How to Make Easy Party Cocktails

Impress your guests and friends by learning how to make party cocktails. Whether you're on the lookout for easy vodka cocktails or cheap alcoholic party drinks, our simple tips and cocktail recipes will give you the bartending confidence you need to host your own cocktail party.

Easy Party Cocktails

No party is complete without a few cocktails! You don't have to spend the whole night playing bartender, either—with our easy cocktail recipes, you can stir or shake together refreshing party drinks in minutes. Choose from easy fruity cocktails, classic cocktail recipes, and more! By following our tips and tricks, you can also get creative behind the bar and wow your pals with your mixology skills.

Easy Party Drink Basics

Most cocktail drinks consist of four basic parts. Whether you are making margaritas, martinis, daiquiris, or other popular cocktails and mixed drinks, each element makes a different contribution to a drink's flavor. Basic cocktail components:

  • Bases are the spirits, or liquor, in a mixed drink. Common cocktail bases include bourbon, vodka, gin, brandy, rum, and tequila.
  • Modifiers (or mixers) will enhance your party drink without overpowering it. Popular mixers include vermouth, tonic, club soda, mild or sweet fruit juices, sparkling wines, and soft drinks.
  • Accents are strongly flavored ingredients. Common party cocktail accents are lemon, lime, bitters, grenadine, and complex liqueurs.
  • Garnishes add color, flair, and a bit of flavor to cocktails. Olives, cherries, and citrus curls or wedges are a few traditional cocktail garnishes.

Basic cocktail recipe:

  • 2 parts of any base (spirit)
  • 1 part modifier or mixer, such as fruit juice
  • 1 part accent, such as a flavored liqueur or simple syrup
  • Garnish

In general, the base is the first ingredient placed in a glass, shaker, or pitcher. Add the modifiers, accents, and ice to the container; shake or stir as the drink recipe requires. Add garnishes to the finished cocktail just before serving.

Try mixing up these garden-fresh cocktail recipes!

Cocktail Mixing Techniques

There are three main ways to mix cocktail drinks: shaking, blending, and muddling. With these easy drink-mixing techniques mastered, you can create all kinds of crowd-pleasing sips.

Shaking the cocktail ingredients with five or six large ice cubes incorporates water and softens the alcohol's edge in your cocktail, resulting in a well-balanced mixed drink. Shake for 10-20 seconds, and use fresh ice for every batch.

Blending yields frozen party cocktails with unbeatable fresh fruit flavor and a smooth texture. The basic ingredients are fruit, liquor, and ice. When making blended drinks, remember to blend the liquor, juices, and fruit before adding ice. You can also use crushed ice.

Muddling a cocktail means slightly bruising fruits, herbs, or zests to bring out essential oils and bold flavor. For the best results, use a drink muddler, or long pestle, and twist herbs and fruit to extract oils. Look for a heavy, flat-bottomed wood muddler, or you can also use the end of a wooden spoon.

Must-Have Cocktail Ingredients

Stock up on a few cocktail ingredients so you can quickly mix up memorable party drinks for guests.

  • Bitters are strong alcohols distilled from herbs, flowers, seeds, and other aromatics. Bitters are an important ingredient in easy classic cocktails such as an Old-Fashioned or Manhattan.
  • Sweet vermouth is a fortified wine. It's worth seeking out a higher quality sweet vermouth to avoid sticky-sweetness.
  • Prosecco is the Italian version of Champagne. Drink it alone, use it in a sparkling specialty cocktail (such as a bellini), or make it a mimosa by adding fruit juices or purees.
  • St. Germain is a low-sugar French liqueur made from elderflower blossoms. Mix it with white or sparkling wine or into an easy fruit cocktail. 
  • Simple syrup, a key cocktail sweetener, is made with equal parts sugar and water. Simply heat equal parts sugar and water slowly in a saucepan and stir until the sugar dissolves.
  • Sour mix is best when freshly made. Squeeze fresh lemon juice and strain with a sieve. Combine two parts lemon juice with one part simple syrup. Refrigerate for up to 5 days.

Like Old-Fashioned Cocktails? Then you'll love these cocktail-inspired donuts!

Must-Make Easy Classic Cocktail: The Manhattan

When it comes to classic cocktail recipes, you can't skip the Manhattan. A great choice for beginners, this simple cocktail recipe only requires three ingredients (plus a cherry garnish!). If you've been on the lookout for easy alcoholic drinks to make at home, you won't find anything much simpler or tastier than a basic Manhattan.

To make one Manhattan, combine 2 ounces of bourbon, 1/2 ounce of sweet vermouth, and a dash of bitters in a cocktail shaker. Add ice cubes; cover and shake until very cold. Strain liquid into a chilled glass or a glass filled with additional ice cubes. Garnish with a cherry. 

Learn how to make a Manhattan (including which glass to use!) with our easy guide.

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