What is a Cocktail Drum?
A cocktail drum typically looks like a tall floor tom 14" to 16" diameter by 16" to 25" height on shell mounted legs. There are usually snares mounted underneath the top head for a "snare sound" and a modified pedal to strike the bottom head for a "bass drum sound". They often have a shell mounted cymbal arm and occasionally a side mounted tom-tom or set of bongos for a very compact set up. There are also several variations which include single headed drums with or without snares, snare drums mounted directly attop a regular, small bass drum, a snare drum mounted to a floor-tom with the underneath bass drum beater, etc.
When were Cocktail Drums made?

It appears that the basic cocktail style kit was first created in the 40's with the Carlton Combination. The Carlton consisted of a 20" tom mounted upright on legs with a side mounted snare and upward striking pedal. It also had a tuning pedal like a timpani. During the 50s and 60s most major drum manufacturers went with the cocktail drum trend but the fad seemed to die out entirely by the end of the 60s. On the early 90s Yamaha added a cocktail set to their catalog and old cocktail drums began resurfacing inspiring custom drum makers to create their own versions of the instrument.

Why use a Cocktail Drum?

Cocktail Drums are compact, light weight, and they look GREAT! They are marvelous for confined stage areas and easy traveling. They also offer an opportunity to use a more spare set that can be appropriate for more subtle musical situations.

Who MADE Cocktail Drums?

All of the major drum companies have made cocktail drums over the years. Carlton, Slingerland, Ludwig, Rogers, Gretsch, and Vespe all joined the Cocktail Drum craze(?) at one time or another.

Who MAKES Cocktail Drums?

Several companies have begun making Cocktail Drums in recent years. Kits are available from some larger manufacturers like Yamaha and Remo and several custom drum makers are now offering cocktail sets.

Where can I find a Cocktail Drum?

The best source for Cocktail Drums is through vintage drum dealers on the internet. Occasionaly you may find one in an old music shop or flea market but that is much less likely. Cocktail Drums are also available new from Yamaha and Remo as well as many custom drum manufacturers.

What do Cocktail Drums sound like?

Cocktail drums generally sound like a bass drum and a snare drum. Because of their small size the bass drum is often higher pitched and much quiter than a larger bass drum. Also, on the single drum models there is quite a bit of intereaction between the two heads (IE: Hitting the bottom head rattles the snares. Strinking the snare side resonates the bottom head. With some experementation using different heads,tunings, and mufflings it is likely you can find a sound you like. [CLICK HERE]

How much do Cocktail Drums cost?

Cocktail Drums range from $75 to $1000 (with $1000 being VERY HIGH) depending on many factors. Model, age, condition, accessories, and hardware all contribute to the value of the instrument. Remember that some models are rare making them more valuable for their COLLECTABILITY not necessarily their PLAYABILITY. Many are valuable for their add-ons such as custom hardware, reversable pedals, cymbal stand attachments, extra toms, snares, and bongos. Also be aware that single headed drums are generally much less valuable than double headed drums.