A bartender works in Les Justes, a former escort-girl bar, in the Pigalle area of Paris, on August 9, 2018. - In the southern section of Paris' Pigalle red light district, redubbed "SoPi" for South of Pigalle, many of the numerous escort-girl bars are gradually being replaced by trendy cocktail bars. (Photo by Geoffroy VAN DER HASSELT / AFP) (Photo credit should read GEOFFROY VAN DER HASSELT/AFP/Getty Images)

Bartenders Are Tired Of These Overrated Cocktail Ingredients


Last week, bartenders told us the most underrated cocktail ingredients they use. This week, we are detailing the other side of the mixology coin as we asked bartenders to tell us the most overrated, over-used, and downright annoying ingredients currently trending in the cocktail world. From CBD oil to bitters to shrubs and even sugar, these are the ingredients bartenders are tired of.


“CBD oil is somewhat overrated right now as well. Yeah, it’s great that it comes from hemp, but we need to get it to a place where it adds more than mystery and allure to a cocktail. I mean, if we need to use CBD oil to make a cocktail a relaxing experience and add a relaxing post-drink feel, then it shouldn’t be behind a bar.” – Josh Cameron, head bartender at Boulton & Watt in New York City

Triple Sec


“The most overrated cocktail ingredient is triple sec. There are other ways to add an orange flavor to cocktails other than triple sec. For instance, my favorite trick is to add an orange peel inside my tin and then shake the cocktail. This method is often referred to as the regal shake.” – Saeed House, lead bartender at Ever Bar at the Kimpton Everly in Los Angeles

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St. Germain

“I can tell by the drinking trends that a lot of people ask for cocktails with St. Germain elderflower liquor. A lot of bars have this on their cocktail menus and, for me, I think that most bartenders can do a much better job on creating their in-house fruit, flower, herbs, or spice cordials as an alternative to it.” – Anton Ulaj, bartender at ETARU in Fort Lauderdale, Florida


“There is one ingredient that I so often see overused and thus overpowering in both drinks and food, and that is truffles. I do not necessarily hate them; I hate how expensive they are for the lack of flavor they have.” – Sean Stangle, bartender at Estiatorio Milos inside The Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas


“I get annoyed at ingredients like pamplemousse (grapefruit). I don’t really think there are overrated ingredients, but I do think that the use of ingredients as strong words to raise the value of a cocktail makes them overrated in my crooked view. Peppercorns, pamplemousse, and long lists of tinctures and shrubs. I’m also irked when I see many infused liquors in cocktail descriptions; is the bartender hiding flaws in the liquor by putting chiles, spices, and fruit in a base spirit?” – Sol Trece, lead bartender at La Cuevita in Highland Park, California


“Bitters. Because of the new trend with flavored bitters, the ingredient is very easily over or misused. A little goes a long way and the flavors can completely take over a drink. For example, you would use a serrano or pepper bitters to add hints of spice, but if you’re looking for a spicy drink you need to use fresh peppers or a properly-infused spirit and not rely on the bitters entirely. Lately, the bitters get used to turn basic cocktails into something different when it should be a small additive.” – Ben Sinon, bartender at Wrigley Mansion in Phoenix

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“What’s the most overrated cocktail ingredient? Sugar. When making a great drink, there are so many ways to sweeten it up with real flavor and balance the drink. Sugar-based products just don’t belong in a booze-forward beverage.” – Jeremy Martin, beverage director of Workshop Lounge in Asheville, North Carolina



“I find Orgeat very overrated. Many industry professionals use this as a band-aid to fix disconnected flavor profiles when approaching many tiki-styled cocktails. I personally believe that if you want to make a truly balanced cocktail, you should never rely on one ingredient to be a cure-all.” – Sonny Wallace, beverage director at The Collector Luxury Inn & Gardens in Saint Augustine, Florida


“What’s the most overrated cocktail ingredient? Overly complicated shrubs with three or more flavors in one. I tend to think it’s best to keep them simple.” – Jeremy Williams, lead mixologist at Lumber Baron Bar in Grand Rapids, Michigan

Yellow Chartreuse

“What’s the most overrated cocktail ingredient? Yellow Chartreuse. Sure, it’s a great product, but people use it as a crutch. It’s an easy way to add complexity to a basic drink.” – Bryson Downham, beverage director at Toups Meatery in New Orleans

Smoking Cocktails

“Overrated ingredients for me are definitely few and far between, but things that stick out are smoking things under a glass or cumbersome garnish that just gets wasted — cinnamon sticks come to mind.” – Kalani Parducci, lead bartender at Rosswood inside River’s Edge Hotel in Portland, Oregon


“Jalapeño. I feel like jalapeño is everywhere in the cocktail world. Not exactly my favorite.” – Ilexa Landau, bartender at Blue Ribbon inside The Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas

Butterfly Pea Flower

“What’s the most overrated cocktail ingredient? Butterfly pea flower. It definitely makes the drink pretty, but I think it’s been overdone.” – Freddy Schwenk, bar director at Geist in Nashville

Fat Washing


“Fat-washed spirits. Not really an ingredient but more of an overused, misunderstood technique. The trend started with the Benton Old Fashioned at PDT in New York. They infused really smokey bacon into bourbon. The result was a whiskey with a smokey, savory flavor. Unfortunately, this original application has sprung countless imitations that miss the point of the technique: to impart unique flavor, not just infuse bland meat or fat into drinks.” – Brian Sturgulewski, lead bartender at Pikoh in Los Angeles


“Pomegranate because so many mixologists don’t use fresh pomegranate but pomegranate juice instead. It isn’t as tasty, interesting, or healthy as the real thing.” – Thierry Carrier, beverage director at Avenue in Long Branch New Jersey


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