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5 American Cocktails to Make Today

Updated: May 18, 2021

Like many people who study abroad, I had my first proper introduction to the world of cocktails in the United States. Dropping by the local bars in town, I did most of my learning by talking to the bartenders and exploring their menus. Today, for National (American) Cocktail Day, I thought I'd pay tribute to some of the most American cocktails I drank while still in the country. Each has a unique origin in the United States and can be considered a classic or modern tipples of the nation. Even though this list can go on and on, here are five that I've whipped up right at home for you:

Gin Rickey

A refreshing and sugarless gin cocktail named after Democratic lobbyist Joe Rickey. It was originally created as a Bourbon Rickey in the late 19th Century in Washington D.C. for Rickey, who liked zero-sugar drinks. However, over time the recipe changed as people favored the gin version over the original bourbon and thus, the Gin Rickey was popularized and preferred. The cocktail has also famously made an appearance in The Great Gatsby, served by Tom Buchanan to his guests since it was a favorite drink of author F. Scott Fitzgerald.

  • 60ml Gin

  • 15ml Lime Juice

  • Top up with Soda Water

Combine the ingredients in a highball glass over ice. Garnish with a lime wheel.

Long Island Iced Tea

Popularized in the 1970s, the Long Island Iced Tea ironically doesn't contain any tea. However, there is a strong claim of its origins in 1972 on Long Island, New York. A very boozy cocktail on account of the 120ml of alcohol overlapping the mixers. Not to be taken lightly, it was a common drink ordered in the bars in the United States for those looking for a quick buzz.

  • 15ml Vodka

  • 15ml White Rum

  • 15ml Blanco Tequila

  • 15ml Gin

  • 15ml Triple Sec

  • 15ml Lime Juice

  • 15ml Simple Syrup

  • Top up with Cola

Combine the ingredients in a highball glass over ice. Garnish with a lemon wedge.


One of the most popular and "classic" cocktails on the list, the Manhattan is a staple in cocktail bars around the US and even the world. 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 Originally made with rye whiskey, today, Bourbon is an acceptable substitute for the spicy whiskey.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.

Mint Julep

The Mint Julep is one of THE American cocktails, the signature drink of the Kentucky Derby. A refreshing drink that combines bourbon whiskey, sugar, and mint has stood the test of time since its creation in the early 1800s. Traditionally served in a rock glass or a silver julep cup, it is an easy cocktail to even make at home.

  • 60ml Whiskey (typically Bourbon)

  • 1/2 Teaspoon of Sugar

  • 2-3 Dashes of Angostura Bitters

  • 1 Teaspoon of Water

  • 8-10 Mint Leaves

Add the sugar and water in a glass. Stir till the sugar is nearly dissolved. Add the mint leaves and lightly muddle. Fill the glass with crushed ice, add the whiskey, and stir. Top the drink off with more crushed ice and garnish with a mint sprig.


Crowned the official cocktail of the city of New Orleans in 2008, this close cousin of the Old Fashioned has been around since its creation in the 1800s. Traditionally, the recipe called for French Brandy or Cognac until it was replaced with American Rye Whiskey during the 19th centutry. However, this recipe calls for a combination of both spirits to come to a delicious compromise.

  • 30ml Rye Whiskey

  • 30ml Cognac

  • 3 Dashes Peychaud's Bitters

  • 1 Sugar Cube

  • Absinthe to rinse the glass

Rinse a chilled old-fashioned glass with absinthe and discard the excess. Combine the rest of the ingredients in a mixing glass with ice and stir. Strain into the absinthe rinsed glass. Twist a lemon peel over the drink to express the oils, and garnish with the peel.

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