A spirit-forward cocktail is a class of strong cocktails. Spirit-forward cocktails, other than the ancestral cocktails, typically use fortified wine such as vermouth, sherry, quinquina, or port to blunt the taste of the alcohol in the base spirit and add complexity of flavor. In a spirit-forward cocktail, it is still possible to taste the base spirits because they have not been completely masked by sugars and fruit juices. The opposite of a spirit-forward cocktail is a citrus cocktail.
Spirit-forward cocktails include vermouth-based cocktails and bitter cocktails like the Martini, Negroni, the Bijou, and the Manhattan. They often contain bitters or small amounts of liqueurs or syrups.
Ancestral cocktails are a category of drinks originating in the early 19th century, consisting of a base liquor and a little bit of sugar or a dash or two of a liquor like Maraschino, Curacao, or Cointreau, bitters, and water. The Sazerac and the Old Fashioned are ancestral cocktails.
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