Vodka, whiskey and rum are common liquors used in a variety of cocktails. Gin, brandy and schnapps are also popular additions to a well-stocked bar.
Vodka is a clear, neutral spirit distilled from potatoes, corn or grains. This charcoal-filtered alcohol has little odor or flavor. It may be consumed neat, but is a popular ingredient in many mixed drinks. Popular vodka cocktails include the bloody mary, cosmopolitan, gibson and screwdriver.
Gin, another clear liquor, is fermented from a combination of corn, barley and other grains. Its flavor comes from a complex mixture of ingredients such as juniper berries, orange peel, cardamom and coriander. The gimlet, Tom Collins and Singapore sling are among the most popular cocktails made with gin.
Rum is a tropical liquor made from sugar cane or molasses. The three basic rum varieties are light, dark and flavored. Light rums have a mild taste, while darker varieties undergo a longer maturation process and have more assertive flavor profiles. Flavored rums are mixtures of rum and spices or fruit juice and are extremely popular in cocktails such as daiquiris and pina coladas.
Brandy is wood-aged fermented fruit juice. The most popular varieties are made from grapes, but brandies made with plum, pear, apricot and peach juice are also common. Cocktails made with brandy include the brandy Alexander, grasshopper and sidecar.