The Classic Cocktails Every Home Bartender Should Know How to Make

Old-Fashioned
Photo: Blaine Moats

You don't need to be a seasoned bartender to mix up your favorite classic cocktails. With top-notch ingredients and simple techniques, these time-honored drink recipes are easy to make any time. So send out the cocktail party invites or plan a relaxing night in with the classics and reach for cooling mint juleps, sophisticated Manhattans, and more.

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Classic Margaritas

Classic Margaritas
Andy Lyons

There are hundreds of variations of the classic tequila cocktail, but this simple on-the-rocks recipe stays true to its roots. Fresh-squeezed lime juice cools the earthy taste of tequila, and triple sec adds an extra splash of citrus. Rimming the glasses with fine sugar creates delicious contrast; remember to serve with chips and salsa.

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Summer Fruit Daiquiri

Summer Fruit Daiquiri
Scott Little

One of our most popular cocktail recipes of all time, this sweet daiquiri is best when it's blended with fresh summer fruit. Choose peaches, strawberry, mango, watermelon, or any combination you like, then blend with ice and rum. One sip and you'll agree this recipe is one of the best classic cocktails ever.

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Manhattan

Manhattan Drink
Blaine Moats

With just three ingredients and a maraschino cherry, Manhattans are as easy to make as they are timeless. Full-bodied bourbon, vermouth, and a dash of bitters are shaken and strained into a chilled glass for one seriously sophisticated drink. Garnishing with a fresh or maraschino cherry is up to you, but it makes this classic bourbon cocktail even more authentic.

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Bloody Mary

Bloody Mary
Andy Lyons

This classic vodka cocktail's claim to fame is its unique and spicy blend of tangy tomato juice, Worcestershire sauce, and cayenne pepper. Bloody Marys are easy to mix, so get creative and experiment with the ingredients to hone in on your ideal recipe. Include your favorite savory garnishes on the side—celery stalks and dill pickle spears are nice, but spicy jalapeños, bacon, and even sliders all make delicious additions to this ultra-popular drink.

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Piña Colada

Piña Colada
Matthew Clark

It's not truly a party until you break out the piña coladas. This classic tiki cocktail is a must for any beach-theme party, or any time you want to relax and unwind on a tropical staycation. Coconut, lime, crushed pineapple, and rum deliver all of the fruity island flavors you're craving.

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Spicy Tomato Gin & Tonic

Spicy Tomato Gin Tonic
Andy Lyons

This spiced-up version of a classic gin cocktail has just the right amount of burn in each sip. Cherry tomatoes and dill keep it fresh while a dash of hot pepper sauce adds delicious heat. It's one of the best drinks to serve when you're craving something a little lighter than a bloody Mary but fancier than a simple gin and tonic.

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Mojito

Mojito
David A Land

This traditional Cuban cocktail might be the last word in refreshing drinks. Smooth light rum takes on a tart, cooling flavor as it's poured over muddled mint, sugar, and lime juice. Finish this classic rum cocktail with extra mint leaves and lime wedges.

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Cider Moscow Mule

Cider Moscow Mule
Brie Passano

Grab your copper mug. This take on a traditional moscow mule still mixes vodka, ginger beer, and lime but adds apple cider to the mix for a crisp, refreshing sip for fall. Classic vodka cocktails have never tasted better.

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Cardamom Negroni

Cardamom Negroni
Andy Lyons

Put a new spin on an old Italian favorite by using cardamom-infused gin. It adds a little extra complexity to an otherwise classic gin cocktail made with vermouth and Campari. To make a truly elegant drink, serve with a roasted orange slice on the rim.

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Whiskey Sour

Whiskey Sour
Blaine Moats

Bring vintage flair to your next cocktail party with this so-easy whiskey sour recipe—no cocktail shaker required. Splashes of lemon and lime juice balance the sharp flavor of your favorite whiskey. Sweeten each sip of this classic whiskey cocktail with just a hint of sugar.

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Peach Bellinis

Peach Bellinis
Blaine Moats

With sparkling wine, peach nectar, and fresh fruit, oh-so-simple bellinis lend an air of sophistication to any occasion. Sweet peaches balance perfectly with the crisp wine, making this an essential addition to your classic cocktail list. Add a few raspberries to each glass for added color and fruity flavor.

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Martini

Martini
Blaine Moats

Whether you prefer a martini shaken or stirred, this classic cocktail adds a touch of sophistication to any occasion. Choose gin or vodka, then shake with dry vermouth and strain into a martini glass. A lemon peel twist or a toothpick threaded with green olives makes a timeless finishing touch.

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Mint Julep

Mint Julep
Blaine Moats

This southern belle of cocktails has a rich history, but it's best known as the official drink of the Kentucky Derby. With three simple ingredients—muddled fresh mint leaves, bourbon, and a hint of sugar—it's easy to see why this popular drink recipe stands the test of time. Serve over crushed ice for a crisp, cool, and classic bourbon cocktail.

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Old Fashioned

Old-Fashioned
Blaine Moats

The old fashioned is just that. Originating in the late 1800s, this drink's long-lived popularity is a testament to its delicious flavor. A dash of sugar muddled with bitters and an orange slice makes a citrusy-sweet base for this classic bourbon cocktail. Serve on the rocks in glass tumblers with a maraschino cherry (or two).

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Gimlet

Gimlet
Peter Krumhardt

Sweetened lime juice helps highlight the flavors of your favorite vodka or gin in this classic gimlet recipe. Shake, strain, and pour into chilled martini glasses with bright lime peel twists. If you need to make your own sweetened lime juice for this classic vodka cocktail, just mix water and sugar with freshly squeezed lime juice.

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Sour Apple Martini

Sour Apple Martini
Peter Krumhardt

You'll love the slightly sour taste of this popular apple cocktail. Start with vodka or gin, then shake with sour apple schnapps. A splash of lemon-lime soda provides bubbles and balance for the tart schnapps, and a maraschino cherry garnish finishes each drink with elegance.

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Mimosas

Mimosas
Jay Wilde

Orange juice justifies mimosa's brunch-time popularity; bubbly champagne gives it company-worthy appeal. This recipe features both orange juice and limeade concentrate, so each sip is extra citrusy. Serve this classic champagne cocktail with strawberry ice cubes for fruity flavor and fun color.

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