredients!  You’ll also need a cocktail shaker, a mixing glass and a bar spoon for stirring.


We hope this has been somewhat useful and we are happy to help anyway we can as you embark on your cocktail journey.



Your fellow cocktail enthusiasts at The Amsterdam Tea Room & Bar


Back to Tea Cocktail menu – click here