12 Classic Cocktail Recipes Every Aspiring Mixologist Needs to Know How to Make
From martini and Manhattan to Negroni and daquiri, these are the best drink recipes to shake or stir up.
There's no better way to show off your hosting skills than by mixing up a round of well-made cocktails. There's a kind of magic to classic cocktail mixology that transforms a few simple ingredients into something more alluring than the sum of its parts. Need inspiration on what to make? Start with an Old-Fashioned, as shown here. This delicious, traditional drink is sure to start your party off right.
In order to mix a wide selection of cocktails, you need to make sure you've got the essentials. Setting up a home bar requires a small outlay of cash to get started but, to be able to serve up a round of martinis, Negronis, or daiquiris on the fly is a gift that keeps on giving. And once you have the basics, you can continue to slowly build your arsenal different spirits, obscure liqueurs, and assorted bitters.
One bottle each of vodka, gin, white rum, silver tequila, triple sec, bourbon, rye, sweet vermouth, dry vermouth, and Angostura bitters will give you a well-stocked bar to start your mixology adventures. Ask the clerk at your local liquor emporium to steer you towards their favorite brands for mixing.
To get started on the road to cocktail success, there are a few tools you need. A basic stainless-steel cocktail shaker and a mixing glass for cocktails that aren't made in a shaker, like the Manhattan, are must-haves. A strainer that fits snugly into the top of the mixing glass so you can pour the drink neatly into the serving glass is another item to add to your list. You'll also need a long-handled bar spoon for stirring drinks in the mixing glass and a jigger or measuring cup—careful measuring is what makes the difference between an okay cocktail and a great one.
There's a whole world of beautiful glassware out there for serving cocktails, and it's possible to have a different set of special glasses for each drink in your arsenal. If you start your collection with a set of coupe glasses and a set of old-fashioned glasses, you can serve any cocktail.
You can never go wrong with this beautifully balanced brown liquor powerhouse. Use rye whiskey for a spicier drink or bourbon if you like it a little sweeter and rounder.
Tastes complicated, but mixes easily. The Negroni is one of the easiest cocktail recipes to remember: equal parts Campari, gin, and sweet vermouth will teach you to embrace bitterness.
Whether it makes you think of James Bond, Mad Men, or dusky jazz lounges, you'll always feel a little more sophisticated while sipping a martini. The less vermouth you add, the "drier" it will be. What's your signature garnish? Green olives or a lemon twist?
Forget about sticky store-bought mixes. A from-scratch margarita is a true thing of beauty.
The slushy neon concoctions dispensed on Bourbon Street have nothing to do with a proper daiquiri. Try the real deal, which is a divine, simple mix of white rum, lime juice, and sugar.
Another refreshingly simple lime-powered cocktail, the caipirinha is the national cocktail of Brazil. It's made with cachaça (kuh-SHAW-suh), a bright and fruity cousin of rum made with fresh sugarcane.
Forget about hurricanes: The Sazerac is what you really should be drinking in New Orleans. This bracing rye concoction has a hint of anise-y absinthe that sets it apart from the pack.
Who can say no to a Champagne cocktail? The French 75 starts with a splash of gin mixed with lemon and sugar, then it's topped with bubbles.
Don't forget about the sidecar! This sweet, citrusy cocktail is built on brandy.
Vodka lovers, we didn't forget about you! Use best-quality ginger beer for a mule with a proper kick.
Bourbon Hot Toddy
A hot toddy will cure everything that ails you during the chilly months: just add lemon, honey, cinnamon sticks, and a splash of hot water to your bourbon to turn it into a healing tonic.