Cocktails aren’t mixed drinks although it may seem that way. Instead, cocktails are relatively simple with just a few ingredients and easy to make, as well as more refined than mixed drinks. These also require a certain amount of skill in making aside from the essential tools like the shaker and cocktail glass.
Here, we only included cocktails in the strictest sense of the word. We didn’t include vodka-infused cocktails for a reason – most, if not all, of these beginner-friendly cocktails were made in the 1930s and 1940s when vodka wasn’t as widely available as it is now. There are no Moscow mule and white Russian cocktails here for this reason. Instead, the base liquors for these cocktails are brandy, rum, gin, and whiskey so get your bottle of Bacardi rum ready!
Named after the chic Manhattan neighborhood of New York City, the Manhattan is a whiskey-based cocktail with an enduring appeal so much so that even your grandmother may have enjoyed it in her prime. Its’ easy to make, too, even for a beginner with a basic home bar so it’s a great way to start with your cocktail education.
Traditionally, the Manhattan was made of rye whiskey. But over the years, it has been replaced by Canadian whisky and bourbon, among other types of whisky, partly because rye whiskey fell out of favor and production for most of the 20th century. Fortunately, rye whiskey has experienced a resurgence so you may be able to get a taste of the original.
Fancy – it’s the first word that comes to mind when beginners think of martini regardless of its type. But if you’re looking for the best martini, you’re better off with the original – dry martini.
There are only two main ingredients in the true dry martini – gin and dry vermouth – a combination that’s both refreshing and intoxicating on many levels. Be sure to add a dash of bitters as well as a garnish, either a lemon twist or an olive. We personally prefer an olive because it complements the dry martini.
When it comes to refreshing cocktails, a mojito ranks high on our list. It’s a cocktail primarily made of rum and, thus, it has many similarities in taste and feel with mint julep.
You can always put your own spin to the classic mojito but there should always be muddled lime and mint in it. Drink it on a hot summer’s day and feel like you’re on a vacation.
The best thing about the old-fashioned is that it can be made with your preferred whiskey. You can even experiment with the fruits and spirits that you add to it for as long as the basic formula is followed.
And be sure to follow the process because it’s often more important than the ingredients used. Learn the art of muddling as it’s the most important technique in the old-fashioned making process.
Like the dry martini, the margarita is a staple cocktail in bars because of its refined taste. The traditional margarita is simple with just triple sec, tequila, and lime juice being the main ingredients. But cocktails being open to interpretation, the modern margarita now comes in several flavors and colors so there’s always one that will suit your mood.
The margarita is usually seen as a drink for the ladies, an understandable perception because of its slightly sweet yet tangy mouth-feel. But even a man can enjoy it for, after all, cocktails are universal.
Known as the favorite drink in the Kentucky Derby, the most prestigious horseracing event in the world, the mint julep is among the best-loved bourbon cocktails. Aside from the bourbon, it requires a simple syrup and mint, which has been muddled to get its essence.
Did you know that the mint julep is considered as among the oldest, if not the oldest, cocktails in the United States? According to David Wondrich, a cocktail historian, traced its origins to the American Revolution. Just imagine: Your ancestors have been enjoying mint julep even before you took a first taste of it!
Yet another cocktail with a long history is the brandy cocktail, which was mentioned as far back as 1806 in The Balance and Columbian Repository. It was described as a stimulation liquor with spirits as well as water, sugar and butters; the spirits can be of any kind so it’s a versatile drink, too. The spirit can either be gin, brandy, or whiskey.
Regardless of which cocktail you want, you have to remember that drinking in moderation is a must. Every alcoholic beverage has an effect on your body and the more you drink of it, the more you will experience the adverse effects. Limit your cocktail to one glass or serving a day since excessive alcohol consumption has adverse effects in the long-term period.