10 Drink Recipes Every Cocktail Drinker Should Master
As long as you have a well-stocked liquor cabinet, there’s no reason you can’t bring happy hour to your house. Anyone can be a master mixologist as long as you have the right recipes and tools, and with a little practice, you can easily conquer the classics. We’re getting you started with 10 formulas found around the Web for the classic cocktails you find yourselves ordering time and time again. Grab your cocktail shaker and get ready to go. Your favorite drinks will soon be coming out of your kitchen.
1. The Margarita
First up is a recipe from Chowhound for the classic margarita. Instead of drinking your margaritas out of a frozen bucket, concoct your own sophisticated beverage via this fool-proof formula starring tequila. According to this Chow recipe, we’re enlisting the 3-2-1 ratio of three parts tequila, two parts good triple sec, and one part lime juice. Garnish your glass with a lime and serve with chips.
- Kosher salt
- 1 thin lime wedge
- 1½ ounces silver (blanco), 100% agave tequila
- 1 ounce triple sec orange liqueur, preferably Luxardo Triplum or Cointreau
- ½ ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
- 1 very thin lime slice, for garnish
Directions: Pour enough salt on a small plate to cover it.
Rub the lime wedge on the outside rim of a 4-ounce cocktail glass. Holding the glass at a 45-degree angle, dip the outside rim in the salt, rotating as you do, so the entire rim is coated with salt. Fill the glass with ice and place it in the freezer to chill.
Add the tequila, triple sec, and lime juice to a cocktail shaker and fill the shaker halfway with ice. Shake vigorously until the outside of the shaker turns frosty. Strain the margarita into the chilled glass and garnish with a lime slice.
2. The Martini
Next up: the martini. This recipe from Bon Appétit instructs you to stir, stir, stir. It serves 1 and only requires 3 ingredients — gin, vermouth, and a lemon. This drink isn’t for the faint of heart, but for those who step up to the plate, make sure you serve it cold.
- 4 ounces Beefeater gin
- ¾ ounce Noilly Prat dry vermouth
- 1 lemon
Directions: Holding a large cube of ice in the palm of your hand, use the back of a stirring spoon to crack it into large pieces; place in a mixing glass. Repeat with enough ice to fill glass. Add gin and vermouth and, using a bar spoon, rapidly stir 50 times in a circular motion.
3. The Negroni
Follow this recipe from Saveur for success. The negroni is another classic drink concocted only of 3 different alcohols, but this is one burn most people have no trouble getting used to.
- 1 ounce Campari
- 1 ounce gin
- 1 ounce sweet vermouth
Directions: Stir Campari, gin, and vermouth in an ice-filled tumbler; garnish with orange slice.
4. The Gin and Tonic
Save some of that gin from your negroni for this next classic: the gin and tonic. Instead of spending a fortune on an over-priced drink, make the favorite at home via this recipe from Food Network. Many consider the perfect gin and tonic an art form, and with these easy-to-follow instructions, you can make yourself a G&T artist.
- 4 to 5 tonic water ice cubes
- 3 ounces gin
- 4 ounces tonic water
- 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice
- Lime wedge for garnish
Directions: Place the ice cubes in a tall, narrow, chilled glass (the cubes should come near the top.) Add the gin, then the tonic water, then the lime juice, stirring well. Garnish with lime wedge, and serve immediately.
Note: To make the ice cubes, simply fill an empty ice cube tray with tonic water, and let the cubes freeze. It takes just a few hours. Covered well, the cubes will remain fresh-tasting in the freezer for at least a few weeks.
Next we come to this recipe from Food & Wine for an old-fashioned. This drink is a classic for a reason, but just make sure your guests like their bourbon before indulging. The recipe makes one drink but can easily be multiplied according to how many thirsty guests you are hosting.
- 1 sugar cube
- 3 dashes Angostura bitters
- 2 ounces bourbon
- 1 tablespoon club soda
- 1 thin strip of lemon peel
Directions: In a rocks glass, combine the sugar cube, bitters, and club soda. Muddle to a paste. Stir in the bourbon. Add ice and garnish with a two-inch strip of lemon peel.
6. French 75
Don’t forget about the French 75. This recipe for the classic cocktail from Esquire yields a drink that arguably goes down a little easier than some of the aforementioned aperitifs on our list, but the beverage is still pungent. Happy sipping!
- 2 ounces London dry gin
- 1 teaspoon superfine sugar
- ½ ounce lemon juice
- 5 ounces Brut champagne
- Collins glass
Directions: Shake well with cracked ice in a chilled cocktail shaker, then strain into a collins glass half-full of cracked ice and top off with champagne.
Next is the Manhattan: Follow this recipe from Liquor.com and serve the classic cocktail right out of your kitchen. This drink might put some hair on your chest, but we think it’s the best of the best.
- 2 ounces rye whiskey
- 1 ounce sweet vermouth
- 5 drops angostura bitters
Directions: Add all the ingredients to a mixing glass and fill with ice. Stir well and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a cherry.
For a sweeter cocktail, try your hand at a homemade daiquiri with this recipe from Serious Eats. Daiquiri purists know that the drink is all about the rum and lime juice, rather than the frilly fruits and ice, and this classic formula hits the nail on the head. Requiring just 3 ingredients, the recipe takes us back to the basics.
- 2 ounces light rum
- ¾ ounce fresh-squeezed lime juice
- 1 teaspoon sugar
Directions: Pour sugar and lime juice into a cocktail shaker and stir until sugar is dissolved. Add the rum and fill shaker with ice; shake well for 10 seconds and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a wedge of lime.
9. Dark and Stormy
Grab your ginger beer for this next classic cocktail: The Dark and Stormy. This drink formula from Simply Recipes will help you concoct the traditional cocktail starring dark rum.
- ¼ lime, cut into two thick slices, one for garnish, one to squeeze over the ice
- 2 ounces black rum
- 4 ounces ginger beer
Directions: Fill a highball glass with ice. If using lime, squeeze a slice over the ice. Add the Gosling’s rum. Add the ginger beer and place a slice of lime on the rim of the glass for a garnish.
10. Bloody Mary
And we’re concluding this list with The Bloody Mary just in case you believe in the magic of the hair of the dog after indulging in one too many of the aforementioned drinks. Make your own Bloody Mary at home via this recipe from Liquor.com. Whether you are enjoying the drink as a brunch beverage or a hangover cure, make sure you prepare your Bloody Mary with enough tomato juice and tabasco sauce — and maybe even a little bacon.
- Celery salt
- 1 lemon wedge
- 1 lime wedge
- 2 ounces premium vodka
- 4 ounces tomato juice
- 2 dashes hot sauce
- 2 teaspoons prepared horseradish
- 2 dashes Worcestershire sauce
- 1 pinch celery salt
- 1 pinch ground black pepper
- 1 pinch smoked paprika
Directions: Pour some celery salt onto a small plate. Rub the juicy side of the lemon or lime wedge along the lip of a pint glass. Roll the outer edge of the glass in celery salt until fully coated. Fill with ice and set aside.
Squeeze the lemon and lime wedges into a shaker and drop them in. Add the remaining ingredients and fill with ice. Shake gently and strain into the prepared glass. Garnish with a celery stalk and a lime wedge