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The Top Classic Cocktails to Master

A glass filled with ice and the Old Fashioned cocktail

Craft cocktails are having a moment, but their popularity is thanks to some of the original alcoholic beverages we’ve enjoyed for centuries. While a few drink recipes have been modified throughout the years due to the availability of liquors during historical periods like Prohibition and World War II, they’ve all found their way back to their traditional mix.

With the home bar making a resurgence, now is the best time to master some of the classics. Here are our top nine original cocktail recipes.

The Manhattan

An oldie but goodie that dates back as early as the 1870s, this cocktail is said to have originated at the Manhattan Club in New York City. While there are varying accounts of when and where it was first imbibed, the drink’s earliest published record is in William Schmidt's 1891 book, The Flowing Bowl. Today, there are different variations of the Manhattan, but the classic, no-frills recipe is the way to go.


2 dashes Angostura bitters

1 ounce sweet vermouth

2 ounces bourbon or rye

1 maraschino cherry

Fill a short glass with a few cubes of ice. Add all the ingredients. Stir, and enjoy.

The Old Fashioned

The earliest recorded definition of a “cocktail” was in an 1806 issue of The Balance and Columbian Repository in Hudson, New York. Described as a concoction of spirits, bitters, water, and sugar, the “cocktail” is essentially the recipe for the old fashioned.


1 sugar cube

1 teaspoon water

2 dashes Angostura bitters

2 ounces bourbon or rye

1 piece orange peel

Add the sugar cube to an old-fashioned glass and saturate with bitters and water. Muddle until sugar is mostly dissolved. Fill the glass with one large ice cube or a few smaller cubes. Add the bourbon or rye. Gently stir. Spray the zest of the orange peel in the glass, then use the peel as garnish.

A rose gold shaker behind two martini cocktails with olives inside

The Martini

Today’s ‘tinis come in many forms. From an appletini to a chocolatini, there’s no flavor or garnish that hasn’t tried to make its way into this simply perfect cocktail. Keep to the traditional, late 19th-century mix with this easy recipe.


2½ ounces gin

½ ounce dry vermouth

2 green olives

Set a cocktail glass in the freezer to chill for a few minutes. In a mixing glass, add gin, vermouth, and ice. Stir. Strain the mixed drink into the chilled cocktail glass and garnish with olives.

The Daiquiri

Of Cuban descent, the daiquiri is said to have made its way to America in 1902. Not to be confused with today’s frozen sweet drinks, the traditional daiquiri is light on sugar and easy to consume. Though not originally called a daiquiri, this mixture has been a popular drink in the Caribbean since the late 1700s.


2 ounces light rum

1 ounce fresh lime juice

½ ounce simple syrup

Chill a cocktail glass in the freezer for a few minutes. In a shaker filled with ice, combine rum, lime juice, and simple syrup. Shake vigorously, then strain into the chilled cocktail glass.

The French 75

This cocktail dates back to the 1920s, but it’s very similar to the Champagne Cup, which was well-known in the 19th century. It’s the addition of gin that sets the French 75 apart. Popularized in America at the Stork Club in New York, it’s referenced in classic movies from the 1940s like Casablanca and A Man Betrayed.


1 ounce gin

½ ounce sugar

½ ounce fresh lemon juice

2 ounces Champagne

1 lemon twist

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice and add gin, sugar, and lemon juice. Shake well. Strain into a flute and top with Champagne. Garnish with a lemon twist.

A cocktail glass filled with a classic French 75 standing in the middle of a black glass table

The Margarita

This refreshing cocktail has a bold history that can be traced back to the early 20th century. While its exact origins are disputed, the margarita shares similarities with older concoctions such as the Daisy, a favored drink in the 19th century. Over time, the margarita has become an iconic libation, beloved for its tangy flavors and versatility in iterations.


1 ½ ounces tequila

1 ounce lime juice

¾ ounce triple sec

Salt (optional)

Lime wedge (for garnish)

In a shaker, combine tequila, lime juice, and triple sec. Add ice and shake vigorously. Run a lime along the rim of a cocktail glass and dip it into salt for a salted rim. Strain the cocktail into the prepared glass, ensuring the ice stays in the shaker. Garnish with lime, and enjoy!

The Cosmopolitan

The cosmopolitan cocktail, or the "cosmo," rose to fame in the 1990s and quickly became a symbol of sophistication and elegance. Its origins can be traced back to the 1970s, but it was popularized by TV icon Carrie Bradshaw. The cosmopolitan's association with the glamorous and cosmopolitan lifestyle made it a prime choice for fashionable gatherings and stylish nights out on the town.


1 ½ ounces vodka

1 ounce cranberry juice

½ ounce triple sec

½ ounce fresh lime juice

Lime twist or cranberry garnish

To create a cosmopolitan, begin by filling a cocktail shaker with ice. Add vodka, cranberry juice, triple sec, and fresh lime juice. Shake the mixture vigorously to combine the ingredients and chill the drink.

Strain the cocktail into a chilled martini glass, capturing the vibrant hue of the cosmopolitan. For an added touch, garnish the drink with a lime twist or a floating cranberry.

The Negroni

The Negroni is a classic cocktail that’s captivated taste buds for nearly a century. With Italian roots, this drink has gained worldwide popularity and become a symbol of sophistication and refinement. The Negroni's distinctive combination of bitter, sweet, and herbal flavors has made it a favorite among cocktail enthusiasts, earning it a permanent place in the canon of timeless drinks.


1 ounce gin

1 ounce Campari

1 ounce sweet vermouth

Orange twist or orange slice (for garnish)

Fill a mixing glass with ice. Add gin, Campari, and sweet vermouth to the glass. Stir gently with a bar spoon to combine the ingredients and chill the drink without diluting it excessively. Garnish with an orange slice.

Negroni cocktail in a glass with ice and an orange slice

The Sidecar

The Sidecar cocktail, a classic drink that exudes timeless elegance and sophistication, has been captivating cocktail enthusiasts for decades. With its rich history and impeccable flavor profile, the Sidecar remains a beloved choice for those seeking a refined and memorable libation.

Cheers to the timeless allure of the Sidecar - a true testament to the artistry of mixology and the enduring appeal of a well-crafted libation.


1½ ounces cognac

¾ ounce orange liqueur

¾ ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice

Orange twist or sugar rim as garnish

Chill a coupe or martini glass in the freezer. In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, combine the Cognac, orange liqueur, and fresh lemon juice. Shake. Garnish with the optional orange twist and sugar rim.

Raise the Bar: Mastering Classic Cocktails for Timeless Mixology Magic

These timeless libations not only elevate any gathering but also serve as a testament to the rich history and craftsmanship of the cocktail culture. From the sophisticated elegance of the Negroni to the classic allure of the Sidecar cocktail, these iconic drinks will bring a spritz of joy from New Year’s celebrations to your next BBQ! So, grab your shaker, stock up on quality spirits, and embark on a journey of cocktail mastery.