What Is Cocktail Glass Rinsing?

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Rinsing is the ultimate in subtle mixology, allowing an additional spirit to flirt with your blend without altering it altogether. Mastering this trick is also key to some scrumptious Christmas treats.

How To Rinse A Cocktail Glass

First things first, rinsing isn’t about making sure your customers get a clean glass. Cocktail glass rinsing allows mixologists to micro-manage the aromatics and flavour combinations of their drinks to mix with more precision and gain finer control over their creations. In other words, including rinsing in your recipes can make for better cocktails.

Unlike beer glass rinsing, which features a quick blast of water, you need to pick the right spirit to rinse your cocktail glass. Rinsing releases the aromatics and a hint of flavour from a spirit without overpowering the blend: It’s the key to the Absinthe edge of a Sazerac or the hint of Vermouth that makes a bone dry martini.

So, how do you rinse a cocktail glass?

There are two main techniques for rinsing glasses:

Traditional Cocktail Glass Rinsing

  • Add roughly half a shot of the chosen spirit to your glass
  • Tilt the glass until the liquid stretches from the base of the glass to nearly the rim
  • Rotate the glass to run the spirit around the interior
  • Throw away any excess liquid remaining
Good points:

This technique looks great and adds theatre to your presentation. What’s more, swirling by hand ensures even coverage.

Bad Points:

You’re binning alcohol! Throwing spirits away is wasteful, damages your margins and can mean higher prices for customers. Try and use the minimum alcohol which still allows for good glass coverage.

Tip:

The wide, straight and gently sloping rim of martini glasses makes them perfect for rinsing.

Quick Cocktail Glass Rinsing

  • Fill a small spray container with the required spirit
  • Use the spray to lightly mist the inside of your cocktail glass

Good points:

Spraying is much quicker than rinsing by hand and guarantees precisely even coverage. By using the right amount, wastage is greatly reduced.

Bad points:

Whipping out a spray (however stylish), doesn’t have the artisan feeling of traditional rinsing. Inaccurate sprayers could also miss the glass, resulting in some wastage and a potential health and safety problem.

Tip:

Using a spray with an adjustable nozzle helps find the perfect size of spray to fit your glassware.

What is An Absinthe Rinse?

An absinthe rinse means swirling a glass with absinthe to leave an enticing absinthe aroma and taste behind. This herbal complexity and aniseed bite is a key component of a Sazarac. Remember, you are not adding absinthe, just lining the glass with a little.

Festive Cocktail Glass Rinsing

There's no more denying it. It's time to start getting prepared for the holiday season. With so many foods being characterised by a mixture of warming and celebratory spices, rinsing cocktail glasses can guarantee that your drinks are just as comforting and festive.

Here are two of our favourites:

The Christmas Cracker

This warming and aromatic cocktail looks great in a retro teacup due to it's intriguing colour. You can also take the aromatics to the next level by garnishing with a cinnamon stick or star anise.


  • Rinse your glass or teacup with Cointreau
  • Add ice to a boston shaker, along with equal parts sloe gin and campari
  • Shake, serve and top with a dash of soda water
  • Garnish for optimum aromatics

The Candy Cane

Candy canes are an American Christmas staple which are becoming more popular in the UK too. Celebrate this sugary festive treat with our Candy Cane martini!


  • Crush one candy cane into tiny pieces and place aside on a saucer
  • Wet the rim of a martini glass in creme de menthe and dust the rim in the crushed cane
  • Rinse the glass in creme de menthe, carefully avoiding the rim
  • Mix equal parts cranberry juice and strawberry vodka over ice in a mixing glass
  • Using a strainer, pour into the glass


By Oliver Bernard

My years of experience working in pubs and restaurants means I am always interested in the latest industry trends. If I’m not exploring interesting new eateries, I’m trying to mimic them at home!

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