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Basic Cocktail Recipes

Updated on October 14, 2014
CuAllaidh profile image

Jeff Johnston is a medieval reenactor and avid history fan. He is also the publisher at Living History Publications.

Cocktails are fun to make and a pleasure to drink
Cocktails are fun to make and a pleasure to drink
4 stars from 1 rating of Classic Cocktails

Mixing the Perfect Beverage

You may have read my ongoing encyclopedia of alcohol I call the Boozopedia, or maybe you have read my tirade on the purity of the Martini, or perhaps you've noticed my mead articles, but in short I'm becoming known as someone who enjoys imbibing a good drink from time to time. Because of this I have collected some basic cocktail recipes that many people forget about and don't bother with when entertaining.

Cocktails need not be something you only enjoy when out at a club. Making them at home while entertaining can impress your guests and give you a nice sense of accomplishment.

Lime Margarita
Lime Margarita

The Perfect Margarita

The Margarita is a classic summer drink. Nice and refreshing.

The recipe is for the classic neat style, however if you would prefer frozen just put the ingredients in a blender and use the ice crushing or pulse settings and blend it until the ice is down to small pieces.


  • 1 1/2 ounces of a quality tequila
  • 1/2 ounce triple sec
  • 1 ounce fresh lime juice
  • Lime slice for garnish
  • Salt to rim the glass


  1. Rim a chilled Margarita glass in salt
  2. Put all other ingredients (except the lime slice) in a cocktail shaker and shake well
  3. Pour into Margarita glass and garnish with a lime slice
Hot Buttered Rum
Hot Buttered Rum

Hot Buttered Rum

Hot buttered rum is a classic winter cocktail perfect for a nice romantic drink by the fire.


  • 1/2 tbsp of soft butter
  • 1 tsp brown sugar
  • Spices to taste: ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg, allspice
  • Vanilla extract
  • 2 ounces dark rum
  • Hot water


  1. Place sugar, butter, and spices in the bottom of a mug and muddle
  2. Pour in hot water
  3. Add rum
Caesar | Source

The Caesar

This is a truly Canadian drink, it was invented in Calgary Alberta in 1969 and has become an instant classic. Similar to a Bloody Mary, but with a kick.


  • 1 1/4 oz Vodka
  • Dash of Worcestershire Sauce
  • Dash of Tabasco Sauce
  • Clamato Juice
  • Salt and Peper
  • Celery Stalk
  • Celery Salt


  1. Rim a highball glass with celery salt
  2. Add Ice
  3. Add salt and pepper
  4. Add worcestershire and tobasco sauces.
  5. Add Vodka
  6. Top up highball with clamato juice
  7. garnish with celery stalk
The Martini
The Martini

The Classic Martini

The martini is a classic drink some mistakingly call all cocktails served in the iconic "martini glass" a form of martini, this is not true as I discuss in my article on the Classic Martini.


  • 3 Parts Gin
  • 1 Part Dry Vermouth
  • 1 Olive

Martinis in Books


  1. Martini Stirred: Fill a lowball glass up with crushed or cubed ice, put olive in the glass, Pour gin and vermouth into the glass, Stir and serve
  2. Martini Shaken: Fill a cocktail shaker up with ice, Pour gin and vermouth into the shaker, Put strainer and lid on the shaker and shake well, Put olive in the bottom of a cocktail glass, Leaving the strainer in place pour the liquid into the cocktail glass and serve
  3. Dirty Martini: If you wish to "dirty it up" add a splash of the brine from the olives to the mix.
  4. Vodka Martini: Replace gin with Vodka and you have a Vodka Martini
  5. Sweet Martini: Cut gin to one part, and replace dry vermouth with sweet vermouth
Libbey Vina Martini Glass, Set of 6
Libbey Vina Martini Glass, Set of 6

These are always mislabeled as martini glasses. More accurate name is Cocktail Glass. More than a martini is properly served in a cocktail glass.

The Perfect Rye Manhattan
The Perfect Rye Manhattan | Source

Rye Manhattan

  • 1/4 cup rye whiskey
  • 2 tablespoons sweet vermouth
  • 2 dashes bitters
  • 1 maraschino cherry


  1. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice cubes.
  2. Pour in the whiskey, vermouth and bitters.
  3. Shake until frosty, about 15 seconds
  4. Strain into a Manhattan glass and garnish with a maraschino cherry
Tequila Sunrise
Tequila Sunrise

Tequila Sunrise

The Tequila Sunrise is one of the most visually stunning cocktails you'll make. And yet its surprisingly easy to make.


  • 2 shots tequila
  • orange juice
  • 2 dashes grenadine syrup


  1. Pour tequila in a highball glass with ice
  2. Top with orange juice. Stir.
  3. Add grenadine by tilting glass and pouring grenadine down side by flipping the bottle vertically very quickly. The grenadine should go straight to the bottom and then rise up slowly through the drink.
  4. Garnish stirrer, straw and cherry-orange.
Harvey Wallbanger
Harvey Wallbanger | Source

The Harvey Wallbanger

This is a classic cocktail with a legendary story about how the drink was named. Apparently at a party the host concocted the beverage and fed it to the attendees. After a while a guest named "Harvey" was found at a wall banging his head on a wall, and thus the drink became known as the harvey wallbanger. The truth of this story cannot be verified, but its an interesting tidbit none the less.


  • 3/4 oz vodka
  • 1 1/2 oz orange juice
  • 1/4 oz Galliano
  • orange slice for garnish
  • maraschino cherry for garnish


  1. Pour the vodka and orange juice into a collins glass with ice cubes.
  2. Add the Galliano.
  3. Garnish with the orange slice and maraschino cherry.
Tom Collins
Tom Collins | Source

Tom Collins

A Collins is a classic sour cocktail that almost no one knows how to make anymore. I highly recommend you try this out sometime though, if you like sour you'll love a Tom Collins.


  • 1 1/2 oz gin
  • 1 oz lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz sugar syrup
  • club soda
  • maraschino cherry
  • lemon slice


  1. Pour the gin, lemon juice, and sugar syrup in a collins glass with ice cubes.
  2. Stir thoroughly.
  3. Top with club soda.
  4. Garnish with the cherry and orange slice.
Grasshopper | Source


This is another visually stunning drink that will impress your guests. Most people don't realize how stunningly simple this drink is to pull off.


  • 3/4 oz green creme de menthe
  • 3/4 oz white creme de cacao
  • 3/4 oz light cream


  1. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice
  2. Put all ingredients into shaker
  3. Shake well
  4. Strain into a cocktail glass
Mojito | Source


Lime, mint and rum, what could go wrong with this classic?

The trick to a good mojito is in the muddling. Which is basically pressing the mint lime and sugar together. Muddle proper and you'll extract the essential oils in the lime and mint, muddle to roughly and you'll extract the bitterness from the leaves and the pith of the lime as well wrecking an otherwise pleasant drink. You want to bruise the fruit and leaves not rip tear or mash them.


  • 4 lime wedges
  • 1 oz fresh lime juice
  • 1 tbsp of sugar
  • 6 -8 fresh mint leaves
  • 2 oz light rum
  • 3 -4oz chilled club soda


  1. in a highball glass put in mint sugar and lime
  2. gently muddle the ingredients until the sugar is disolved
  3. add some ice
  4. add the rum and lime juice
  5. top up with club soda

© 2012 Jeff Johnston

What's Your Favorite Cocktail?

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    • Carpenter76 profile image

      Carpenter76 4 years ago

      Let the summer begin! Hmmm I always have a cocktail with 1/4 baileys, 1/2 icecoffee 1/8 amaretto with lots of crushed icecubes.

    • profile image

      sherioz 5 years ago

      I've always just made myself rum and coke, but I love the idea of making cocktails. Thanks for making it so easy. I can't remember the name of my favourite, but it has gin in it and is pale green in colour and oh so sweet!

    • CuAllaidh profile image

      Jeff Johnston 5 years ago from Alberta Canada

      @anonymous: Rum and coke is a cocktail of sorts, not as complex as some of the ones I've listed but it works.

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      Captain and Coca-cola. Not pepsi, not a store brand, Coke. lol Idk if it qualifies as a cocktail but I certainly am specific about the no non-Coca~Cola part. Garnish optional.