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13 Essential Cocktail Recipes

Posted by Joseph Hakim on

We came up with a universal guide for mixologists of all levels.

Whether you’re just starting out and need some guidance or you’re a seasoned pro just looking for ideas to change up some of the basics, this guide is our take on some of time’s most popular cocktails.

Feel free to change up the ratios or add/delete things, everyone has a different taste!

We recommend printing out this guide and keeping it in your bar area so you’re always ready to go! Click here to download the PDF.

Scroll through the recipes and let us know what you liked, what you didn’t like, if you want us to add anything, we got you!

Now let’s get started…


Old Fashioned


For a proper Old Fashioned, you’ll need…

Muddle the sugar, splash of water and bitters together in an Old Fashioned glass.

Add whiskey stones or a large ice ball – please, please, please try not to use traditional ice cubes.

Pour the bourbon - or rye whiskey if you prefer - and stir.

And garnish with an orange peel.





The original, classic Martini calls for a mixture of…

Add ice to a mixing glass and toss in the ingredients. 

With a bar spoon, stir (never shake!) and strain the mixture into a well-chilled martini glass.

Garnish with a lemon twist or olives – we’re olive fans :) 

Note: The Martini is way more flexible than you might think so try changing the ratios to your taste!




In a cocktail shaker, add…

Shake, shake, shake until the shaker is ice cold to the touch.

Place a maraschino cherry in a chilled cocktail glass.

Strain the content from the shaker over the cherry.

Serve immediately and enjoy!




Combine the following ingredients into a cocktail shaker…

Partly fill cocktail shaker with ice. 

Add and stir ingredients until well chilled.

Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Add an orange peel or lemon twist for garnish.





This is the Daiquiri at its purest...

  • ¾ oz of simple syrup
  • ¾ oz of fresh-squeezed lime juice (about half a lime)
  • 2 oz of light rum - can't go wrong with Bacardi

Add the simple syrup and lime juice into a cocktail shaker and stir together with your bar spoon.

Add the rum and fill the shaker with ice.

Shake well and double strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Garnish with a lime wedge.




Run a lime wedge around the outer rim of your glass and dip rims in salt. Set aside – we’ll come back to this.

In a cocktail shaker, combine…

  • 1½ oz of high quality blanco tequila - we like Don Julio
  • ¾ oz of Cointreau
  • ½ oz of agave
  • ½ oz fresh lime juice (from half a lime)

Fill with ice and shake until thoroughly cold.

Fill glass with fresh ice and strain margarita into the glass.

Garnish with lime wheel and serve.

Note: This recipe works best with good quality tequila as it eliminates the need for sugar.




Combine the following ingredients in a cocktail shaker… 

Add ice and shake well until chilled.

Strain into prepared glass.

Garnish with a twist of orange or lemon peel.

Optional: Prepare cocktail glass by cutting a slit in a lemon wedge and running it around the rim of the glass. Dip the rim in superfine sugar to create a thin crust. Chill the glass.


Bloody Mary


Rub a lemon wedge around the rim of a 12 oz tumbler. Dip the rim in celery salt (or plain kosher salt). Fill glass with ice.

To the bottom of a cocktail shaker, add…

  • ½ teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce
  • ¼ teaspoon of soy sauce
  • ½ teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper, to taste
  • Dash of cayenne pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon of hot sauce (such as Tabasco or Frank’s)
  • ½ teaspoon of freshly grated horseradish

Fill the shaker with ice and add 2 oz of vodka (we recommend Chopin), 4 oz of high-quality tomato juice and juice of remaining lemon wedge.

Shake vigorously and strain into glass.

Garnish with celery, olives, bacon, cheeseburger or anything else you’d like!


Irish Coffee


Start with whipping heavy cream until thick, but not stiff.

In a pre-warmed sturdy mug or glass, combine…

  • 1½ - 2 oz of Irish whiskey - can't go wrong with Jameson
  • 4 oz of fresh brewed coffee
  • ½ - 1 oz of simple syrup (or brown sugar), to taste

Stir it all together.

Gently spoon ½ inch to 1 inch of cream to top off the coffee mixture, to taste. 

Note: Irish Coffee can be pretty flexible depending if you’d like it more rich, sweet, etc. Play around with the measurements and adjust according to taste!


Moscow Mule


Fill a copper mug with ice.

Add the following ingredients…

  • 2 oz of vodka (Tito’s is our fave for this drink)
  • 4 oz of ginger beer (Bundaberg is the best unless you can find a good local one)
  • ¾ oz of fresh squeezed lime juice

Stir contents together.

Add lime wedge and 2-3 fresh mint sprigs as a garnish.

Note: Vodka can be replaced with Bourbon, Irish Whiskey or Tequila to make a Kentucky Mule, Irish Mule or Mexican Mule, respectively.


Whiskey Sour


Our favorite drink in this guide calls for…

  • 2 oz of whiskey - for a classic taste we recommend Basil Haydens Bourbon
  • ¾ oz of fresh squeezed lemon juice (use 1 lemon)
  • ¾ oz simple syrup or superfine sugar
  • 1 real egg white

Pour the ingredients in a cocktail shaker and dry shake – meaning no ice – for a good 10-15 seconds. 

Add the ice and shake for another 10-15 seconds.

Double strain the mixture into a chilled cocktail glass.

We like to garnish with Angostura bitters traced across the frosty top. Get creative and add a cool design!


Mai Tai


Pour the following ingredients into a cocktail shaker… 

  • 1 oz of Gold Rum - we really like Mount Gay Eclipse
  • 1 oz of Dark Rum - Myers's is a good one
  • ½ oz of Curacao
  • ¼ oz of Orgeat
  • ½ oz of lime juice (about 1 lime, save shell for garnish)

Fill shaker with ice and shake well.

Strain into an ice-filled double old-fashioned glass.

Garnish with lime wedge, fresh mint, pineapple or whatever you want! Add the umbrella for the full experience.



Last but not least, we got the Cosmo.

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice and add…

  • 1½ oz of citrus-flavored vodka
  • ½ oz of triple sec (we prefer Cointreau)
  • ½ oz of cranberry juice
  • ¼ oz of fresh-squeezed lime juice (don’t use Rose’s!)

Shake well and strain into a chilled martini glass.

Garnish with orange slice or orange twist.


And that's a wrap...

We hope you enjoyed our recipes for the 13 essential cocktails as much as we enjoyed putting it together for you!

Remember to shake the cocktails well. Generally, 10-15 shakes is perfect since you don’t want to overly crush the ice and dilute the drink.

If you have any questions or feedback, please contact us here.. We’d love to hear from you!

And if you need any barware, our good friends over at Everything Bar Carts can help you out


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  • Thanks, Joseph! I’m excited to try some of these recipes!!

    Sarah S. on

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