Classic Cocktails: 21 of Our All-Time Favorite Drinks
Looking for cocktail recipes everyone will love? From swanky Martinis to casual poolside refreshers, these classic favorites are guaranteed to provide a fun and familiar feel to your next party.
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With equal parts Campari, gin and vermouth, this seemingly-simple cocktail is actually quite intriguing with a bittersweet taste that is both refreshing and complex. Orson Welles was once quoted saying, “The bitters are excellent for your liver, the gin is bad for you. They balance each other out.” The Negroni is traditionally garnished with an orange peel and served on the rocks.
This colorful, bourbon-based cocktail is recognized for its prominent reputation. You'll often see a traditional Manhattan in the hands of New York socialites or among ritzy, fashion-forward movie personalities such as Marilyn Monroe in Some Like It Hot. And, of course, no Manhattan is complete without a cherry on top.
Despite its suggestive name, the Dirty Martini is actually quite sophisticated. This gin-based martini features a surprising splash of olive juice, making it slightly different than its dry counterpart. The salty taste creates a pleasing accompaniment to dry vermouth and gin.
Known for its mature taste, this bourbon-based cocktail is best when mixed with fewer ingredients and garnishes. Skip the pineapples and umbrellas — all this drink needs is whiskey, sugar and lemon juice (and maybe a cherry and orange wedge for garnish) to give it a genuine look and flavor.
This classic Cuban cocktail features a combination of citrus, sweet and mint flavors to overpower the potency of rum and provide a refreshing taste. A Mojito can be especially enjoyable on a hot summer day while lounging poolside.
Take a step back in time with a simple and genuine age-old cocktail: the Old Fashioned. Famous in 19th-century bars and gentlemen's clubs, this bourbon-based drink even became a favorite beverage of President Harry S. Truman.
In cocktail language, “sidecar” actually refers to what’s left over after a bartender mixes a drink. He or she will then pour the remainder into a shot glass on the side, hence the sidecar. But the sidecar has evolved into so much more than a few extra sips. A tasty combination of brandy, triple sec and lemon juice, this incredible drink has definitely come into its own.
Long Island Iced Tea
For those who love iced tea, this Long Island-based highball is even better. It may look like a regular glass of tea, but a mixture of vodka, rum, tequila, gin, triple sec and cola give it a strong and tasty kick.
The Lemon Drop martini is the perfect combination of sweet and sour. Its lemonade-style appearance and flavor make it an ideal beverage for those that like to disguise the potent taste of alcohol. If you're making this drink for party guests, garnish with a fun and colorful lemon twist and add sugar around the rim of the glass for extra sweetness.
This popular and complex beverage can be as spicy or mild as you like. Flavorings such as Tabasco sauce, Worcestershire sauce and cayenne pepper can be added according to your preferred taste. Bloody Marys are most often garnished with a celery stalk, lime wedge and olives, and are the perfect accompaniment to a casual weekend brunch.
A Southern favorite, this fresh-tasting drink features mint, sugar and of course, Kentucky bourbon. Always served in a silver cup, Churchill Downs made the Mint Julep the official drink of the Kentucky Derby in 1938, serving them in souvenir cups, a tradition that lives on today.
Gin and Tonic
The classic Gin and Tonic cocktail originated in the 18th century and is especially popular during the hot summer months. Typically garnished with a lemon or lime, this simple beverage is a fizzy and refreshing drink with a pleasantly bittersweet taste.
Most often enjoyed in Mexican restaurants and to celebrate Cinco de Mayo in the States, it might surprise you to learn that this delicious blend of tequila, triple sec and lime juice is not actually a traditional Mexican drink. In fact, the origin of the Margarita is still somewhat of a mystery. But there’s no doubt, it’s the perfect addition to a basket of chips and salsa.
Believe it or not, vodka hasn’t always been such a popular choice of spirit in the United States. So rumor has it that when a bartender couldn’t move it (along with several cases of ginger beer), the Moscow Mule was born. Served in a copper mug with a hint of lime, this refreshing beverage has been a bar staple ever since.
A bit more intricate than simply adding a shot of whiskey to your morning coffee, a true Irish coffee features strong, dark coffee, Irish whiskey and brown sugar. A sweet layer of heavy whipping cream is the perfect finishing touch to this rich cocktail.
Originally a mix of rum, lime and sugar, the classic Daiquiri has since taken on many forms, including the popular strawberry variety. And though the winning combo was not the first of its kind, the use of Carta Blanca Rum from Cuba gave this drink a fresh spin. Originally served on the rocks, author Ernest Hemingway preferred his frozen and by the double.
Fresh orange juice and vodka make up this simple, two-ingredient cocktail that can be found all over the world and with several ingredient variations and additions.
The name Mai Tai actually translates to “out of this world” in Tahitian, and that’s exactly what it is. This summertime cocktail is actually quite intricate with a torrid history that originated in the 1940s. The tropical beverage got its start in California with the wake of tiki-bar culture, but the true inventor of the popular rum cocktail is a mystery to this day. But to enjoy this tasty concoction, all you really need to know is which dark and light rums you prefer.
This simple, lemonade-style cocktail features gin, lemon juice, club soda and sugar to create a sweet and fizzy combination. Created in the 19th century, the Tom Collins was the classiest cocktail of its day and is still considered a fancy beverage for warm, summer days.
A variation of the classic Daisy, the Cosmopolitan is an exceptional balance of vodka, triple sec and cranberry and lime juice. Generally served in a Martini glass, the Cosmopolitan grew in popularity in the late 1990s thanks to the sultry tastemakers of Sex and the City.
It may be Brazil’s national cocktail, but Americans have definitely caught on to this refreshing drink that is actually made from a unique spirit known as cachaça (made from the fermentation of sugarcane juice that is then distilled). Add some sugar and lime, and you have yourself a delightful beverage with a kick.