AP Stylebook’s guide to cocktail consumption

Next time you’re looking to invite colleagues to de-stress after work with a cocktail or craft beer, consider these style tips from a recent Twitter chat.

This article was originally published on PR Daily in February 2016.

Thousands took part in “National Margarita Day“—but not everyone used proper AP style in their online mentions of the honored drink.

For busy PR pros who favor a cocktail after a long day, the Associated Press’ food editor, J.M. Hirsch, weighed in on how to correctly write about various libations. (If you’re unsure what constitutes a long day, consult this list of opportune occasions.)

In the Stylebook’s recent Twitter chat, Hirsch answered questions about drink options—from Champagne to moonshine. Here are a few highlights, beginning with the margarita:

Mixed drinks

Capitalization is reserved for proper names of drinks and ingredients; lowercase the generics.

Although the Stylebook says to capitalize the orange liqueur Cointreau, it advises to lowercase “amaretto”—the almond liqueur associated with Saronno, Italy. If you’re crafting an amaretto-flavored drink with Disaronno, be sure to capitalize the brand name.

For event gurus and party planners, there are two pages of the 2015 AP Stylebook dedicated to AP Recipe Style. If you’re writing a recipe for a cookbook, the section says to capitalize its title. When simply referring to a recipe, such as this Blue Lagoon margarita preparation, or these instructions for a classic Tom Collins, uppercase only the proper nouns.


If you’re toasting a colleague with a glass of Dom Pérignon or seeking something from France’s Champagne region to accompany your hors d’oeuvre, the Stylebook says to use a capital “C.” If you’re in Rome munching on an antipasto, you’re probably drinking prosecco, which is lowercase.

Although most cocktails are lowercase, some concoctions, such as the Bellini—made from sparkling wine and peach juice—require capitalization. A Benedictine—made from French liqueur, herbs and spices—also takes an uppercase “B,” the Stylebook says.

Whisky, whiskey and beer

It’s possible to order an old-fashioned with brandy, whisky or whiskey depending on your preference or the geographic location of your watering hole. If your choice is Canadian Club, then it’s “whisky.” If you’re more inclined to consume Wild Turkey or Jim Beam, then you’d be considered a bourbon whiskey devotee.

Regardless of whether you’re being served whiskey, beer or a Shirley Temple, the Stylebook says the person making your drink is probably called a bartender. If the location specializes in craft cocktails, then you can get fancy:

If you tend to stick with beer, note that small independent beer producers are often called craft breweries, but the preferred AP style term is “microbrewery.”


(Image by Edsel Little, via)


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