Have you ever wanted to be the James Bond of your friend group?
Sure, nobody can really match the secret agent's fabled knowledge of wine and spirits. I, at least, definitely don't go around making up soon-to-be-famous cocktails on the spot. In fact, I regularly find myself confounded by a fancy cocktail menus, and wishing I had the know how to mix up my own classy alcoholic beverages at home.
That's why I had to compile this master list of 11 classic cocktails. It's got all the legendary cocktails that you can order at a bar without feeling like an idiot. Follow in my footsteps, and pretty soon you'll be serving up Old Fashioneds like your name is Don Draper.
After all, there's no better way to impress your friends (and enemies) than to hand them a freshly mixed cocktail that you shook up yourself.
Speaking of Don Draper, have you ever tried his classic beverage? It's a highly traditional cocktail that's usually garnished with an orange slice, although this is considered by some to over-sweeten an already sweet thing. You can make it with almost any spirit, but rye whisky is the favorite.
HOW TO MAKE AN OLD FASHIONED:
1 sugar cube / loose sugar
3 dashes Angostura bitters
2 ounces rye whisky
Place the sugar cube (or 1/2 teaspoon loose sugar) in an Old-Fashioned glass. Wet it down with 2 or 3 dashes of Angostura bitters and a short splash of water or club soda. Crush the sugar with a wooden muddler, chopstick, strong spoon, lipstick, cartridge case, whatever. Rotate the glass so that the sugar grains and bitters give it a lining. Add a large ice cube. Pour in the rye (or bourbon). Stir until chilled, about 30 seconds. Rub an orange twist around the rim of the glass, drop it in, and serve.
The 1922 Martini is still widely considered to be the drink in its most perfect form: 2 parts London dry gin, one part dry vermouth, ice and a garnish of either a lemon twist or a green olive. Keep an eye out for two variations: the perfect martini is made with equal parts gin and vermouth; the dirty martini (FDR's favorite) contains a splash of olive juice and is garnished with a green olive. There's also a version made with vodka in the place of gin – that's what James Bond ordered.
HOW TO MAKE A MARTINI:
2 ounces gin
1 ounce dry vermouth
Lemon twist, for garnish
Green olive (optional)
Chill Martini glass in the freezer for 10 minutes or more. Measure the gin and vermouth into a mixing glass; add ice and stir for 30 seconds, or until nicely chilled. Strain into the chilled Martini glass (so it's cold, but there's no ice left in the drink). Rub the rim of the Martini glass with a lemon twist; drop it in and serve.
This classic elixir of brandy, lemon juice and orange liqueur got its start in the most fashionable watering holes in London and Paris during the 1920s. Because of the cocktail's simplicity, quality matters when choosing your ingredients. Perfect companion on a brisk fall night, reading a book by the fire.
HOW TO MAKE A SIDECAR:
2 ounces VSOP cognac, armagnac or good California brandy
1 ounce Cointreau
3/4 ounce fresh lemon juice, to taste
superfine sugar, for garnish (optional)
Rub a slitted lemon around the edge of a cocktail glass, then dip it in sugar. Chill for 10 minutes. Combine ingredients in a cocktail shaker and fill with ice. Shake for 10 seconds, then strain into prepared glass. Garnish, if you like, with a lemon or orange twist.
Named after the most famous of the NYC boroughs, a Manhattan is a mix of whiskey, sweet vermouth, and bitters. There are many variations on this bad boy, as its flexibility gives bartenders the opportunity to show off a bit. Rye whiskey is the classic choice, but it's also sometimes made with bourbon or Canadian whisky.
HOW TO MAKE A MANHATTAN:
2 ounces rye whiskey
1 ounces sweet vermouth
2 dashes Angostura bitters
Maraschino cherry, as a garnish
Pour whiskey, sweet vermouth, and bitters into a mixing glass filled with ice. Stir until outside of the glass is very cold to the touch. Place a maraschino cherry in a chilled cocktail glass. Strain the contents of the mixing glass over the cherry, and serve immediately.
Cosmos might be a touch too commonplace to be cool (they're sort of pink and very 90's), but they're still the best vodka sour around. Go easy on the cranberry juice and use a high quality triple sec if you want the real deal.
HOW TO MAKE A COSMOPOLITAN:
1 1/2 ounces vodka
3/4 ounce cranberry juice
1/2 ounce Cointreau or triple sec
1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
Lime slice, for garnishing
Chill a cocktail glass in the freezer for 10 minutes. In a cocktail shaker, combine ingredients and fill halfway with ice. Shake vigorously until outside of shaker is frosted. Strain into chilled glass, and garnish with lime.
This cocktail was popular in the 1920's and 30's, and notably, appears in Hemingway's The Sun Also Rises. It's made with a now largely outmoded spirit known as applejack, which was at one point known as "Jersey Lightning." Until recently, Laird & Company, a New Jersey distillery, was the nation's only producer of applejack.
HOW TO MAKE A JACK ROSE:
1 ounce fresh lemon juice
1/2 ounce grenadine
2 ounces applejack
Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker. Fill with ice and shake vigorously. Strain into a cocktail glass and serve.
The Sazerac, tradtionally a blend of cognac or rye, absinthe, Peychaud's Bitters, and sugar, may be one of America's oldest cocktails. It came out of New Orleans sometime before the Civil War, so named after the cognac usually used as the main ingredient. Since 2008, it has been officially declared New Orleans' official cocktail (did you know places could have official cocktails?)
HOW TO MAKE A SAZERAC:
1 sugar cube
2 1/2 ounces rye whisky
2 dashes Peychaud's bitters
1 dash Angostura bitters (optional)
absinthe (or substitute Absente, or a mix of Pernod and green Chartreuse)
In a mixing glass, muddle a sugar cube (or a teaspoon of loose sugar) with a few drops of water. Add several ice cubes, the rye whiskey, and the two bitters. Coat the inside of a chilled Old Fashioned glass with a few drops of absinthe by tipping it around in your hand. Pour out the excess. Strain the contents of the mixing glass into the Old Fashioned glass, garnish with a lemon twist, and serve.
This is perhaps my favorite cocktail, because it reminds me of all things summer. It's like sparkling gin lemonade. It's a close cousin of the Gin Fizz, which is made by shaking and straining, rather than stirring and serving on the rocks.
HOW TO MAKE A TOM COLLINS
2 ounces London dry gin
1 teaspoon superfine sugar
1/2 ounce lemon juice
Lemon, as a garnish
Fill Collins glass three-quarters full of ice. Add gin, sugar, and lemon juice, and stir briefly. Top with club soda, and serve with a stirring rod, garnished with lemon.
This cocktail plays with the tensions between bitter and sweet, herbal and refreshing. It's an all-weather, all times of year kind of drink, that, since its creation in the 1920s in a hotel in Florence, has survived on sheer deliciousness. It's also notoriously easy to make, thanks to its 1:1:1 which, mind you, is totally open to tinkering.
HOW TO MAKE A NEGRONI:
1 ounce dry gin
1 ounce Campari
1 ounce sweet vermouth
First, decide if you want your Negroni on the rocks or straight up. On the rocks: combine ingredients in an Old Fashioned glass filled with ice and stir. Twist a thin piece of orange peel over the drink for aromatics and use the twist as garnish. Straight up: Combine ingredients in a mixing glass and fill it with ice; stir well for about 20 seconds, and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Twist a piece of orange peel over the drink, and use the twist as garnish.
This is considered the grandfather of the modern-day Martini. Weirdly, the two drinks couldn't be more different. Both use gin and vermouth, but the Martinez opts for equal parts of each, as well as sweet vermouth in place of dry.
HOW TO MAKE A MARTINEZ:
1 1/2 ounce Old Tom gin
1 1/2 ounce sweet vermouth (such as Carpano Antica)
1 teaspoon maraschino liqueur
2 dashes orange bitters
Start by chilling a cocktail glass for about ten minutes in the freezer. In a mixing glass filled with ice, combine gin, sweet vermouth, maraschino liqueur, and orange bitters. Stir until quite cold, then strain into chilled glass. Twist a lemon peel over cocktail, then rub the rim of the glass. Discard peel and serve immediately.