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30 Great Cocktail Recipes You Should Know – A Couple Cooks
Here are all the great cocktail recipes and alcoholic drinks you should know how to make, from the margarita to the whiskey sour. Cheers!
Here at A Couple Cooks, we think that cooking healthy food at home can be pretty simple. (In fact, we wrote a book about it.) And you know what else? Making cocktail recipes at home can be pretty simple, too. While it might seem intimidating, making a great cocktail is 100% accessible. As we’ve gone about our research, we’ve found that signature alcoholic drinks add infinitely more fun to any evening!
Once we started learning how to make great cocktail recipes, well, we couldn’t stop! We’ve started a library of easy cocktail recipes that we’re always adding to. We can’t wait for you to give them a try. Below are the best of our best cocktail recipes: fun, fancy and everywhere in between! Scroll below the recipes for tips on how to become a semi-professional mixologist. Ready to get drinking?
And now…all the great cocktail recipes you should know!
WOW is all we can say about this cocktail recipe! This whiskey sour has become a family favorite: so much so that it now appears at all our extended family gatherings. It's naturally sweet, sweetened just enough with honey instead of a simple syrup. It's so tasty, our family has been making it for years: we hope it becomes a family favorite in yours! Also try: Boston Sour.
The tart margarita is one of our top cocktail recipes to make at home, and it has endless variations (see below). This one is the classic, made with 3 simple ingredients: lime, Cointreau and tequila! And for a festive topping, try our bright and beautiful margarita salt.
Ahh, the Tom Collins: a nostalgic cocktail that’s about as classic as it gets! This tall highball drink is a gin sour, a sweet and sour drink made with gin. It’s refreshing, bubbly, and makes any evening more fun! Here’s exactly how to make this classic cocktail!
Are there any cocktail drinks more refreshing than a mojito? This iconic Cuban drink is one of the greats. Here’s a recipe for it that’s spot on perfection: not too sweet, bubbly, and minty fresh. Like the margarita, the true version has less sugar and more nuance than what it’s become in bars and pre-made mixes. Here’s exactly how to make a simple mojito! It’s perfect for sipping on the patio, but then again just as good in the dead of winter when you’re dreaming of the beach.
Ever had a Gin Fizz? This simple cocktail recipe is perfectly balanced, both sweet and tart. And adding soda water magically creates a frothy egg white foam topping. Oh and it takes only 5 minutes to make! To make it, you'll shake together gin, lemon juice, maple, and egg white in a cocktail shaker, then pour it into two glasses. When you top off each glass with soda water, the carbonation combines with the egg white to make a frothy foam topping. It’s like magic!
It’s fizzy, it’s tangy, it looks festive, and it goes down easy. What could be better than a Moscow mule? This easy cocktail recipe was invented in the 1940’s, but it’s having a moment now too. This classic Moscow mule recipe timeless and easy to make. With only 3 ingredients and 3 minutes required, it’s perfect to serve for entertaining: or a lazy evening on the patio.
What’s more refreshing than a gin and tonic? Its crisp, botanical flavor is straightforward but at the same time intriguing: a feat using only 2 ingredients! It’s no wonder that this is one of the world’s popular easy cocktails. This recipe takes a few tips from the Spanish gin tonic to amp this drink to the next level.
One of the most stunning and complex cocktail recipes out there is the New York Sour! First you have the whiskey sour layer: sweet tart and perfectly balanced, sweetened with maple for some nuance. Then float a layer of red wine over the top and it adds intrigue, complexity and a fruity acidity. Not to mention it looks simply stunning with the bright two-toned layer. A favorite!
It’s got a brilliant pink color and refreshing flavor: yes, it’s a Cosmo! A Cosmopolitan cocktail, to be exact. Our recipe is more tart than sweet, it's an improved version of the classic using 100% cranberry juice. It's an easy cocktail to make, and it's ready to spice up your next gathering! It's great for dinner parties or drinks on the patio.
This isn’t just an champagne cocktail, it’s THE champagne cocktail. Yes, the Champagne Cocktail is a classic cocktail recipe that's tangy and refreshing. Are you celebrating something? Because this is the drink for you. Adding a sugar cube to champagne makes a fountain of bubbles that positively sparkles!
Another classic cocktail, the Gin Gimlet is super refreshing and takes only 5 minutes to whip up! It’s the perfect balance of sweet and tart with the botanical flavor of gin. A gin gimlet is a classic cocktail made of lime juice, gin and simple syrup. It’s sometimes served with a splash of soda water. While it became popular in the 1950’s, it stems back at least as far as the 1930's. It’s gin forward, so you’ll want to use a great bottle of gin here.
Ready for one of the easiest cocktails with the best flavor? It's a classic daiquiri. Yes, a classic daiquiri isn't frozen at all: it's made of lime, rum and simple syrup. And let us tell you: it is so, so delicious! One of our best easy alcoholic drinks to make at home, we've started making them instead of margaritas (our tried and true fave!). Here's the simple formula for a classic daiquiri that you can memorize.
Bubbly, citrusy, herbal, subtly bitter and lightly sweet…it’s the most classic bubbly mixed drink of them all. Meet the Aperol spritz! This drink is renowned the world over, reaching max popularity in the 2000’s. But did you know it’s actually a classic cocktail from the 1950’s? This Italian cocktail has been capturing hearts and minds for years. Made the right way: it’s absolutely worth the hype.
Here’s one of the very best sour cocktails, and possibly one of the best classic cocktails of all time. The Sidecar! What’s so great about it? Take a taste. This drink is perfectly balanced between sweet and tart, with just the right edge from the boozy Cognac. It’s a complex, layered drink: warm, crisp, dry, rich, and full at the same time. Truly a stunner!
Here's the perfect amaretto sour! Made correctly, this drink can be one of the best cocktails out there (not that syrupy kind made with sour mix). It’s tangy and sweet tart, with a hint of almond from the amaretto that’s toned down by the secret ingredient: bourbon. If you’re not drinking an amaretto sour this way: well, it’s time to start!
Here’s one of the most sophisticated and refreshing cocktail recipes out there: a French 75! It’s got a mysterious name, but it’s made with a few simple ingredients. It’s tangy, bubbly, and a bit botanical, and it makes every occasion more festive!
Move over, Negroni: the Boulevardier is even better! It’s smooth, rich, spicy, bitter, and warm all at once. The vibrant red jewel tone makes it stunning to look at. It’s essentially a Negroni made with whiskey instead of gin, and wow! The sweetness of the bourbon perfectly balances the flavor.
Here’s the best mimosa recipe! This one’s made with Italian Prosecco, orange juice, and a dash of Cointreau for the perfect bubbly citrus flavor. Use Prosecco instead of champagne for a sweeter, nuanced flavor.
The Old Fashioned is one of the most famous cocktails there is: possibly because it’s the oldest! This baby dates back to the early 1800’s, before the words classic and cocktail were even said next to each other. It's barely a cocktail at all: just lightly sweetened booze seasoned with bitters. Here’s how to make a classic bourbon Old Fashioned cocktail that lets the whiskey shine.
The pomegranate martini, a fruity spin on the vodka martini, is perfectly balanced and refreshingly tart. It looks so festive that it’s great for celebrations of all kinds: be it a classy dinner party or New Year’s. Whatever the occasion: this martini delivers! It's got a sweet tart, clean flavor and a sophisticated vibe.
Cousin of the classic margarita, this easy cocktail recipe features tequila with grapefruit instead of lime! This simple drink is sweet tart and refreshing, and you don't even have to dirty a cocktail shaker. It’s perfect for happy hour drinks, or water it down and it could be a brunch drink too. The Paloma is traditionally made with grapefruit soda, but for an all natural spin this recipe uses grapefruit juice and soda water (and it’s easier to find!). Add a salt rim and you’re in business!
This sophisticated whiskey drink has a long history and has come back into style: the Manhattan! It’s a three ingredient cocktail, but there’s so much going on in one sip! Vanilla, oak and caramel notes from the bourbon, sweet and spicy from the vermouth, and bitter and herby from the bitters.
Variation: Try the classic Martinez: like a gin version of a Manhattan! This version is a little smoother and more balanced.
St Germain is very new to the scene, but this elderflower liqueur is a must have in your liquor cabinet. The unique flavor it brings to drinks is unlike any other. This St Germain cocktail become your new go-to! Made with vodka, cranberry and St Germain, it’s sweet tart with a bit of elderflower on the finish. It goes down very easily (so watch out!).
When’s the last time you had a piña colada? They’re not only for the 1990’s or beach resorts, we promise! Turns out, homemade piña coladas are perfect for entertaining. They take only a few minutes to blend up, only require 5 ingredients, and taste so refreshing. All you'll need is frozen pineapple, white rum, coconut milk, lime juice and maple syrup. Oh, and some drink umbrellas too!
Want a sophisticated yet easy drink to whip up to impress? Try the Toronto cocktail! If you love whiskey drinks, this is the cocktail for you. A fancy spin on the Old Fashioned, the Toronto features whiskey and Fernet-Branca. It tastes like a fancy cocktail you’d get from a bar, but with a sophisticated, complex, and rich flavor. It balances the earthiness of the rye whiskey with the subtle bitterness of the Fernet-Branca.
This great cocktail recipe's got a unique name and a beautiful pale pink color! It's made of gin and grapefruit juice, essentially the Greyhound Cocktail except for one thing: the salt rim! It accentuates the sweet and sour flavors. It’s tangy and refreshing, perfect as a brunch drink or for happy hour. It’s got a light summery vibe, but it also works in winter when citrus abounds.
One of the most refreshing cocktails out there: a Southside! This gin cocktail recipe features bright citrus, herbaceous mint, and botanical gin. It's almost like a gin mojito! Or try its cousin drink the Southside Fizz, which adds soda water. It’s tart and fizzy, perfect as a patio drink or for brunch.
Ready for a new easy cocktail recipe? (We know, we have a lot of them!) It’s a vodka smash. It’s tangy and refreshing, featuring muddled blackberries, mint, and lime. It’s tangy, it’s sweet, and it’s got a bit of back-end vodka flavor, though it’s not too strong. Basically: these go down easy — so beware! Here’s how to make a berry vodka smash at home -- and you'll also learn how to muddle mint!
Here’s a sophisticated cocktail recipe that will have all your friends talking about it: the Hanky Panky! It’s complex and nuanced, with a smooth flavor perfect for sipping. The star here is Fernet-Branca, an Italian bitter that adds an herbal punch. The cocktail is perfectly balanced: a little sweet and a little bitter, which makes it irresistible.
And to round out our great cocktail recipes, a classic drink that’s classy and refreshing: the whiskey smash! Contrary to most whiskey drinks, this one is tangy and light, not heavy and boozy. It’s a citrus spin on the classic Mint Julep, featuring lemon and mint. It’s perfect for entertaining or evening cocktails on the patio. (And it’s a little quicker than our famous Whiskey Sour, too!)
What you need to make great cocktail recipes at home
What do you need to make cocktail recipes at home? Well, here’s what we recommend: pick one of these recipes, then get the supplies that you need for that! Instead of outfitting your entire kitchen, pick one of the alcoholic drinks above and start building your tools from there. Here’s what you need to know:
Do I need a jigger? No. All our cocktail recipes are written in both ounces and tablespoons, so you can use a jigger, small measuring glass, or even a tablespoon.
Do I need a juicer? To save your hands from cramping up, we’d recommend it. Here’s the citrus juicer we use.
Do I need a cocktail shaker? A cocktail shaker is useful if you’re making a lot of cocktails. Here’s the cocktail shaker we use.Don’t want to buy one? Use a glass mason jar, fill it with ice, cover and shake!
Do I need a muddler? Here’s the muddler we use. If you don’t want to buy one, use a wooden spoon instead. Here’s how to muddle mint!
Do I need a channel knife? It helps in making cocktail garnishes like a lemon twist. But you can make a lemon twist with a knife!
A few of our recipes use a blender, which we assume you have on hand. And in terms of alcohol: we suggest building out your liquor cabinet one bottle at time. Pick a recipe, then grab the alcohol required.
Step up your cocktail recipes…with clear ice!
One way to take your homemade cocktail recipes one step further? Make clear ice! This crystal clear ice looks beautiful and artisanal, like your cocktail was made at a fancy bar. You can make clear ice at home and it’s so easy! All you need is a small cooler and 24 hours, and your cocktails will look extra stunning. Here’s how to do it! Go to How to Make Clear Ice.
Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.
Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.