Let's not kid ourselves; there is an infinite number of cocktail recipes anyone can learn in a lifetime. Bartenders are continually creating new recipes daily, reimagining classics, and innovating new concoctions. However, if you're looking for a good list of cocktails, the International Bartenders Association has a list of 100 cocktail recipes from the 20th century to the present day (link here). Then again, it is still 100 recipes to learn, which is a lot. Here are ten classic cocktail recipes from their list that I think you should know how to make. It will come in handy to have a couple of recipes in your pocket; it will undoubtedly impress your mates.
This rum classic makes it on my list because it has always been a delicious expression of a sweet and sour cocktail. Amazingly refreshing and tropical, it is one of those cocktail recipes that all professional bartenders need to know by heart. Trust me; you will like this one.
60ml Light Rum
30ml Fresh Lime Juice
20-30ml Simple Syrup (to taste)
Combine the ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake until well chilled. Then double strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a lime wheel or a lime twist.
2. Dry Martini
Made famous in the James Bond films, this gin classic cocktail traditionally is stirred, not shaken. This spirit-forward drink (which means that it is made entirely of liquor) is an acquired taste but will make it on any essential classic cocktail list. Side note: feel free to substitute the gin with vodka to make it a vodka martini, and add olive brine to make it a dirty martini.
15ml Dry Vermouth
Combine all the ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir until very cold. Then strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.
3. Espresso Martini
This coffee cocktail came about late in the 20th century and has stayed an essential cocktail on bar menus ever since. A perfect balance of booze, coffee, and sugar, the Espresso Martini is simply a delicious tipple. Perfect for a pick-me-up on one of those late nights.
30ml Coffee Liqueur
10ml Simple Syrup
Combine all the ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake until well chilled. Then double strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with three coffee beans.
The first of three whiskey cocktails on this list, the Manhattan is a staple in cocktail bars. The spirit-forward drink is claimed to be named after The Manhattan club where it was invented in the late 1800s. Today, it remains a timeless classic, served up straight in a cocktail glass with a brandied cherry as a garnish. Originally made with rye whiskey, today, bourbon is an acceptable substitute for the spicy whiskey.
60ml Rye or Bourbon Whiskey
30ml Sweet Vermouth
2 Dashes of Angostura Bitters
Combine all the ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir until very cold. Then strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a brandied cherry.
The only tequila cocktail on this list is THE tequila cocktail you will find everywhere around the world. The Margarita nowadays is known as a slushie drink, but I'll share with you the classic recipe, which is tons better. A brilliant mix of tequila, orange liqueur, lime juice, and dare I say agave, a well made Margarita will change the tequila-haters out there.
45ml Blanco or Reposado Tequila
20ml Fresh Lime Juice
20ml Orange Liqueur
5ml Agave Syrup
Combine all the ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake until well chilled. Then double strain into an old fashioned (rocks) glass over ice. Garnish with a lime wedge and salt on the rim (or in the drink).
A Cuban classic, the Mojito is a rum and mint concoction that spells out R-E-F-R-E-S-H-I-N-G in every sense. It is the perfect tropical island cocktail, best enjoyed by the beach or the pool. It does require a bit of extra labor in muddling the mint, but you'll be duly rewarded for all your hard work.
60ml Light Rum
20ml Fresh Lime Juice
15ml Simple Syrup
6 Mint Leaves
Top with Soda Water
Lightly muddle the mint leaves and simple syrup in a highball glass. Add the rum and lime juice. Fill the glass with cracked ice and top up with soda water. Garnish with a sprig of mint and lime wheel. Drink with a reusable or compostable straw (yes, save the sea turtles).
7. Moscow Mule
The most straightforward cocktail recipe on this list, the Moscow Mule, calls for quality vodka and ginger beer pairing. Easy to make, it is typically served in two types of vessels, a highball glass and a Moscow Mule Mug made of copper. Refreshing and simple, this will be a recipe to keep in your back pocket.
15ml Fresh Lime Juice
90ml Ginger Beer
Combine the ingredients in a highball glass or Moscow Mule Mug over ice. Garnish with a mint sprig and lime wheel.
One of the most popular cocktails of the past decade, the Negroni has roots in Italy in the early 20th century. Since then, the recipe hasn't changed, and it calls for equal parts gin, Campari, and sweet vermouth. Another spirit-forward cocktail on this list, the famous Italian aperitif, Campari, lends the Negroni a delicious bittersweet flavor.
30ml Sweet Vermouth
Combine all the ingredients in a mixing glass with ice. Stir until very cold. Then strain into an old fashioned (rocks) glass over ice. Garnish with an orange peel.
9. Old Fashioned
When one thinks of a classic cocktail, they would think of the Old Fashioned. Made ever more popular by Don Draper in Mad Men, this cocktail recipe is more of a template and a serving suggestion for any spirit. However, the traditional recipe calls for Bourbon Whiskey, sugar, bitters, and water.
60ml Whiskey (typically Bourbon)
1/2 Teaspoon of Sugar
2-3 Dashes of Angostura Bitters
1 Teaspoon of Water
Add the sugar, water, and bitters in an old-fashioned glass. Stir till the sugar is nearly dissolved. Fill the glass with ice, add the whiskey, and stir. Express the oils of an orange peel over the drink and leave the peel in the glass.
10. Whiskey Sour
An original classic cocktail recipe, the Whiskey Sour is a favorite in the bar scene and one easily made at home. The original recipe calls for whiskey, lemon, sugar, and egg whites. Today, the egg white is optional and can be substituted by aquafaba (chickpea brine) or excluded altogether. This recipe is a great first-time cocktail for the uninitiated since it's a well-balanced drink.
60ml Bourbon Whiskey
30ml Lemon Juice
30ml Simple Syrup
15ml Egg White or Aquafaba
Combine all the ingredients in a cocktail shaker. Shake without ice. Add ice and shake until well chilled. Then double strain into an old fashioned (rocks) glass over ice. Garnish with a lemon slice and a maraschino cherry.