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Nov 20, 2010 06:13 PM

measuring "parts" in cocktail recipes?


I have been struggling with how to measure spirits and liqueurs using "parts". I am terrible at math (especially fractions :p), and I just can't get what the measurements in ounces (or cL) are when cocktail books measure everything in "parts". Like the Savoy Cocktail Book or Bar La Florida; I have these books, and I'd love to make a bunch of the cocktails, but I have no idea how to go about measuring these things. Here's an example:


1/2 Port Wine
1/2 Fine Cognac
1/3 Maraschino...


And in case you want the whole recipe for your troubles (I get this stuff though):

...1 dash of Angostura
several sprigs of peppermint
peel of lemon
1/2 teaspoon of sugar
"plenty of ice in a glass of 6 oz. Shake a little and serve with two cherries"

Sounds amazing no?
Well, I can't be for sure because I can't make the damn thing.

Any help is much appreciated,

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  1. The recipe is giving you a ratio. It can be milliliters or gallons depending on how much you want to wind up with. In you above recipe to make one good drink, you could use the arbitrary number of 3 oz... That would translate to: 3 oz. x 1/2 = 1.5 oz.. 3 oz. x 1/3 = 1 oz.

    1.5 oz. Port Wine
    1.5 oz. Cognac
    1 oz. Maraschino...

    The same ratio will hold true for 8 oz. cups, Quarts, or whatever.

    3 Replies
    1. re: phantomdoc

      thanks so much, I wasn't sure if I was supposed to multiply or divide, and that's the magic word I was looking for: ratio ;)

      1. re: phantomdoc

        The problem is the flexible ratio and the fixed size sugar. Obviously this has to be sized for a 6 oz glass, but that isn't always the case. When there are fixed-sized ingredients (1 dash, 1 t tsp) and ratios (1/2 or 3 parts or whatever), you have to guess at what the intended serving size and adjust the ratio ingredient to make that. Otherwise the fixed-sized ingredients will be out of proportion.

        So for this example, if you made a quart (say for a party), you'd have to figure out how many servings you think that is and scale up the 1/2 tsp sugar by that amount.

        Also, normally the fractions add up to 1. In this case, they don't, so I'm guessing that maybe the implied measure is "wine glass", which would be a very small wine glass at that time.

        1. re: EvergreenDan

          Back in the 19th century when they used the term glass or wine glass as a measure, that meant two ounces.

      2. This sounds like a traditional 19th century recipe. It is familiar, but I don't remember the name. From the other ingredients, and the amount of sugar, I think phantomdoc is correct on the recipe ratio broken down into ounces.

        What is the name of this cocktail?

        1. If it was just a ratio, there would be something that was present in 1 part. Since everything is a fraction, I suspect it's not strictly a ratio. Also, the bitters and sugar measures wouldn't make sense. I think there is an assumed, standard measure that isn't included. A jigger or some such.

          My guess: The assumed measure is a 1 1/2 oz jigger. Thus, 3/4 oz each port and cognac, 1/2 oz maraschino, dash of bitters, 1/2 tsp sugar, peppermint and lemon. Shake, strain, garnish, enjoy.

          1. I like phantomdoc's translation, but I would leave out the sugar.

            2 Replies
            1. re: jaykayen

              Don't forget some recipes are just poorly written. I've seen recipies that were "1 part this, 2 parts that and 4 oz soda" or that refer to an ingredient in the body copy that isn't listed elsewhere. Especially on the internet a lot of recipes could use a good pass by an editor so if you really can't make sense of it, maybe it just doesn't make sense.

              1. re: jaykayen

                On looking at it again I think the recipe I guessed at would work. 4 ounces of liquid ingredients in a six ounce serving glass.