15 Classic Cocktail Recipes You Need to Know

December 27, 2014

In order to compile this list of need-to-know classic cocktails, I relied on advice from four of my more knowledgeable colleagues. (Perhaps that should have been a warning sign that I was not authorized to write this.) Here is a transript of part of the ensuing converation:

Sarah: by "martinez" do you mean martini?
Marian: no they're distinct
Sarah: i can't tell if you're kidding

Don't let this happen to you.
 I may not know anything about cocktails, but together, let's promise to study these 15 classic recipes and stock up on the spirits we'll need to practice making them. Soon, we'll be the life of the party (and we'll be significantly less likely to say something dumb at a bar -- or in the workplace).

We've also included some tools from our shop collection -- some essential, some ritzy -- to help you make cocktails in style. 

Shop the Story

1. The Whiskey Sour


2. The Last Word: Serve it in these Cocktail & Champagne Coupes.



3. The Singapore Sling: You'll need something to shake it in.



4. The Old-Fashioned: Don't forget a muddler.



5. The Moscow Mule


6. The Southside: It looks perfect in highball glasses.



7. The Boulevardier


8. The Manhattan


9. The Martini: Keep track of whose drinks are whose with these Animal Drink Stirrers.  



10. The Margarita and the cocktail salts you need to line their rims. 



11. The Martinez


12. The Gimlet: Serve them on these classy Brass Coasters



13. The Negroni...or make your life easier and order this handy Negroni Collection.



14. The Daiquiri


15. The Sazerac: Impress your friends with some really fancy ice.


What was the first cocktail you learned to make? Share with us in the comments below! 

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Sarah Jampel

Written by: Sarah Jampel

A (former) student of English, a lover of raisins, a user of comma splices. My spirit animal is an eggplant. I'm probably the person who picked all of the cookie dough out of the cookie dough ice cream. For that, I'm sorry.


Alissa August 27, 2015
Definitely a toss up between a spicy Bloody Mary and a French 75.. both are my family's drinks of choice for the holidays (or anytime, really) and I learned them at a relatively young age. (Doesn't everyone cure their Christmas Eve hangovers with Bloody Mary's on Christmas Day??)
Westcoasty August 23, 2015
A classic gin and vermouth dry martini. It does need to be shaken, and make mine dirty. I still love a martini on occasion. Drawling "Bond, James Bond" is just a fun bonus.
Kirsten August 19, 2015
Champagne cocktail. I worked at a nice place in AK and when I was off the clock Giuseppe would plant one in front of me at the back booth where I folded napkins. He also really helped me graduate from White Zin to better things.
cookdoctor December 29, 2014
First cocktail I ever tryed to make was a Screwdriver! Reminds me I haven't had one for years...
Bevi December 28, 2014
I was a bartender, on and off, for 25 years. As I recall the places I worked, different cocktails were popular, depending on the decade and the venue. A stint at a jazz bar in New Haven produced traditional cocktails, and the occasional Black and Tan.
By the end of my career as a bartender, martinis of every persuasion were the rage.
There was a period in the middle of it all that made me think the sun never set on a Tequila Sunrise….
Gret December 28, 2014
This past summer we were once again, serving Sunrises in our home with bites. Everyone loved them!
Your O. December 27, 2014
I was a bartender for several years... a secret passion that still fills my soul. My first concoction? A whiskey sour for my Mom... with egg whites, too! And here's something every serious imbiber of adult libations should know: http://www.thekitchn.com/whiskey-vs-whisky-whats-the-di-100476. Cheers!
kimikoftokyo November 5, 2014
Gin and tonic. Which is my favorite. A cosmopolitan was next along with a vodka martini
Karen A. October 26, 2014
We called them Scotch Old Fashions. A teaspoon of sugar, jigger of Dewars, add ice and fill with orange juice. We drank them at Christmas time!
Lee October 26, 2014
As a kid in elementary school, I was taught to make my dad's martini: small round stemless glass or rocks glass; 1 large ice cube; cover with Beefeaters Gin; open vermouth bottle and blow across the top of it into the gin; stir counter-clockwise 52 times. Serve to dad. Recap vermouth and gin bottles. :-)
Author Comment
Sarah J. October 27, 2014
Just more proof that dads are clever!!
Gret October 25, 2014
I'm really surprised that the Tom Collins & Pink Lady, weren't included!