Easy Cocktail Recipes You Need to Know

For some, going to a cocktail bar these days is the equivalent of walking into a science lab. Between the smoke guns and the malic acid and the liquors you’re convinced the bartenders just made up on the spot, it can be a lot.

spirit awards 2018 cocktail bottle lineup bar
Instagram appeal. Dan Baker/The Manual

Cocktails, though, don’t have to be a lot. In fact, many are not. With only three or four ingredients and minimal gear, you can make a wide range of classic cocktails that are delicious and potent.

Sure, they might not have the same Instagram appeal as something that looks straight out of Willy Wonka’s factory, but can you really fight the appeal of a drink that’ll take you a minute to make and will get you buzzed? No, no you cannot.

Without further ado, then, here are 10 easy cocktail recipes that’ll take 15 minutes to learn and a lifetime to have fun with. If you need suggestions for liquor, check out the winners of The Manual Spirit Awards 2018.


Old Fashioned

whiskey old fashioned

  • 2 oz bourbon
  • 3-4 dashes Angostura bitters
  • 1 sugar cube
  • A few drops of water
  • Orange peel

Method: In an Old Fashioned glass, add sugar cube, bitters, and a few drops of water. Muddle. Add a large rock of ice, followed by the bourbon. Stir. Express the orange peel over the top and drop in to garnish.


easy manhattan cocktail
  • 2 oz rye whiskey
  • .75 oz sweet red vermouth
  • 1-2 dashes Angostura bitters
  • Maraschino cherry

Method: In a mixing glass, add rye, vermouth, bitters, and a large cube of ice. Stir. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a cherry.



paloma cocktail grapefruit

Method: Add tequila and grapefruit soda to a tall glass with ice. Stir to mix. Garnish with a lime or grapefruit wedge.


best tequila cocktails
  • 2 oz tequila
  • 1 oz Cointreau
  • 1 oz fresh lime juice
  • Lime wedge
  • Salt rim optional

Method: If you are using a salt rim, rub a lime wedge (cut across the center) around the rim of an Old Fashioned glass then roll the outside lightly in sea salt. Set aside. In a shaker, add tequila, Cointreau, and lime juice. Shake. Add ice to the glass, then strain liquid into the glass, watching to not mess up your salt rim. Garnish with a lime wedge.


Tom Collins

tom collins gin cocktail
  • 1.5 oz Old Tom Gin
  • 2 oz club soda
  • 1 oz lemon juice
  • .5 oz simple syrup
  • Lemon slice
  • Maraschino cherry

Method: Add gin, lemon juice, and simple syrup to a Collins glass with ice. Top with club soda and stir to mix. Garnish with a lemon slice and a maraschino cherry.

Gin and Tonic

best gins for gin and tonic
  • 2 oz gin
  • 2-6 oz tonic water, according to taste
  • Lime wedge

Method: In a glass filled with ice, pour gin and top with tonic. Stir and garnish with a lime wedge.


White Russian

white russian
Amy Ellis Photography
  • 1.5 oz vodka
  • .75 oz coffee liqueur
  • 3 oz fresh cream

Method: Pour vodka and coffee liqueur into an Old Fashioned glass filled with ice. Slowly pour cream on top and stir gently. 

Salty Dog

salty dog cocktail grapefruit
Masanyanka/Getty Images
  • 1.5 oz vodka
  • 3.5 oz grapefruit juice
  • Lime or grapefruit wedge
  • Sea salt

Method: Add grapefruit juice and vodka to a shaker with ice. Shake well. Take lime or grapefruit and wet the rim of a cocktail glass. Roll the outside of the rim in sea salt.  Add ice to glass, then pour liquid in. Garnish with a lime or grapefruit wedge.



simple daiquiri cocktail lime
Alpaksoy/Getty Images
  • 1.5 oz white rum
  • 1 oz lime juice
  • .5 oz simple syrup
  • Lime wedge

Method: Add all liquid ingredients to a shaker with ice. Shake well and strain into a cocktail glass with ice. Garnish with a lime wedge.

Dark ‘n’ Stormy

rum cocktail lime

Method: In a Collins glass filled with ice, add rum and lime juice. Top with ginger beer. Stir and garnish with a lime wedge.

Last updated September 5, 2018, to include details of The Manual Spirit Awards 2018.

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