What Is An Upside-Down Cocktail And How Are They Made?

Low alcohol by volume (ABV) beverages are the hottest thing in the drink world right now. With the rise of mindful drinking and greater knowledge about the long term effects of consuming high quantities of alcohol, more and more people are trying to cut back on their alcohol consumption. But, you don't have to sacrifice your favorite social rituals. Even if you're a cocktail lover, there's a quick and easy way to enjoy your favorite drinks with friends while consuming less alcohol — and no, we're not about to say "just drink less."

Upside-down cocktails are a new way to drink the same drinks you love while cutting back on the liquor. By inverting the ratios of high-ABV spirits like vodka, gin or tequila and low-ABV ingredients like vermouth, liqueur and amaro, you can mix a cocktail with significantly less alcohol, but very similar taste. Not only can you feel better about drinking less alcohol, but you can actually drink for longer, too. With a lower alcohol content, cocktails become almost sessionable.

How to make upside-down cocktails

Making an upside down cocktail is surprisingly easy. All you need to do is reverse the amounts of hard liquor and low-ABV ingredients. For instance, if a recipe calls for two ounces of gin and one ounce of vermouth, you would switch the amounts to one ounce of gin and two ounces of vermouth. The resulting cocktail will have a lower-alcohol content while yielding the same amount of drink.

Things can get a little more complicated when the recipe calls for equal parts of all ingredients. For instance, a standard negroni is one ounce gin, one ounce Campari, and one ounce sweet vermouth. It will take a little more measuring, but you can lower the ABV of a negroni by pouring just half an ounce of gin with 1.25 ounces Campari and 1.25 ounces of sweet vermouth.

In general, upside down cocktails are only achievable with drinks that contain both hard liquor and lower ABV components like amaro, wine, vermouth, or liqueur. Inverting the ratios of drinks that only have hard liquor and non-alcoholic ingredients will result in an overly-juiced, watered-down cocktail, not a true upside down.

The best classic cocktails to try upside-down

The upside-down cocktail craze began decades ago with the upside-down martini. Consisting of three quarters of an ounce of gin and 3.75 ounces of vermouth, it was chef Julia Childs' favorite drink. Basically an extra, extra dirty martini, it remains the classic example of how to properly turn a cocktail upside-down.

That said, more of your favorite drink recipes are ripe for upside-downification. The negroni we used in the example above is perfect for it, especially in its sbagliato form. If your tastes run sweeter, the Cosmopolitan of "Sex and the City" fame can be easily inverted, just use one ounce of vodka instead of the usual two and add an extra ounce of Triple Sec. Then shake with the regular amount of cranberry and lime juices. Even the popular margarita can be made upside-down by using just a half an ounce of tequila and two ounces of Cointreau. The sour lime mix will temper the saccharine taste of the liqueur, while you still get that bright pop of tequila.