Five Cocktail Recipes You Should Know

Kathleen Esposito
Colorful Cocktails

A lot of people, even those with an extensive alcohol and barware collection in their homes, do not have a good knowledge of even the simplest of cocktail recipes. What they don't realize is that it is not difficult to impress guests, and not much impresses them more when you get behind the bar than if you know their favorite recipe off the top of your head. With this in mind, it's a good idea to learn these five popular cocktail recipes by heart.

The Basic Martini

Sure, there are at least 57 different varieties of martinis these days, but nothing beats the classic recipe. To make a standard martini, all you need is gin, dry vermouth and an olive.


  • 1/2 ounce of dry vermouth
  • 1 1/2 ounces of gin
  • Ice
  • Olives


In a cocktail glass, use your clean fingertips to dab the dry vermouth in the bottom. You want it fairly well distributed. In a cocktail shaker, shake the gin with ice, and then strain it into the glass. Add your olive and you're finished. You can float the olive in the martini or poke a cocktail pick through its center and rest it on the rim of the glass.

The Manhattan

If your party includes mixed company, it's likely the ladies will prefer Manhattans to martinis since they have a sweet taste instead of the signature bitterness. Manhattans require sweet vermouth, not to ever be confused with dry vermouth. They also take whiskey and bitters. The directions are basically the same as for the martini.


  • 1/2 ounce of sweet vermouth
  • 1 ounce of whiskey
  • 1/2 ounce of bitters


In an old-fashion glass, dab the sweet vermouth into the bottom with your fingers. In a shaker with ice, combine the whisky and the bitters, shake them together, and then strain the mixture into the glass.

Manhattans do not take olives. Instead, garnish them with an orange wedge or a cherry.

The Cosmopolitan

Cosmos were made famous thanks to the Sex and the City television show. These easy-to-make cocktails are delicious. They are also dressed to impress with their cool pink color.

Four Cosmopolitan cocktails


  • 1 ounce vodka
  • 1/2 ounce triple sec
  • 1/2 ounce lime juice
  • 1/2 ounce cranberry juice


Add all the ingredients into a shaker with ice, give them a few shakes, strain them into a martini glass and garnish the glass with a cherry or a lime wedge.

The Screwdriver

One of the easiest cocktails to make, the screwdriver is still a favorite. It works for breakfast, for dinner and for almost any time of day in between.


  • 1/2 ounce of vodka
  • A carton of orange juice


In a rocks glass or a simple juice glass, combine the vodka and orange juice. You can adjust the measurements depending on how strong you'd like the drink to be. Be sure to stir the drink. You can add ice if you like, although it can quickly water down the drink.

The Cuba Libre

One of the most popular cocktails people order in bars is the rum and Coke, and it has been popular for years. Instead of making these in your home bar, dazzle your guests with something new and different. They don't need to know that the only difference between this drink and the rum and Coke is that you garnish it with a lime wedge!


  • Your favorite brand of cola
  • Light rum
  • Fresh lime


In a tall glass with ice, simply pour in the cola and add light rum to taste. Don't forget your garnish. Use lime cola for an even tastier treat.

These five popular recipes will serve you well whenever you entertain, so practice mixing them so you can feel confident when your guests arrive.

Was this page useful?
Five Cocktail Recipes You Should Know