Become Your Own Bartender with Our Guide to Mixed Drinks
Use these tips for serving up delicious, quality mixed drinks right at home. We've also got a complete bar supply shopping list as well as a list of classic alcoholic drink recipes to keep handy.
Enjoying a good mixed drink at home is an enjoyable way to relax after a long day of work or to sip with a loved one. If you're used to going out and ordering a Bloody Mary for brunch or an old-fashioned during happy hour, it's actually easy to learn how to properly mix those drinks just like they do at your favorite bar. After using our checklist to make sure your home bar is fully stocked, practice those bartender skills by learning how to make cocktails from our easy bar drink recipe guide.
Bar Drink Supplies to Keep in Stock
When setting up your home bar, decide what mixed drinks you most enjoy or like to serve. From there, use this mixed drinks checklist as a guide so you don't forget anything when happy hour rolls around.
- Liquor: Choose spirits you love or base your liquor list off of your favorite alcoholic drink recipes. If you're unsure what mixed drinks to serve, buy some basics to get started: whiskey, gin, vodka, tequila, rum, or vermouth.
- Mixers: Mixers are an essential part of most cocktails. Some basic mixers include carbonated water, tonic water, lemon-lime seltzer, and ginger ale.
- Garnishes: Top off mixed drinks with garnishes. Maraschino cherries, olives, lemon peels, and lime and lemon wedges are popular drink garnishes.
- Ice: To keep your cocktails cool and refreshing, have about a pound of cubes per person, and more for warm-weather parties.
- Bar glasses: You don't need a huge selection of glassware. Ten- to 16-ounce all-purpose glasses ($30, Bed Bath & Beyond) will work for nearly every alcoholic drink.
- Various bar tools: Be sure to have a few essential bar tools handy such as a cocktail shaker, bottle opener, and corkscrew. If you're brand new to the home bar scene, consider investing in a bar tool set ($90, Crate & Barrel). You may also want a blender ($140, NutriBullet) to make frozen drinks.
How to Make Mixed Drinks at Home
For delicious drinks in a snap, refer to this list of classic alcoholic drink recipes (plus a few with delicious twists) to create at home. Do yourself a favor and keep a mixed drink list with the recipes by the bar. That way you won't have to guess the measurements. All of these mixed drink recipes serve one unless noted, so multiply amounts as needed.
- Bourbon Sour: In a cocktail shaker, combine ice cubes; ¼ cup bourbon, or desired whiskey; 2 tablespoons lemon or lime juice; and 2 tsp to 1 Tbsp. of your desired sweetener (sugar, maple syrup, simple syrup, etc). Shake well to mix. Strain into a chilled glass. Add ice cubes, if desired. Garnish with an orange twist and a maraschino cherry on a skewer.
- Vodka Sour: Prepare Bourbon Sour as directed, except substitute ¼ cup vodka for the bourbon.
- Bloody Mary: In a cocktail shaker combine ice cubes, ⅓ cup chilled tomato juice, 3 Tbsp. vodka, 1 Tbsp. lemon juice, dash Worcestershire sauce, dash celery salt, and dash black pepper or bottled hot pepper sauce. Shake well to mix. Pour into a chilled glass; add ice cubes, if desired. Garnish with a celery stalk or other more extreme garnishes. You can also mix up a batch of Bloody Marys ahead and chill for flavors to meld. Stir before serving.
- Daiquiri: In a cocktail shaker, combine cracked ice, 3 Tbsp. light rum, 2 Tbsp. lime juice, 1 tsp. powdered sugar, and 1 tsp. orange liqueur. Shake well to mix. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
- Frozen Daiquiris: In a blender combine one 6-ounce can frozen limeade or lemonade concentrate and ⅔ cup rum. Cover and blend until smooth. With blender running, add 2½ to 3 cups ice cubes, one at a time, through opening in lid. Blend until slushy. Makes 6 (about 4-ounce) servings.
- Tom Collins: In a tall glass stir together 2 Tbsp. lemon juice and 1½ tsp. sugar or simple syrup. Stir in 3 Tbsp. gin, vodka, or light rum. Add ice cubes. Pour ¾ cup chilled carbonated water down the side of the glass. Garnish with an orange slice and a maraschino cherry.
- Gimlet: In a cocktail shaker combine ice cubes, 3 Tbsp. gin or vodka, and 1 Tbsp. bottled sweetened lime juice. Shake well to mix. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
- Gin and Tonic: Place ice cubes in a glass. Add ¼ cup gin. Pour ½ cup chilled tonic water (quinine water) down the side. Squeeze a lime wedge into glass; stir gently. Add wedge to drink.
- Kir: Pour ¾ cup chilled dry white wine into a chilled wine glass. Add 1 tablespoon crème de cassis; stir gently to mix. If desired, add ice cubes. Garnish with a lemon twist, if desired.
- Manhattan: In a cocktail shaker combine cracked ice, 3 Tbsp. blended whiskey, 1 Tbsp. sweet vermouth, and dash aromatic bitters. Shake well to mix. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a maraschino cherry. For a dry Manhattan, prepare as directed, except substitute dry vermouth for the sweet vermouth. Garnish with a green olive.
- Margarita: In a cocktail shaker combine ice cubes, 3 Tbsp. tequila, 2 Tbsp. orange liqueur, and 2 Tbsp. lime juice. Shake well to mix. For a salt-rimmed glass, rub the rim of a chilled cocktail glass with a lime wedge; invert into a dish of coarse salt. Strain into glass.
- Frozen Margaritas: In a blender container, combine one 6-ounce can frozen limeade concentrate, ⅔ cup tequila, and ½ cup orange liqueur. Cover and blend until smooth. With blender running, add 4 cups ice cubes, 1 at a time, through the opening in lid. Blend until slushy. Serve in salt-rimmed glasses. Garnish with lime slices, if desired. Makes 8 (4-ounce) servings.
- Martini: For a classic martini, in a cocktail shaker combine cracked ice, ¼ cup gin, and 1 Tbsp. dry vermouth. Shake well to mix. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a green olive or a lemon twist.
- Old-Fashioned: Muddle 1 tsp. sugar, a dash of bitters, and an orange slice with the back of a spoon in an old-fashioned glass. Add 2 ounces bourbon and ½ cup ice cubes; stir. Garnish with a maraschino cherry.
- Screwdriver: Place 3 or 4 ice cubes in a tall glass. Add 3 Tbsp. vodka and, if desired, 1 tablespoon orange liqueur. Add ½ to ¾ cup orange juice to fill the glass; stir to mix.
- Simple Syrup: (This isn't a drink, but since it's an easy recipe to make at home without purchasing.) Pour 1 cup boiling water over 1 cup sugar; stir until sugar dissolves. Chill in the refrigerator before using; store in the refrigerator.
- Whiskey Sour: In a cocktail glass 2 ounces bourbon, 1 ounce lime juice, 1 ounce lemon juice, and 1 Tbsp. sugar. Stir until sugar is dissolved. Add ice cubes. Garnish with an orange twist and a maraschino cherry (on a skewer, if you want to be fancy).
- Wine Spritzer: Combine ¾ cup chilled dry white, red, or rose wine with ¼ cup chilled club soda or lemon-lime carbonated beverage. Serve over ice.
After you've got your favorite mixed drink recipes down, sweeten up your after-dinner drink by making a boozy frozen dessert. Or use up those herbs growing in your yard by making some garden-fresh cocktails to really show off your mixology skills. Trying to cut the alcohol need some non-alcoholic drink ideas? Try serving up a refreshing mocktail.