25 Classic Cocktails You Must Try At Least Once

Updated January 7, 2022
variety of assorted cocktails

Jumping into the world of classic cocktails is a daunting idea: where to begin? Although many cocktails have been around for decades, the ones that have withstood the test of time, and remain a shining star at homes and bars, is the best place to start.

French 75

It's a fizzy, refreshing Champagne and gin French cocktail with a hint of citrus.

french 75 cocktail

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Chill a Champagne flute.
  2. In cocktail shaker, add ice, gin, simple syrup, and lemon juice.
  3. Shake to chill.
  4. Strain into chilled glass.
  5. Top off with Champagne.
  6. Garnish with lemon ribbon.

Gin Fizz

Fizz cocktails are one of the earliest types of mixed drinks that have withstood the test of time.

gin fizz cocktail

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces gin
  • ¾ ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ½ ounce simple syrup
  • 1 egg white
  • Ice
  • Club soda to top off
  • Lemon wedge for garnish

Instructions

  1. In a cocktail shaker, add gin, lemon juice, simple syrup, and egg white.
  2. Dry shake for approximately 45 seconds to mix ingredients and create a froth.
  3. Add ice to shaker.
  4. Shake to chill.
  5. Strain into collins glass over fresh ice.
  6. Slowly top off with club soda.
  7. Garnish with lemon wedge, if desired.

Paloma

The paloma is a favorite cocktail among tequila drinkers and non-tequila drinkers alike. The salty rim is optional.

Paloma cocktail

Ingredients

  • Lime wedge and salt for rim
  • 2 ounces tequila
  • ½ ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1 ounce grapefruit juice
  • Ice
  • Grapefruit soda to top off
  • Grapefruit wedge for garnish

Instructions

  1. To prepare rim, rub the rim of the glass with the lime wedge.
  2. With the salt on a saucer, dip either half or the entire rim of the glass in the salt to coat.
  3. In a cocktail shaker, add ice, tequila, lime juice, and grapefruit juice.
  4. Shake to chill.
  5. Strain into prepared glass.
  6. Top off with grapefruit soda.
  7. Garnish with grapefruit wedge.

Classic Daiquiri

The daiquiri has morphed over the years into a fruity rum drink that's often sweet and frozen. However, its original form is a simple rum sour with just a few cocktail ingredients and no blender in sight.

classic daiquiri with lime wheel

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces white rum
  • 1 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
  • ½ ounce simple syrup
  • Ice
  • Lime wheel for garnish

Instructions

  1. Chill a martini glass or coupe.
  2. In a cocktail shaker, add ice, rum, lime juice, and simple syrup.
  3. Shake to chill.
  4. Strain into chilled glass.
  5. Garnish with lime wheel.

White Lady

The white lady cocktail was created in London in the 1930s. It's a classic combination of gin, citrus, and egg white that's sweet, sour, and frothy.

white lady cocktail

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces London dry gin
  • ½ ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ½ ounce orange liqueur
  • 1 egg white
  • Ice
  • Lemon slice for garnish

Instructions

  1. Chill a martini glass or coupe.
  2. In a cocktail shaker, add gin, lemon juice, orange liqueur, and egg white.
  3. Dry shake for approximately 45 seconds to mix ingredients and create a froth.
  4. Add ice to shaker.
  5. Shake to chill.
  6. Strain into chilled glass.
  7. Garnish with lemon slice.

Americano

It's a bittersweet blend of Campari and vermouth with a gorgeous sunset color thanks to the blend of the vibrant red-orange Campari and red sweet vermouth.

Americano classic cocktail

Ingredients

  • 1½ ounces Campari
  • 1½ ounces sweet vermouth
  • Ice
  • Club soda to top off
  • Orange slice for garnish

Instructions

  1. In a highball glass, add ice, Campari, and sweet vermouth.
  2. Stir to mix.
  3. Top off with club soda.
  4. Garnish with orange slice.

Old-Fashioned

Few cocktails are more legendary than the old-fashioned. With the help of pop culture and its own delicious allure, the old-fashioned has solidified its place in history.

old fashioned classic cocktail

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces bourbon
  • ¾ ounce simple syrup
  • 2 dashes orange bitters
  • 3-5 dashes Angostura bitters
  • Ice
  • Orange peel for garnish

Instructions

  1. In a mixing glass, add ice, bourbon, simple syrup, and bitters.
  2. Stir rapidly to chill.
  3. Strain into rocks glass over fresh ice.
  4. Garnish with orange peel, first expressing over the glass and along rim before discarding in drink.

Sazerac

The Sazerac is one of America's original cocktails, created in New Orleans before spreading like wildfire to bars worldwide.

sazerac classic cocktail

Ingredients

  • ¼ ounce absinthe
  • Sugar cube
  • ¼ ounce water
  • 1½ ounces rye
  • 1 ounce Cognac
  • 3 dashes Peychaud's bitters
  • 1-2 dashes Angostura bitters
  • Ice
  • Lemon ribbon for garnish

Instructions

  1. In a rocks glass, add absinthe, swirling to coat the inside of the glass. Discard excess.
  2. In a mixing glass, muddle sugar cube, water, and bitters.
  3. Add ice, rye, and Cognac.
  4. Stir rapidly to chill.
  5. Strain into prepared glass.
  6. Garnish with lemon ribbon.

Mint Julep

The mint julep is a classically southern cocktail and a variation on the whiskey smash. It's most closely associated with the Kentucky Derby.

mint julep classic cocktail

Ingredients

  • 8-10 fresh mint leaves
  • ¼ ounce simple syrup
  • 2 ounces bourbon
  • Crushed ice
  • Mint sprig for garnish

Instructions

  1. In a rocks glass or tin cup, muddle mint leaves and simple syrup.
  2. Add crushed ice and bourbon.
  3. Stir to chill and frost glass.
  4. Garnish with mint sprig.

Classic Margarita

Like the daiquiri, the classic margarita has spawned multiple spinoffs in a wide variety of flavors. While margaritas are often frozen and blended, the classic is a simple tequila sour.

classic margarita cocktail

Ingredients

  • Lime wedge and salt for rim
  • 2 ounces silver tequila
  • ¾ ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
  • ½ ounce orange liqueur
  • ½ ounce agave syrup
  • Ice
  • Lime wheel for garnish

Instructions

  1. To prepare rim, rub the rim of the glass with the lime wedge.
  2. With the salt on a saucer, dip either half or the entire rim of the glass in the salt to coat.
  3. In a cocktail shaker, add ice, tequila, lime juice, orange liqueur, and agave.
  4. Shake to chill.
  5. Strain into prepared glass.
  6. Garnish with lime wheel.

Bloody Mary

The bloody Mary has only gotten more deluxe and decorative over the years, and the bloody Mary has remained a staple whether you go classic or dream big.

bloody mary classic cocktail

Ingredients

  • Lime wedge and celery salt for rim
  • 2½ ounces vodka
  • 4 ounces tomato juice
  • ¾ ounce pickle juice
  • ½ ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ¼ ounce horseradish
  • 2 dashes Worcestershire
  • 2 dashes salt, pepper, and paprika
  • Ice
  • Olive, pickle, lime wedge, and celery stalk for garnish

Instructions

  1. To prepare rim, rub the rim of the glass with the lime wedge.
  2. With the celery salt on a saucer, dip either half or the entire rim of the glass in the celery salt to coat.
  3. Add ice, vodka, tomato juice, pickle juice, lemon juice, horseradish, Worcestershire, and seasoning in a cocktail shaker.
  4. Shake to chill.
  5. Strain into prepared glass.
  6. Garnish with olive, pickle, lime wedge, and celery stalk.

Manhattan

As famous as the borough itself, the Manhattan continues to shine through the years.

manhattan classic cocktail

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces rye
  • 1 ounce sweet vermouth
  • 1-2 dashes orange bitters
  • 2-3 dashes Angostura bitters
  • Ice
  • Cherry for garnish

Instructions

  1. Chill a martini glass or coupe.
  2. In a mixing glass, add ice, rye, sweet vermouth, and bitters.
  3. Stir rapidly to chill.
  4. Strain into chilled glass.
  5. Garnish with cherry.

Martini

There's no arguing that the classic martini has more than withstood the test of time. How you like your martini is primarily a matter of personal taste, but there's no wrong way. There's also the dirty martini and Vesper to bolster your martini experience.

classic martini cocktail with olives

Ingredients

  • 2½ ounces gin
  • ½ ounce dry vermouth
  • Ice
  • Olives for garnish

Instructions

  1. Chill a martini glass or coupe.
  2. In a mixing glass, add ice, gin, and dry vermouth.
  3. Stir rapidly to chill.
  4. Strain into chilled glass.
  5. Garnish with olives.

Negroni

The Negroni cocktail is a bittersweet cocktail with a lovely balance of bitter, sweet, and aromatic, making it a cocktail to savor.

negroni classic cocktail

Ingredients

  • 1 ounce gin
  • 1 ounce Campari
  • 1 ounce sweet vermouth
  • Ice
  • Orange peel for garnish

Instructions

  1. In a mixing glass, add ice, gin, Campari, and sweet vermouth.
  2. Stir rapidly to chill.
  3. Strain into rocks glass over fresh ice.
  4. Garnish with orange peel.

Boulevardier

The Negroni variation is a harmonious combination of strong, sweet, and bitter.

Boulevardier classic cocktail

Ingredients

  • 1¼ ounces rye
  • 1 ounce sweet vermouth
  • 1 ounce Campari
  • Ice
  • Orange slice for garnish

Instructions

  1. In a mixing glass, add ice, rye, sweet vermouth, and Campari.
  2. Stir rapidly to chill.
  3. Strain into rocks glass over fresh ice.
  4. Garnish with orange wheel.

Sidecar

The sidecar cocktail is a classic Cognac cocktail with a sweetened rim to bring all the flavors home.

classic sidecar cocktail

Ingredients

  • Lemon wedge and sugar for rim
  • 1½ ounces Cognac
  • ¾ ounce orange liqueur
  • ½ ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • Ice
  • Orange twist for garnish

Instructions

  1. Chill a martini glass or coupe.
  2. To prepare rim, rub the rim of the martini glass or coupe with the lemon wedge.
  3. With the sugar on a saucer, dip either half or the entire rim of the glass in the sugar to coat.
  4. In a cocktail shaker, add ice, Cognac, orange liqueur, and lemon juice.
  5. Shake to chill.
  6. Strain into prepared glass.
  7. Garnish with orange twist.

Mojito

Although this cocktail is most often associated with warm weather, it's great year-round, as its popularity proves.

classic mojito cocktail

Ingredients

  • 3-5 fresh mint leaves
  • ½ ounce simple syrup
  • 2 ounces white rum
  • ¾ ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
  • Ice
  • Club soda to top off
  • Mint sprig for garnish

Instructions

  1. In a cocktail shaker, muddle mint leaves and simple syrup.
  2. Add ice, rum, and lime juice.
  3. Shake to chill.
  4. Strain into highball glass over fresh ice.
  5. Top off with club soda.
  6. Garnish with mint sprig.

Whiskey Sour

The whiskey sour is a quintessential sour cocktail. You can swap the spirit for vodka, gin, or amaretto if whiskey isn't your cup of tea.

classic whiskey sour cocktail

Ingredients

  • 2½ ounces bourbon
  • ¾ ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ¼ ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
  • ½ ounce simple syrup
  • 1 egg white
  • Ice
  • Orange slice and cherry for garnish

Instructions

  1. In a cocktail shaker, add bourbon, lemon juice, lime juice, simple syrup, and egg white.
  2. Dry shake for approximately 45 seconds to mix ingredients and create a froth.
  3. Add ice to shaker.
  4. Shake to chill.
  5. Strain into rocks glass over fresh ice.
  6. Garnish with orange slice and cherry.

Mai Tai

The mai tai has been rattling around cocktail shakers since the 1940s, making its way from California to bars everywhere.

classic mai tai cocktail

Ingredients

  • 1½ ounces white rum
  • ¾ ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
  • ½ ounce orange curaçao
  • ½ ounce orgeat or almond syrup
  • Ice
  • ½ ounce dark rum
  • Lemon slice and cherry for garnish

Instructions

  1. In a cocktail shaker, add ice, white rum, lime juice, orange curaçao, and orgeat.
  2. Shake to chill.
  3. Strain into rocks glass over fresh ice.
  4. Slowly pour dark rum, floating on top.
  5. Garnish with lemon slice and cherry.

Gimlet

A puckeringly sour lime cocktail, it's a happy medium between a classic martini and the sour. Gimlets can be made with vodka or London dry gin, so it's an easy drink to change for taste. The gin version is more aromatic with juniper notes, while the vodka gimlet allows the sweet and sour lime flavor to shine.

classic gimlet cocktail

Ingredients

  • 2½ ounces gin or vodka
  • ¾ ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
  • ½ ounce simple syrup
  • Ice
  • Lime wedge for garnish

Instructions

  1. In a cocktail shaker, add ice, gin, lime juice, and simple syrup.
  2. Shake to chill.
  3. Strain into rocks glass over fresh ice.
  4. Garnish with lime wedge.

Vieux Carre

A sweet yet botanical cocktail that is hard to forget.

Vieux Carre cocktail

Ingredients

  • 1 ounce rye
  • ¾ ounce Cognac
  • ¾ ounce sweet vermouth
  • ¼ ounce Bénédictine liqueur
  • 3 dashes aromatic bitters
  • Ice
  • Lemon twist for garnish

Instructions

  1. In a mixing glass, add ice, rye, Cognac, sweet vermouth, Bénédictine, and bitters.
  2. Stir rapidly to chill.
  3. Strain in a rocks glass over fresh ice.
  4. Garnish with lemon twist.

Rum Flip

Although egg whites are the star of eggs in cocktails, a flip calls for the entire egg. The result is a creamy and luxurious cocktail unlike any other.

rum flip cocktail

Ingredients

  • 1½ ounces dark rum
  • ½ ounce heavy cream
  • ¼ ounce simple syrup
  • 1 whole egg
  • Ice
  • Ground nutmeg for garnish

Instructions

  1. Chill a martini glass or coupe.
  2. In a cocktail shaker, add dark rum, heavy cream, simple syrup, and egg.
  3. Dry shake for approximately 45 seconds to mix ingredients and create a froth.
  4. Add ice to shaker.
  5. Shake to chill.
  6. Strain into chilled glass.
  7. Garnish with ground nutmeg.

Tom Collins

The Tom Collins is the grown-up version of a simple gin and tonic, with those extra flavors taking a fizzy gin drink from average to extraordinary.

tom collins classic cocktail

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces gin
  • ¾ ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ¼ ounce simple syrup, to taste
  • Ice
  • Club soda to top off
  • Lemon slice and cocktail cherry for garnish

Instructions

  1. In a highball glass, add ice, gin, lemon juice, and simple syrup.
  2. Stir to mix.
  3. Top off with club soda.
  4. Garnish with lemon slice and cocktail cherry.

Cosmopolitan

This fruit juice martini is arguably the most famous of the martini riffs, its tart yet slightly sweet profile a hit for decades.

classic cosmo cocktail

Ingredients

  • 1¾ ounces citron vodka
  • ¾ ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
  • ¾ ounce cranberry juice
  • ½ ounce orange liqueur
  • Ice
  • Lime wedge for garnish

Instructions

  1. Chill a martini glass or coupe.
  2. In a cocktail shaker, add ice, vodka, lime juice, cranberry juice, and orange liqueur.
  3. Shake to chill.
  4. Strain into chilled glass.
  5. Garnish with lime wedge, if desired.

Aperol Spritz

Most notably a cocktail for before dinner or as an early afternoon treat, it's a classic cocktail well worth sipping.

classic aperol spritz cocktail

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces Aperol
  • 4 ounces prosecco
  • Ice
  • 1½ ounces club soda
  • Orange wedge for garnish

Instructions

  1. In a wine glass, add ice, Aperol, and prosecco.
  2. Stir to mix.
  3. Add club soda.
  4. Garnish with orange wedge.

Classic Cocktails for Every Season

Enjoying classic cocktails shouldn't be a headache, nor should finding a classic cocktail recipe. The easiest way to pick a place to start could be simpling picking a favorite spirit or even glassware; there's no wrong way to choose a classic cocktail to enjoy.

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25 Classic Cocktails You Must Try At Least Once