Resources, Advice & Tips for Covid-19
Read More

25 Best Classic Cocktail Recipes for Any Occasion

Karen Frazier
Bartender Garnishing Drink On Counter In Bar

The best classic cocktails have gained traction in bars around the world, whether they were created more than a century ago or they are a more modern concoction. These 25 classic cocktail recipes are among the best for all occasions using a variety of liqueurs and different cocktail ingredients, techniques, and garnishes, so there's sure to be something for every cocktail lover.

1. French 75 Cocktail

The International Bartenders Association (IBA) lists the French 75 cocktail as one of 31 contemporary classic cocktails every bartender should have in their back pocket. It's a fizzy, refreshing Champagne and gin cocktail with a hint of citrus.

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. In a cocktail shaker, combine the lemon juice, simple syrup, and gin.
  2. Add the ice. Shake to chill.
  3. Strain into a Champagne flute. Top off with the chilled Champagne.
  4. Garnish with a lemon peel.
Lemon French 75 Cocktail

2. Gin Fizz

The gin fizz is one of 30 cocktails the IBA deems as unforgettable cocktails; popular classic cocktails that have withstood the test of time. Fizz cocktails are one of the earliest types of mixed drinks. They've been around for a long time. This simple version uses aromatic London dry gin and enhances it with the flavor of citrus with freshly squeezed lemon juice. An egg white adds a nice foam to the top of the drink, while simple syrup adds sweetness and club soda adds the fizz. To make the egg white foam, you use a cocktail mixing technique called dry shaking in which you shake the ingredients vigorously without ice first, and then add ice and shake again.

Ingredients

  • ¾ ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ¾ ounce simple syrup
  • 1½ ounces London dry gin
  • 1 egg white
  • Ice
  • 2 ounces club soda
  • Lemon wedge for garnish

Instructions

  1. In a cocktail shaker, combine the lemon juice, simple syrup, gin, and egg white.
  2. Shake vigorously without ice for about one minute.
  3. Add the ice. Shake again to chill.
  4. Strain into a collins glass filled with ice.
  5. Add the club soda. Garnish with a lemon wedge.
Refreshing Cold Egg Gin Fizz

3. Paloma

The Paloma is Mexico's favorite cocktail, so it's probably no surprise it's a tequila-based drink. It's a refreshing combination of blanco tequila or mescal, grapefruit juice, lime, and club soda with a salty rim.

Ingredients

  • Sea salt
  • 1 grapefruit wedge
  • 1½ ounces freshly squeezed grapefruit juice
  • 1 barspoon freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 barspoon simple syrup
  • 1½ ounces blanco tequila or mescal
  • Ice
  • 4½ ounces club soda

Instructions

  1. Run a grapefruit slice around the rim of a collins glass and dip the glass in salt.
  2. In a cocktail shaker, combine the grapefruit juice, lime juice, simple syrup, and tequila.
  3. Shake to chill.
  4. Strain into the salt dipped glass filled with ice.
  5. Top off with club soda. Garnish with the grapefruit wedge.
Refreshing Tequila Paloma Cocktail

4. Classic Daiquiri

The daiquiri has morphed over the years into a fruity rum drink that's often sweet and blended/frozen. Its original form, however, is a simple rum sour with just a few ingredients and no blender in sight. This is the cocktail that has launched dozens of other mixed drink variations. However, sometimes it's just nice to return to your roots and enjoying a classic daiquiri is a great way to do it.

Ingredients

  • ¾ ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
  • ¾ ounce simple syrup
  • 1½ ounces white rum
  • Ice
  • Lime slice for garnish

Instructions

  1. Chill a cocktail glass.
  2. In a cocktail shaker, combine the lime juice, simple syrup, and rum.
  3. Add the ice and shake to chill.
  4. Strain into the chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with the lime slice.
Daiquiri being prepared

5. White Lady

The white lady cocktail was created in London in the 1930s. It's a classic combination of gin, lemon juice, egg white, and triple sec that's sweet, sour, and frothy. Serve it straight up in a coupe or a martini glass. This cocktail also uses a dry shake technique to make the egg white foam.

Ingredients

  • ¾ ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ¾ ounce triple sec or orange liqueur
  • 1½ ounces London dry gin
  • 1 egg white
  • Ice

Instructions

  1. Chill a martini glass or a coupe.
  2. In a cocktail shaker, combine the lemon juice, triple sec, gin, and egg white.
  3. Shake without ice to foam the egg whites.
  4. Add the ice. Shake to chill.
  5. Strain into the chilled glass.
Ice maiden holding cocktail with sparklers

6. Americano

The Americano is another of IBA's unforgettable cocktails. It's a bittersweet blend of Campari and vermouth with some club soda and ice added, and it has a gorgeous sunset color thanks to the blend of the vibrant red-orange Campari and red sweet vermouth.

Ingredients

  • 1½ ounces Campari
  • 1½ ounces sweet vermouth
  • Splash of club soda
  • Orange peel for garnish

Instructions

  1. Fill an old-fashioned glass with a few ice cubes.
  2. Add the Campari and vermouth. Stir to chill.
  3. Top with the club soda. Garnish with the orange peel.
Americano Alcohol cocktail with red vermouth

7. Derby Cocktail

Another IBA unforgettable cocktail, the derby, isn't to be mistaken for the brown derby, which is a classic cocktail in its own right. Help the mint leaves to release their fragrance by bruising them (slap them between your palms) before adding them to the mixing glass. This mixed drink is served straight up in a chilled cocktail glass.

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces London dry gin
  • 2 dashes peach cocktail bitters
  • 2 bruised mint leaves plus a mint sprig for garnish
  • Ice

Instructions

  1. Chill a cocktail glass.
  2. In a mixing glass, combine the gin, cocktail bitters, and mint leaves.
  3. Add the ice. Stir to chill.
  4. Strain into the chilled glass. Garnish with a mint sprig.
Derby Cocktail

8. Mary Pickford Cocktail

The Mary Pickford cocktail came from Prohibition, and it's named after the actress. It's a sweet pink cocktail made with white rum, maraschino liqueur, grenadine, and pineapple juice, and it's on the IBA list of unforgettable cocktails. If you want a pink martini-style drink but aren't into cosmopolitans, then this is a good one to try.

Ingredients

  • 1½ ounces pineapple juice
  • ½ barspoon grenadine
  • 1½ ounces white rum
  • Dash maraschino liqueur
  • Ice
  • Cherry for garnish

Instructions

  1. Chill a cocktail glass or martini glass.
  2. In a cocktail shaker, combine the pineapple juice, grenadine, rum, and maraschino liqueur.
  3. Add the ice and shake to chill.
  4. Strain into the chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with the cherry.
Mary Pickford cocktail

9. Old Fashioned Mixed Drink

The old fashioned has become new again as bartenders and mixologists add their own twists to reimagine this classic cocktail with new flavors. However, there's a reason so many great bartenders have spun the classic old fashioned into something new. In its original form, the old fashioned is the perfect balanced combination of whiskey (usually rye or bourbon), sugar (just one cube), Angostura bitters, and a splash of water or club soda. You can serve it on the rocks or straight-up in an old-fashioned (rocks) glass. Garnish it with a bourbon cherry and/or an orange peel.

Ingredients

  • 1 sugar cube
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
  • 1 orange peel
  • 2 ounces bourbon or rye
  • 2 or 3 ice cubes
  • Splash of water or club soda

Instructions

  1. In a rocks glass, put the Angostura bitters over the sugar cube. Add the orange peel and muddle.
  2. Pour in the rye or bourbon and add the ice and a splash of water or club soda. Stir to chill.
Homemade Old Fashioned Bourbon on the Rocks

10. Sazerac

The Sazerac is one of America's original cocktails, created in New Orleans. It's similar to the old-fashioned, and it features a combination of sugar, rye whiskey, absinthe, and bitters. It uses a technique called rinsing in which you swirl absinthe in the glass to flavor the drink and then pour out any excess absinthe once you have the inside of the glass entirely coated. You'll find recipes for the Sazerac that use Herbsaint in place of the absinthe, but if you like classic drinks made the way they were originally intended, then this recipe is for you.

Ingredients

  • ¼ ounce absinthe
  • 1 sugar cube
  • 4 dashes Peychaud's bitters
  • 2 ounces rye whiskey
  • Ice
  • Lemon peel for garnish

Instructions

  1. Chill a rocks glass.
  2. Add the absinthe to the glass. Swirl to coat the entire inside of the glass and discard any excess absinthe.
  3. In a mixing glass, muddle the sugar cube and bitters.
  4. Add the rye and ice. Stir to mix.
  5. Strain into the absinthe-rinsed glass. Garnish with the lemon peel.
Refreshing Whiskey Sazerac Cocktail

11. Mint Julep

The mint julep is classically southern and closely associated with the Kentucky Derby. It's a variation on one of the oldest types of cocktails called a smash. It's made with a combination of superfine sugar, mint, bourbon, and lots of crushed ice and served in a frosty sterling silver julep cup. It has been popular for over a century.

Ingredients

  • 10 mint leaves
  • 1 barspoon of superfine sugar
  • 2 ounces bourbon
  • Finely crushed ice
  • Splash of seltzer
  • Mint sprig for garnish

Instructions

  1. In a julep cup, muddle the mint leaves and sugar.
  2. Add the bourbon and fill the cup with crushed ice. Stir to frost the outside of the glass.
  3. Mound crushed ice over the top and add the seltzer. Garnish with the mint sprig.
Cold Refreshing Classic Mint Julep

12. Sea Breeze Cocktail

The sea breeze is a contemporary classic vodka cocktail that has evolved over the years. It's a balanced combination of sweet and sour that today contains cranberry juice, grapefruit juice, and vodka. Earlier versions had other ingredients such as peach liqueur and blue curaçao, but the modern version is what you'll receive today when you order it in a bar.

Ingredients

  • 3 ounces cranberry juice
  • 1½ ounces grapefruit juice
  • 1½ ounces vodka
  • Ice
  • Lime wheel for garnish

Instructions

  1. In a cocktail shaker, combine the cranberry juice, grapefruit juice, and vodka.
  2. Add the ice and shake to chill.
  3. Strain into a highball glass filled with ice. Garnish with the lime wheel.
Sea Breeze

13. Tuxedo

The tuxedo is another IBA official cocktail that's on their unforgettable cocktails list. The original recipe is made with Old Tom gin, which is sweeter than London dry gin but just as aromatic. You'll find a number of variations on the tuxedo, but this is the classic that has withstood the test of time.

Ingredients

  • 1½ ounces Old Tom gin
  • 1½ ounces dry vermouth
  • Dash maraschino liqueur
  • Dash absinthe
  • 2 dashes orange bitters
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
  • Ice
  • Lemon peel for garnish

Instructions

  1. Chill a martini glass.
  2. In a mixing glass, combine the gin, vermouth, maraschino liqueur, absinthe, orange bitters, and Angostura bitters.
  3. Add the ice and stir to chill.
  4. Strain into the chilled martini glass. Garnish with the lemon peel.
Tuxedo cocktail

14. Classic Margarita

Like the daiquiri, the classic margarita has spawned multiple spinoffs in a wide variety of flavors. And while margaritas are often frozen and blended, the classic is a simple tequila sour made with fresh lime juice, triple sec, tequila, and a salted rim.

Ingredients

  • Lime wedge
  • Salt
  • ¾ ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
  • ¾ ounce triple sec or agave nectar
  • 1½ ounces blanco tequila
  • Ice

Instructions

  1. Chill a cocktail glass.
  2. Run the lime wedge around the rim of the cocktail glass and dip the rim in the salt.
  3. In a cocktail shaker, combine the lime juice, triple sec or agave nectar, and tequila.
  4. Add the ice and shake to chill.
  5. Strain into the chilled and salt-rimmed cocktail glass filled with ice.
  6. Garnish with the lime wedge.
A fresh margarita

15. Classic Bloody Mary

The bloody Mary has gotten mighty fancy over the years as bartenders and mixologists add interesting ingredients and garnishes to make it their own. The classic bloody Mary, however, is still a thing of beauty and popular as a brunch drink. Whether you want to fancy it up with your own flavors and garnishes or use this simple classic bloody Mary recipe, you'll be enjoying a drink that has been popular for nearly a century.

Group of bloody mary's on an outside table ready for a party

16. Manhattan

The Manhattan cocktail is another mixed drink that's similar to the old fashioned. It's popularly ordered in bars and typically includes rye, sweet vermouth, and bitters. However, you can also use other types of whiskey such as Tennessee whiskey, bourbon, or even Canadian whisky depending on your preference.

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces whiskey, such as rye or bourbon
  • 1 ounce sweet vermouth
  • 1 dash orange bitters
  • 1 dash Angostura bitters
  • Ice
  • Cherry for garnish

Instructions

  1. Chill a martini glass.
  2. In a mixing glass, combine the whiskey, vermouth, orange bitters, and Angostura bitters.
  3. Add the ice and stir to chill.
  4. Strain into the chilled martini glass. Garnish with a cherry.
Two Manhattan Cocktail Drinks

17. Dry Martini

Whether you like it dry or wet, made with gin or vodka, or with a dash of olive brine so it's dirty, there's no arguing that the classic martini has more than withstood the test of time. Classic martinis are made with gin and dry vermouth in various proportions and garnished with an unstuffed Spanish olive (or in some cases, a lemon twist). How you like your martini is largely a matter of personal taste, so your classic martini recipe may vary in proportions of gin to vermouth from nearly straight gin to a 1:1 blend of dry gin and dry vermouth. What remains the same, however, regardless of what type of martini you make is this: martinis show at their best when they are stirred, not shaken as 007 preferred for his favored vesper martini.

Two martinis on table

18. Negroni

The negroni cocktail is a bittersweet combination of Campari, sweet vermouth, and London dry gin. With a lovely orange-red color and a nice balance of bitter, sweet, and aromatic, this negroni cocktail recipe is one to savor.

Negroni, bright, bitter sweet Italian cocktail made with sweet red vermouth, gin, campari, ice and an orange peel

19. Boulevardier

The boulevardier is a variation on the negroni. It's a balanced combination of strong, sweet, and bitter and is made with whiskey (what type is your choice, although bourbon and rye are exceptional choices), Campari, and sweet vermouth.

Ingredients

  • 1 ounce Campari
  • 1 ounce sweet vermouth
  • 1½ ounces bourbon, rye, or Tennessee whiskey
  • Ice
  • Orange peel for garnish

Instructions

  1. In a mixing glass, combine the Campari, vermouth, and whiskey.
  2. Add the ice and stir to chill.
  3. Strain into a rocks glass filled with ice. Garnish with the orange peel.
    Glass of a Boulevardier cocktail with orange zest on the steel wooden bar counter

20. Alexander

You're probably familiar with the brandy Alexander, a variation on the classic Alexander cocktail. But the original isn't made with any type of brandy at all - it's made with dry gin, and sometimes you'll see it called a gin Alexander. However, as it's the original, what it truly is, is simply an Alexander, and it's creamy and delicious.

Ingredients

  • 1½ ounces dry gin
  • ¾ ounce white crème de cacao
  • ¾ ounce half and half
  • 1 egg white
  • Ice
  • Grated nutmeg for garnish

Instructions

  1. Chill a cocktail glass or coupe.
  2. In a cocktail shaker, combine the gin, crème de cacao, half and half, and egg white.
  3. Add the ice. Shake to chill.
  4. Strain into the chilled cocktail glass and garnish with freshly grated nutmeg.
Homemade Creamy Eggnog Cinnamon Dessert Martini

21. Casino Cocktail

The casino cocktail is one of IBAs unforgettable mixed drinks. It's been around since the 1930s, and it's a combination of Old Tom gin, maraschino liqueur, lemon juice, and bitters. The result is a delicious, balanced, and aromatic cocktail.

Ingredients

  • ½ ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ¾ ounce maraschino liqueur
  • 1½ ounces Old Tom gin
  • Dash orange bitters
  • Ice
  • Cherry for garnish

Instructions

  1. Chill a Nick and Nora glass or a cocktail glass.
  2. In a cocktail shaker, combine the lemon juice, liqueur, gin, and orange bitters.
  3. Add the ice and shake to chill.
  4. Strain into the chilled glass. Garnish with the cherry.
Casino Cocktail

22. Sidecar

The sidecar cocktail is a classic combination of Cognac or Armagnac, Cointreau, and lemon juice. This classic sidecar recipe is shaken and served in a sugar-rimmed coupe garnished with a lemon twist.

Sidecar Cocktail Served Up with Sugared Rim in Dark Luxurious Bar

23. Long Island Iced Tea

In terms of cocktail longevity, the Long Island iced tea hasn't been around as long as some classic drinks. It was invented in 1972 and was instantly popular, especially among people who enjoy a pretty strong tipple. Made with multiple types of alcohol, citrus, sugar, and cola, this Long Island iced tea recipe is a contemporary classic that remains wildly popular nearly 50 years after its invention.

Woman holding glass of cold drink with orange juice

24. Stinger

Once considered a cocktail for the elite (probably because it contains Cognac), the stinger cocktail is now a popular cocktail of the people. It's a simple two-ingredient (plus ice and garnish) cocktail made from Cognac and white créme de menthe. This stinger recipe will teach you how to make the classic and several variations.

Stringer Cocktail on a platter

25. Golden Dream

The golden dream cocktail is an after dinner drink IBA has listed as a contemporary classic cocktail. It contains the sweet herbal liqueur Galliano, orange liqueur, orange juice, and cream in a creamy, tasty cocktail.

Ingredients

  • 1½ ounces freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 1½ ounces Galliano
  • 1½ ounces orange liqueur
  • ¾ ounce cream
  • Ice

Instructions

  1. Chill a cocktail glass.
  2. In a cocktail shaker, combine the orange juice, Galliano, orange liqueur, and cream.
  3. Add the ice and shake to chill.
  4. Strain into the chilled cocktail glass.

Great Classic Cocktails

Whether they've been around for a century or they're modern classics, these 25 cocktails are some of the best! Give them a try and see what types of cocktails you enjoy the most.

25 Best Classic Cocktail Recipes for Any Occasion