10 Easy Cocktail Recipes You Need to Know

For some, going to a cocktail bar these days could seem like you’re walking into a top-secret laboratory. Between the smoke guns, the malic acid, the house-made liqueurs, and the amari, who knows what kind of madness your friendly neighborhood bartender might be about to cook up.

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 (or whoever you are making it for) buzzed? No, no you cannot.

Below, we’ve collected 10 easy cocktail recipes that’ll take 15 minutes to learn and a lifetime to have fun with. They are:

  • Old Fashioned
  • Manhattan
  • Paloma
  • Margarita
  • Tom Collins
  • Gin and Tonic
  • White Russian
  • Salty Dog
  • Daiquiri
  • Dark ‘n’ Stormy

Then, if you need suggestions for liquor, check out the winners of The Manual Spirit Awards 2018.

Whiskey

Old Fashioned

how to make an old fashioned cocktail

Watch the Video

  • 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.

Manhattan

manhattan cocktail
Dan Baker/The Manual

Watch the Video

  • 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.

Tequila

Paloma

paloma grapefruit cocktail

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

Margarita

margarita tequila cocktail lime strainer
  • 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.

Gin

Tom Collins

tom collins 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

gin vodka lime
  • 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.

Vodka

White Russian

white russian cocktail
Dan Baker/The Manual

Watch the Video

  • 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-grapefruit-cocktail
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.

Rum

Daiquiri

how-to-make-a-daiquiri-cocktail-lime-crop

Watch the Video

  • 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 cocktails

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 January 2019.

Food & Drink

What Is Quinoa and How to Make It in 2 Delicious Recipes

Considered an ancient grain, quinoa is more similar to spinach than it is wheat.
Food & Drink

10 Classic Vodka Cocktail Recipes You Can Mix at Home

One of the benefits of vodka is that it mixes with everything. However, there are a number of classic cocktails that are a little more complex but easy to make.
Food & Drink

The Best Hot Toddy Recipe in the Observable Universe

Here's a video guide on how to make a hot toddy and the history behind this delicious hot cocktail.
Food & Drink

Home Bar Basics: Cocktail Glasses and Other Glassware for Any Drink

From shot glasses for liquor to pints for beer to a Glencairn for whiskey, we've got you covered.