These simple cocktails are great to know as a beginner list. All of the ones on this list are versatile and easy to change for the better!
Mimosas are literally just champagne and orange juice. As a popular brunch drink, it does not need anything extra. It can be a wedding drink or a fancy drink at a restaurant. You can only make this drink better, like the one pictured below, by adding flavors to it. Strawberry and passion fruit are two popular ones, as well as cranberry and pineapple. Fill 1/3 of the flute with the juice of your chosen juice and fill with champagne. Some people do half and half, but that depends on your taste. If staying traditional, there is no need for a garnish, but a cherry is sometimes a popular choice.
Some people call this a bartender’s worst drink to make, but it all depends on your process. It requires a bit of pre-planning unless you always have mint in your fridge. You first muddle mint and simple syrup (dissolved water and sugar) in a shaker. Pour 2 oz of rum and ice and shake. Strain over some fresh ice and fill with club soda. Garnish with mint and a lime wheel and you’re all done! When I’m feeling lazy, I muddle mint leaves and a lime wheel or two with simple syrup and rum, then top with ice and club soda or sprite if I don’t have simple syrup. You can also upgrade this by muddling simple fruit like strawberries or blackberries.
Margaritas are always a great restaurant drink, no matter what you eat with it. This is one of the many favorable simple cocktails because it is so customizable. First, start by rimming your glass with salt or sugar. This is optional but gives the margarita a more original feel. In your shaker, add an ounce and a half of tequila, an ounce of orange liqueur, juice of one lime, and some simple syrup. Shake and pour over fresh ice. You can also make sour mix beforehand if you want to do a pitcher or store some aside for other sour drinks. That is 1 1/2 cups of lime juice with half a cup of sugar and water. This could be altered to make it more or less sour. Garnish with a lime!
Sangria is another brunch drink that is so easy to recreate. It is another changeable drink. A sangria is usually done in a pitcher, so the recipe varies. I usually put 1 whole bottle of wine (opt for a sweet red or white), 1 cup of rum, half a cup of peach schnapps or orange liqueur, and various cut fruit. This is where you can have a bit of fun planning it, for you can make it a tropical sangria and get pineapple or make a more traditional one with oranges and strawberries. You can even make a sangria with white wine and sweet tea with muddled peaches, cause why not! Try for half a cup of each fruit. Some people like to let the fruit sit in some rum the day before or muddle it. This all depends on you!
5. Jungle Juice
Jungle juice is basically the party sangria. It is made in large containers and a lot stronger than a sangria. This is one of the college party essentials, especially when you can get strong liquor. There is no true recipe, some call it leftover juice, but it is a method to the madness. If using a big container, go for similar liquors, so 1 bottle of vodka and light rum. Use a bottle of liqueur that matches your fruits, so if you use an apple liqueur, use various apples, or oranges for orange liqueur. After adding other various fruits, add juices like fruit punch and pineapple. Try to make sure you have a little more juice than your alcohol, so in this case, you want 3 bottles of juice (count liqueurs as half a bottle). For a pitcher, use one cup of each. Jungle juice can easily be ruined by too many different flavors, so try to match them as best as you can. Drink safely!
6. Spiked Lemonade
Spiked lemonade is probably the simplest drink on this list. It is just your favorite spirit with your lemonade or iced tea. That’s all! I recommend having lemonade ice cubes premade to prevent this drink from watering down. That’s the only downside, since lemonade is not a strong flavor unless you especially make it. To make this a very fresh, summer drink, muddle some strawberries and limes in the lemonade. There are so many ways to improve this drink, just grab your favorite fruit and mix! Use 2 oz of your favorite spirit in each glass or a cup and a half in a pitcher.
7. Whiskey Sour
Another simple drink with minimal effort. While the traditional recipe requires egg white, it is totally not necessary. Like a lot of other simple sour drinks, this two-ingredient recipe is easy to make. I start with 2 oz of whiskey and about 4 oz of sour mix. Shake vigorously to create a foamy top, and garnish with cherries. For the whiskey lovers, there are a lot more variations in which I’ve seen a recipe for a cinnamon maple whiskey sour. If whiskey isn’t your thing, vodka sour is a popular alternative and if you love aromatic liqueur, try an amaretto sour. You can’t go wrong when it’s this simple!
8. Long Island Iced Tea
Chances are, you’ve never had this drink, you hate this drink, or it’s your absolute go-to at a bar. Long Island iced teas are… complicated because they are too strong for some or not at all for others. This recipe includes an ounce of four spirits: vodka, white rum, tequila, and gin. It is also an ounce of triple sec, sour mix, and a topping of coke. This is the way I do it at least, but some people also add simple syrup and fresh lime juice instead. Either way, it will be the strongest drink you will experience at a bar. I usually tell first-timers to go for the Blue Long Island, for it is a little sweeter and prettier for sure. Replace the triple sec with blue curacao and the coke for sprite. Enjoy!
Daiquiris are very versatile and it is mostly known as a frozen drink. Its original state is straight up with no ice, and consists of 2 oz of rum, 1 oz of fresh lime juice, and 3/4 oz of simple syrup. Garnished with a lime twist, and it’s all done! The frozen kind has a bit more steps. To a blender, add 1 1/2 cups of rum, half a cup of lime juice, 1/4 cup of simple syrup (if you want this sweeter), half a cup of frozen strawberries, and a cup of ice. Add more or less strawberries depending on your taste and consistency. Split that up, garnish with a strawberry or lime, and serve immediately. The best summer drink, if you ask me!
If you are feeling classy, martinis are very easy to make. Try for a flavored martini, like a cosmopolitan or espresso martini like the one below if straight liquor isn’t your thing. To make a classic, in a shaker, pour 2 1/2 oz of gin, half an ounce of dry vermouth, a dash of bitters, and some ice. Stir until it gets cold and strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with a lemon twist and it is done! A vodka martini is also popular and, while a small amount, some people swirl the vermouth in the glass and pour it out. It sometimes helps, for the vermouth can be too strongly scented for some.
11. Rum & Coke
Rum and coke is one of the great simple cocktails because it is only two ingredients! There are many call drinks like this, in which the drink is what it is commonly called. The standard is 2 oz of rum and fill with coke, but some make it stronger. Other popular call drinks: cranberry and vodka, vodka and soda, Jack (Daniels) and coke, vodka, and orange juice. Sometimes you just need a simple drink.
12. Old Fashioned
This is another one of the simple cocktails that require a few more steps. An old-fashioned is for the whiskey and brandy lovers. It is a strong drink for some, for there is not a lot added to it. There have been plenty of modern twists, in which people have added juice, but it takes away from the classic recipe. It is a bitter drink, so it may not be for everyone. To make the traditional version, muddle 2 orange slices, 2 maraschino cherries, a sugar cube or half a teaspoon, and 3 dashes of bitters in the glass. Then fill with ice and add 2 oz of brandy or whiskey. Top with sprite or club soda and garnish with a skewered cherry and orange slice. I add simple syrup or more sugar and stir until it dissolves if I don’t want it as strong. It’s still nice to know this drink to impress your friends!
Which of these simple cocktails will you try? Don’t forget to put your own spin on them! Comment below!
Featured Image Source: https://www.instagram.com/p/B_zl0_qjENJ/
Hi! I'm Lucely, an aspiring editor and avid reader, completing my master's in publishing at Pace University. I was born and raised in the South Bronx and hope to travel the world soon. I will eventually get back to writing poetry and short stories when I graduate in the spring.