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23 easy cocktail recipes you can make at home

Check out this curated list of classic cocktail recipes to master in your own bar

Bartender making a whiskey highball
Our Whiskey Foundation / Unsplash

A cocktail doesn’t have to be a complicated thing. In fact, many of the best classic cocktails involve just a few ingredients. These, my friends, are the cocktails you should know how to make, as they’re simple to pull off and taste superb.

Maximalist cocktails with as many ingredients as there are stars in the sky are great, but better left to the pros. We like to make the ones that don’t require a whole lot of special equipment (outside of a good cocktail shaker) or that take too much of your precious time. These are cocktails that tend to let your favorite spirit shine, whether it’s good rye whiskey or a favorite gin.

Here are 23 easy cocktail recipes you can make at home.

Old Fashioned

Making an Old Fashioned cocktail
Dan Baker / The Manual

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces bourbon or rye whiskey
  • 3-4 dashes Angostura bitters
  • 1 sugar cube
  • A few drops of water
  • Orange peel

Method

  1. In your Old Fashioned whiskey glass, add a sugar cube, bitters, and a few drops of water, and muddle until the sugar is dissolved.
  2. Add bourbon, then ice, and stir until chilled.
  3. Express the orange peel over the top and drop it into the glass.

Manhattan

Manhattan cocktail
Dan Baker / The Manual

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces of your best rye whiskey
  • 3/4 ounce sweet vermouth
  • 1-2 dashes Angostura bitters
  • Cherry (preferably Luxardo, for garnish)

Method

  1. Combine the rye, vermouth, and bitters in a mixing glass with ice and stir until well chilled.
  2. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass, and garnish with a cherry.

Paloma

Paloma grapefruit cocktail
Alexander Prokopenko / Shutterstock

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces of your best tequila
  • 6 ounces grapefruit soda
  • Lime wedge or grapefruit wedge

Method

  1. Combine tequila and grapefruit soda in a Collins glass with ice.
  2. Garnish with a lime or grapefruit wedge.

Margarita

Margarita tequila cocktail lime strainer
Evgeny Karandaev / Shutterstock

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces tequila
  • 1 ounce Cointreau
  • 1 ounce fresh lime juice
  • Lime wedge
  • Salt rim (optional)

Method

  1. If using a salt rim, rub a lime wedge around the rim of a double Old Fashioned glass, then roll the outside in sea salt.
  2. Combine tequila, Cointreau, and lime juice in a cocktail shaker with ice, and shake vigorously.
  3. Strain into the glass over fresh ice.
  4. Garnish with a lime wedge.

Tom Collins

Tom Collins cocktails
Ivan Mateev / Shutterstock

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 ounces gin
  • 3 ounces club soda
  • 1 ounce lemon juice
  • 1 ounce simple syrup*
  • Lemon wheel
  • Cherry

Method

  1. Combine gin, lemon juice, and simple syrup in a Collins glass with ice.
  2. Top with club soda, and stir to mix.
  3. Garnish with a lemon wheel and a cherry.

*For simple syrup, combine equal parts sugar and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Chill and refrigerate in an airtight container for up to a month.

Gin and tonic

Gin and tonic with lemon and lime
voloshin311 / Shutterstock

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces of gin
  • 2-6 ounces tonic water, according to taste
  • Lime wedge

Method

  1. Combine gin and tonic in a Collins glass filled with ice.
  2. Garnish with a lime wedge.

White Russian

White Russian cocktail
Dan Baker / The Manual

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces vodka
  • 1 ounce coffee liqueur
  • 1/2 ounce heavy cream

Method

  1. Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker, and shake vigorously.
  2. Strain into to a double Old Fashioned glass filled with ice.

Salty dog

Salty dog grapefruit cocktail
MasAnyanka / Shutterstock

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 ounces vodka
  • 3 1/2 ounces grapefruit juice
  • Grapefruit slice
  • Sea salt

Method

  1. Add vodka and grapefruit juice to a shaker with ice and shake vigorously.
  2. Wet the rim of a cocktail glass with grapefruit slice and roll the outside of the rim in sea salt.
  3. Add ice to the glass and pour.
  4. Garnish with the grapefruit wedge.

Daiquiri

A daiquiri cocktail
Dan Baker / The Manual

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 ounces white rum
  • 1 ounce lime juice
  • 1/2 ounce simple syrup*
  • Lime wedge

Method

  1. Combine rum, lime juice, and simple syrup in a shaker with ice.
  2. Shake well and strain into a cocktail glass.
  3. Garnish with a lime wedge.

*For simple syrup, combine equal parts sugar and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Chill and refrigerate in an airtight container for up to a month.

Dark ‘n Stormy

Cuba Libre dark and stormy
Elizabeth Fernandez / Getty Images

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces dark rum
  • 4 ounces ginger beer for Moscow mules
  • 1/2 ounce lime juice
  • Lime wedge

Method

  1. In a Collins glass filled with ice, combine rum, ginger beer, and lime juice.
  2. Garnish with a lime wedge.

Negroni

Negroni cocktail served in a glass
Geoff Peters / Flickr

Ingredients

  • 1 ounce gin
  • 1 ounce Campari
  • 1 ounce Sweet Vermouth
  • Orange peel and a pinch of salt (for garnish)

Method

  1. Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice, and stir until well-chilled.
  2. Strain into a double Old Fashioned glass over fresh ice.
  3. Express orange peel over the drink and drop in the glass with a pinch of salt.

Dry martini

Dry martini served in a martini glass
Don LaVange / Flickr

Ingredients

  • 2 1/4 ounces London Dry Gin
  • 3/4 ounces Dry Vermouth
  • 1 dash orange bitters
  • Lemon peel and/or olive (for garnish)

Method

  1. Combine gin, vermouth, and bitters in a mixing glass with ice and stir until ice cold.
  2. Strain into a cocktail glass.
  3. Express lemon oil over the drink and drop the peel into the glass along with olive, if desired.

French 75

French 75 cocktail in the spotlight
robert84ak / Pixabay

Ingredients

  • 1 ounce gin
  • 1/2 ounce lemon juice
  • 1/2 ounce simple syrup*
  • 4 ounces Champagne
  • Long lemon twist (for garnish)

Method

  1. Combine gin, lemon juice, and simple syrup in a cocktail shaker with ice and shake vigorously.
  2. Strain into a champagne flute, and top with champagne.
  3. Carve a long, thin strip of lemon peel with a channel knife and coil into a glass.

*For simple syrup, combine equal parts sugar and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Chill and refrigerate in an airtight container for up to a month to use in your French 75.

Whiskey highball

Highball cocktail
Brent Hofacker / Adobe Stock

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces whiskey
  • 4-6 ounces chilled soda water
  • Ice (large, clear ice cubes are ideal for slow dilution and a more refreshing drink)
  • Lemon wedge or lime wedge (for garnish)

Method

  1. Fill a highball glass with ice and let it sit for a few minutes to chill the glass. Swirl the ice around and discard any melted water.
  2. Pour the whiskey into the chilled glass.
  3. Slowly pour in soda water, leaving some room at the top.
  4. Give the drink a gentle stir to combine the whiskey and soda water without losing too much fizz.
  5. Garnish with the lemon or lime wedge.

Mojito

Mojito on a bar ready to serve
Tatyana Vega / Unsplash

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces white rum
  • 3/4 ounce lime juice
  • 1/2 ounce simple syrup*
  • 4 ounces soda water
  • 6 leaves plus 1 sprig of fresh mint

Method

  1. Combine mint and simple syrup in the bottom of a cocktail shaker and muddle gently.
  2. Add rum, lime juice, and ice, and shake briefly.
  3. Strain into a Collins glass with ice, and top with soda water.
  4. Garnish with mint sprig.

*For simple syrup, combine equal parts sugar and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Chill and refrigerate in an airtight container for up to a month.

Cosmopolitan

Cosmopolitan cocktail
Ralph Daily / Flickr

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 ounces citron vodka
  • 1/2 ounce Cointreau or other orange liqueur
  • 1/2 ounce lime juice
  • 1/2 ounce cranberry juice
  • Lime wheel (for garnish)

Method

  1. Combine vodka, orange liqueur, and juices in a cocktail shaker with ice, and shake vigorously.
  2. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
  3. Garnish with a lime wheel.

Whiskey sour

Whiskey sour outside on a table
Billy's Booze Blog / Flickr

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces whiskey
  • 3/4 ounce lemon juice
  • 3/4 ounce simple syrup*
  • 1 egg white (optional)
  • Cherry (for garnish)

Method

  1. Combine whiskey, lemon, simple syrup, and egg white (if using) in a cocktail shaker with ice, and shake vigorously.
  2. Strain into a double Old Fashioned glass over fresh ice.
  3. Garnish with a cherry.

*For simple syrup, combine equal parts sugar and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Chill and refrigerate in an airtight container for up to a month.

Americano

Americano cocktail
Wine Dharma / Flickr

Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 ounces Campari
  • 1 1/12 ounces sweet vermouth
  • 3 ounces soda water
  • Orange peel (for garnish)

Method

  1. Combine Campari, vermouth, and soda water in a Collins glass with ice.
  2. Garnish with orange peel.

The Last Word

Last Word cocktail
Tim Sackton / Flickr

Ingredients 

  • 3/4 ounce gin
  • 3/4 ounce green chartreuse
  • 3/4 ounce maraschino liqueur
  • 3/4 ounce lime juice

Method 

  1. Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice and shake vigorously.
  2. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Sidecar

A pair of classic sidecar cocktails, served in vintage cocktail glasses with sugared rims, sitting on a vintage silver cocktail tray
Brandy Daisy / Getty Images

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces brandy or cognac
  • 1 ounce Cointreau
  • 3/4 ounce lemon juice
  • Sugar, for rim

Method 

  1. Wet rim of a chilled cocktail glass with a lemon wedge and roll in sugar.
  2. Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice and shake vigorously.
  3. Strain into sugared glass.

Champagne cocktail

Champagne cocktail lemon peel
Rob Bertholf / Flickr

Ingredients

  • 6 ounces Brut champagne
  • 1 sugar cube
  • 4 dashes Angostura bitters
  • Long, thin lemon twist

Method 

  1. Place the sugar cube in the bottom of a champagne flute and soak it with bitters.
  2. Top with champagne.
  3. Carve a long, thin strip of lemon peel with a channel knife and coil into a glass.

Caipirinha

Cachaca caipirinha cocktail
Paulo Leandro Souza De Vilela Pinto

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces cachaça
  • 2 teaspoons of sugar (cane sugar is best)
  • Juice of 1 lime
  • Lime wheel (for garnish)

Method

  1. Cut the lime into wedges, and remove the pith (white, fibrous middle portion of the lime).
  2. Place the lime wedges and sugar into an Old Fashioned glass and muddle well.
  3. Add the cachaça and stir.
  4. Fill the glass with ice and place the lime wedge on the rim.

Ranch Water

A serving of ranch water cocktail
Brent Hofacker / Adobe Stock

Ingredients

  • 2 parts tequila
  • 1 part Citrónage orange liqueur
  • 1 part lime juice
  • Topo Chico

Method

  1. Combine ingredients in a glass.
  2. Top with Topo Chico.
  3. Hold on to the extra mineral water and serve what’s left in the bottle with the cocktail.
Mark Stock
Mark Stock is a writer from Portland, Oregon. He fell into wine during the Recession and has been fixated on the stuff since…
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