Go Small or Go Home- How Mini Cocktails Are the Big New Bar Fad

Move over, full-sized cocktails. It’s time to make way for their mini counterparts. That’s right, mini cocktails are the big new bar fad, and for good reason. This article helps you catch up.


Small Wonder—The Rise of the Mini Cocktail

There's something about mini cocktails that just feels more fun and festive than their full-sized counterparts. Maybe it's how they look lined up on a tray, or that they're just the right size for sipping leisurely. Whatever the reason, mini cocktails have become increasingly popular in recent years as people look for ways to enjoy their favorite drinks without overindulging.

"Half the size, but 100% of the experience" -- Bar One Lounge in Charlotte, North Carolina, Instagrammed a video early September as they stirred and mixed a Mini Manhattan (High West Double Rye Whiskey, sweet vermouth, angostura bitters) and a Mini Old Fashioned (George Dickle Bourbon, simple syrup, angostura bitters). "Now at BAR ONE lounge, we are offering MINI cocktails!" the caption announced and added, "These manifested from hearing our lunch guests ask for half glasses of wine; we thought half cocktails should be an option too!"

Yes, bars have embraced mini cocktails and how. They've been around for a while, but in the aftermath of the pandemic, they are becoming more popular as people look for ways to save money and cut down on their alcohol consumption.

Every Trend Has a Reason. . . or Several

The popularity of mini cocktails can be attributed to different factors- they're cute, easy to drink, and lighter on the pocket. Add to it, they're low in calories, so you won't feel guilty indulging in a couple.

These mini drinks are usually half the size of a regular cocktail, making them a perfect lunch-hour or post-dinner treat. (A regular glass contains eight to ten ounces of liquor; mini glasses usually have two to four ounces). And because they're small, you can indulge in different varieties without getting hammered. They're often much cheaper than their full-size counterparts too!

Whether you're looking for an excuse to sip on something sweet or need a break from the strong flavors of traditional cocktails, mini cocktails are a great option. They're also perfect for parties because you can prepare a little of a few of them, and everyone can try a little bit of everything.

What's more, these pint-sized cocktails have great Social Media potential. Often served in attractive glasses or bowls, they're highly Instagrammable. What's not to love?

The Popularity of Mini Cocktails is Spreading

The concept of tiny cocktails isn't entirely new. Japan's Gen. Yamamoto, who runs an eponymous cocktail bar in Tokyo, is one of the early adopters of these mini blends, serving them since 2010.

Although bars have only recently latched on to the idea -- aware that inflation has driven diners to pay more attention to their bills -- trade pundits had added mini cocktails to their list of Restaurant Trends ages back. Over a decade ago, The Wall Street Journal wrote a detailed account of the fad that has started gaining momentum now.

In the aptly titled piece from 2012, Make Mine A Mini, the author quotes several bartenders talking about the charm of these half-sized beverages. One of them points out that cocktails "should be cold and refreshing" up until the last sip as no one likes their drinks dishwater warm. Another muses about "extremely potent flavors" that any alcohol-lover would devour, but not a full cocktail, rather a "few sips" before moving on to another.

The people now crafting mini cocktail menus won't contradict these opinions. However, the world has evolved in the last decade, and so has the beverage and restaurant industry, and bartenders have a lot more to add.

Natasha Mesa, who is overseeing the development of the cocktail menu at New York's Milady's (the re-envisioning of the classic SoHo dive bar, lined up for an October opening), said in a Punch report that the menu would have a "snack-sized" segment, allowing guests to have their fill of cocktails economically. "Consumers nowadays are a little more conscious about spending, and therefore they're less willing to be adventurous with their drink choices," she says.

It makes sense. A full-sized cocktail is priced between $12 to $15 or more, depending on the alcohol used. Smaller mixes cost less and will therefore have potentially higher demand.

Not surprising that The Bartender's Handshake (named after 'handshake,' or shot that bartenders pour each other) in Des Moines has a slew of miniature mixes priced at $5 a glass, and $12 for three.

In a recent piece, Food&Wine writes about the bar For the Record in San Francisco. It offers a variety of "cheekies" because they are "enough to fill your cheek," says Janice Bailon, the bar's beverage director. There's Lowrider (tequila blended with Cardamaro), and Bad Girl (mezcal mixed with Brucato Amaro), among others.

Taste More, Drink Less

Some things stay the same. Maybe that's why most patrons still stick to the old formula. The most popular varieties of mini cocktails are the classic martini, cosmopolitan, Moscow mule, and mojito perhaps, with a few improvisations. If mini martinis are perfect for a pre-dinner drink or a great way to fight the 3pm slump, cosmopolitans make a refreshing and sophisticated choice for an after-work treat. And refreshing mojitos are perfect for sipping anytime on a hot summer day.

There's also the mini Negroni. Negronis are traditionally made with gin, Campari, and sweet vermouth. It is strong and bitter, which some people love, and others find distasteful. The mini version of this drink has become popular because they're a perfectly-sized portion for those who want to try out the cocktail, without over-indulging.

While the classics stay on, there's no dearth of experiments. The Handshake offers Chokes & Smoke a blend of Cynar and Banhez mezcal. It also has the House Amaro, a mix of bittersweet liqueurs with sherry. For The Record's Afternoon Delight is a blend of Jameson Orange, bourbon and amaretto infused with Earl Grey tea.

Jorge Conde of Singapore's Smoke & Mirrors offers an extensive cocktail menu. However, his strong-flavored ingredients -- chili oil, black rice, white truffles -- can sometimes become overpowering, as he himself has observed. That's why he also has a line-up of classic cocktails served in pony glasses. "The idea with the ponies is to drink more. The menu has eight ponies, and it's very easy to drink six as the quantity of the cocktail is between a shot and a cocktail," Conde told CNBC.

Then, many bars across America are making their own versions of Daiquiri. The cocktail made with rum, lime juice, and sugar is served frozen or on the rocks and garnished with a lime wedge. The Daiquiri is a popular choice for summer parties or when you're looking for quick and easy Cocktail Recipes. Some of the new cocktail versions stir in flavors of dragonfruit or pineapple in the classic mix; others have been experimenting with different varieties of rum.

Try Mixing it Up: Half-sized Negroni

The Shopping List to make this classic cocktail is small. Try it-

Ingredients (Serves- 1)

  • 3/4 ounces tequila or mezcal
  • 1/2 ounces Campari
  • 1/2 ounces Punt e Mes sweet vermouth
  • Orange twist (to garnish)


  • Fill a cocktail shaker with ice.
  • Mix the tequila, vermouth, and Campari.
  • Cover and blend well.
  • Pour in a shot glass and garnish.
  • Casablanca Crusta

The Casablanca Crusta is a classic drink that dates back to the 19th century. It is one of the classic cocktail recipes from Jerry Thomas' Bartenders Guide, published in 1862.

Ingredients (Serves- 1)

  • 1-12 ounces gin
  • 14 ounce chamomile-honey syrup
  • Lemon wedge
  • Sugar (finely crushed)
  • 14 ounce lemon juice (fresh)
  • One dash Cointreau
  • One dash bitters
  • Lemon peel (striped)
  • Sprig mint


  • Take a cordial glass. Wet its rim with a lemon wedge and dip it in sugar.
  • Fill a shaker with ice.
  • Combine all the ingredients
  • Stir and blend well.
  • Pour it into the glass.
  • Garnish with lemon peel and add mint.

A Treat To Relish

Although the pandemic has long ended, bars are still struggling to stay afloat. Needless to say, innovation is the need of the hour. And what better way to innovate than to experiment with their drinks and how they serve them? Mini cocktails are one way. They make for an interesting addition to the menu, and are a great way for bars to offer their customers a little something special.

Minis also tend to be popular with customers, who love being able to try a bunch of different drinks without having to commit to any one. It is perfect for those who want to drink but don't want to get drunk. So go ahead, order the mini Negroni. Add a mini mojito and a fruity Daiquiri to your order. You won't be judged.

Photo by Stockking

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