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Top 20 Basic Cocktails to Drink

Starting with classics like the Martini and Mojito, you’ll appreciate the clear flavors and straightforward mix. The Old Fashioned and Margarita showcase the power of minimal ingredients to create something truly refreshing. Enjoy the balance of a Gin and Tonic or the smooth blend of a Whiskey Sour. Each recipe brings out the best in its components, offering a taste that’s both pure and potent. For anyone looking to explore the essentials of cocktail making, this roundup serves as an ideal guide.

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Cosmopolitan cocktail

When it comes to classic cocktails, the Cosmopolitan is a must-try for any cocktail enthusiast. Freshly squeezed lime juice, the zesty sharpness of vodka, and the sweet, fruity flavor of cranberry juice are all combined in one revitalizing beverage. Cointreau, a high-end orange liqueur, is added to the mixture to give it a little kick. The Cosmopolitan is a classic and refreshing cocktail that’s easy to make and always a crowd-pleaser.

White Russian

Bartender finishing a White Russian cocktail

The White Russian is a classic cocktail that drinkers have enjoyed for decades because of its simplicity and excellent flavor. The vodka in this cocktail cuts through the richness of the heavy cream and the coffee liqueur’s robust, slightly bitter flavor. With just a few basic ingredients, you can create a luxurious and indulgent drink that is sure to impress your guests.

Tom Collins

Tom Collins Cocktail

The Tom Collins is a timelessly elegant and refreshing drink that can be prepared in minutes. The gin makes the cocktail taste silky and fragrant, while the freshly squeezed lemon juice makes it taste tart and lively. This drink has a well-balanced and delightful flavor, with each component working together to produce a refreshing and traditional beverage.


classic mojito cocktail on a table in the sun

The mojito, one of the best basic cocktails, is a symphony of refreshing flavors. This drink is the epitome of elegance in its simplest form, with only a few ingredients harmoniously blended to create a complex and satisfying flavor. Mojito is a timeless beverage that never fails to please, whether you’re a seasoned cocktail connoisseur or just starting out.


classic margarita cocktail on a bar in a mexican restaurant

The Margarita is a traditional cocktail with a strong, acidic flavor that is a favorite among drink enthusiasts. This drink has a zesty, tart flavor with a touch of sweetness, and it’s immediately noticeable in the first sip. The touch of sweetness from the agave nectar balances the sourness of the freshly squeezed lime juice. A Margarita is the perfect beverage for a summer day or a night out because of its overall strong, sour, and refreshing flavor.

Old Fashioned

Bourbon Old Fashioned Cocktails

One of the most popular ways to enjoy bourbon is in the Old Fashioned, a traditional drink known for its deep and satisfying flavor. The beverage has a flavor that is powerful and full-bodied, which helps to warm the palate. Each sip delivers a harmony of flavors that include sweet, spicy, and smokey notes.

Moscow Mule

moscow mule

The Moscow Mule is a refreshing and zesty cocktail that is sure to tantalize your taste buds. When you take your first sip of a Moscow Mule, you will immediately notice the spicy and bold taste of the ginger beer. It’s a classic cocktail that has stood the test of time and remains a popular choice among cocktail enthusiasts, making it one of the best basic cocktails out there.


dry martini cocktail with bottles of ingredients at the background

It’s no secret that dry gin, dry vermouth, and orange bitters combine to make the classic drink known as the Martini. The gin gives it a clean, dry flavor, while the dry vermouth adds a touch of bitter herbal flavor, and the orange bitters add a little sweetness and depth. This classic cocktail’s subtle complexity, silky texture, and stunning presentation make it ideal for both large and small celebrations.

French 75

french 75 cocktail

The French 75 is a timeless classic drink that has a flavor that is both distinct and refreshing, and it is certain to please any cocktail fan who tries it. Gin, Champagne, freshly squeezed lemon juice, and simple syrup go into making this fizzy drink. This concoction has a zesty citrus flavor with just a touch of sweetness. Its presentation is straightforward yet elegant, and its light and bubbly texture make it a favorite option for any event.


Alcoholic Lime and Gin Gimlet with a Garnish

The Gimlet is a classic cocktail that has been around for over a century and has undergone many variations over time. The cocktail has progressed through time to become a favorite among drinkers seeking something light and sour. The Gimlet is best enjoyed in a martini or coupe glass, and its flavor and presentation can be improved with the addition of a lime wheel or a mint leaf.


mimosa made with champagne and orange juice

A mimosa is a popular brunch drink that mixes the tangy sweetness of orange juice with the crisp bubbles of champagne. The beverage is frequently served in a champagne flute and is a favorite for early-morning occasions like weddings and baby showers. The sweetness and tanginess of the fresh orange juice balance out the dryness of the champagne, giving it a light and refreshing flavor. A mimosa is a traditional and timeless beverage that is guaranteed to delight, whether you are enjoying a leisurely weekend brunch or commemorating a special event.

Long Island Iced Tea

Cocktail Long Island Iced Tea

Long Island Iced Tea is a popular cocktail known for its strong taste and potent effects. It has a rich and distinctive flavor that blends sweet, sour, and bitter notes thanks to the mixture of many spirits. When sipping on a Long Island Iced Tea, you can expect to feel the effects quickly due to the high alcohol content. Only people who want a strong, flavorful beverage should indulge in this well-known cocktail.

Amaretto Sour

an amaretto sour cocktail

The nutty taste of amaretto is balanced with the sharpness of lemon juice and simple syrup in the drink known as the “Amaretto Sour.” The almond-flavored liqueur adds a little sweetness, while the lemon juice adds a tart bite and softens it with the simple syrup. A cherry and an orange slice are frequently added as garnishes to the Amaretto Sour, which can be served over ice or straight up. This drink is a delicious cocktail that is simple to make and enjoyable for any occasion.

Tequila Sunrise

tequila sunrise cocktail with ingredients on the background

The Tequila Sunrise is a traditional cocktail that is ideal for individuals who want a sweet and fruity beverage. The tequila and orange juice combination gives this drink a crisp and acidic flavor that is balanced by the sweetness of grenadine syrup. This cocktail is perfect for sipping on a hot summer day or any time you want to add a little tropical flavor to your life.

Whisky Highball

two highball cocktails

Whisky highballs are a simple and delicious beverage with a sweet and spicy flavor. A successful whiskey highball requires the right ratio of the two ingredients, with the whiskey adding a warming bite and the ginger ale adding a sweet and tart flavor. Whether enjoyed as a casual drink or as a party cocktail, the whiskey highball is a classic drink that is perfect for any occasion.


Sidecar cocktail

This cocktail is ideal for anyone who appreciates a tasteful and traditional beverage. It’s a wonderful option for a formal evening or special event. The warmth and richness of the cognac, together with the sweet and sour tastes of the citrus, combine to create a sophisticated and delectable drink. It is no wonder that the Sidecar is considered one of the best basic cocktails in the world.

Aperol Spritz

Aperol Spritz Cocktail

A traditional Italian drink, the Aperol Spritz has become more well-known globally in recent years. Prosecco’s sweetness and Aperol’s bitterness work together to create a flavor that is light and somewhat sweet with a bitter aftertaste. The classic Aperol Spritz presentation requires a wine glass and an orange slice. The drink’s vibrant orange hue is a noteworthy aesthetic feature. Due to its excellent flavor and refreshing attributes, it is a popular drink that is suitable for any occasion.


manhattan cocktail

A classic cocktail that has stood the test of time, the Manhattan is a perfect blend of whiskey, sweet vermouth, and bitters. The beverage has a flavor that is both rich and complex thanks to the blend of sweet and spicy ingredients, which is why whiskey fans enjoy sipping on it. Due to its classic appeal and upscale flavor, it has continued to be a fan favorite among cocktail connoisseurs and is often considered one of the best basic cocktails.

Piña Colada

Pina Colada Cocktail

One of the most iconic tropical drinks, the Piña Colada, is a sugary and delicious treat. This cocktail has a long and interesting history, with its roots tracing back to Puerto Rico in the 1950s. This refreshing drink is made with rum, coconut cream, pineapple juice, and a squeeze of lime. The Piña Colada is a traditional cocktail that will always add a touch of the tropics to any gathering.

Sex on the Beach

sex on the beach cocktail with ingredients

Sex on the Beach is a classic fruity cocktail that is popular among beachgoers and party enthusiasts. The cocktail’s sweet and tart flavor is the result of blending vodka, peach schnapps, crème de cassis, orange juice, and cranberry juice. With its tropical flavors and colorful appearance, it’s easy to see why this cocktail has remained a popular choice for those looking for a fun and flavorful drink.

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A classic martini cocktail in an elegant bar with soft, ambient lighting. The martini is in a traditional martini glass, perfectly clear, with a single olive on a toothpick. The glass should be on a polished wooden bar top, with subtle reflections of the glass and olive. In the background, there are blurred silhouettes of bottles and bar accessories, creating a sophisticated and upscale atmosphere. The focus is on the martini, capturing the essence of a relaxed, high-end social setting.

20 Basic Cocktail Recipes

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
5 from 3 votes
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: American
Keyword: basic cocktails
Servings: 1
Author: Paul Kushner
Discover the art of mixing simple yet delicious cocktails.


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Top 20 Basic Cocktails to Drink
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Paul Kushner

Written by Paul Kushner

Founder and CEO of MyBartender. Graduated from Penn State University. He always had a deep interest in the restaurant and bar industry. His restaurant experience began in 1997 at the age of 14 as a bus boy. By the time he turned 17 he was serving tables, and by 19 he was bartending/bar managing 6-7 nights a week.

In 2012, after a decade and a half of learning all facets of the industry, Paul opened his first restaurant/bar. In 2015, a second location followed, the latter being featured on The Food Network’s Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives.

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