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Top 20 Beginner Cocktails to Try

I always tell folks starting on their cocktail journey to keep it simple. Begin with classics like a refreshing Gin and Tonic or a bold Whiskey Sour. These drinks don’t just taste great; they teach you the basics of balancing flavors with just a few ingredients. You’ll quickly learn how a squeeze of lime can brighten a drink or how the right amount of ice changes the texture. Mixing these will give you a solid foundation and confidence. I recommend starting with these easy-to-make drinks to build your skills and enjoy some tasty beverages along the way.

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1
classic mojito cocktail on a table in the sun

The Classic Mojito

This classic Cuban rum recipe is the perfect beginner cocktail because it provides instructions on how to make a single cocktail and a pitcher’s worth of mojitos. This mojito recipe is a cut above the classic as it uses mojito simple syrup, a concentrated syrup that blends sugar, lime juice, and mint.
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2
Bee's Knees Cocktail Recipe

Bee’s Knees

Originating during the Prohibition Era, the Bees Knees cocktail is a simple, three-ingredient cocktail that mixes gin, honey, and lemon juice in a cocktail shaker. Honey and lemon juice make a tart and sweet pairing for the floral gin. If you want to dress this cocktail up, you can garnish it with a twist of candied lemon peel.
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3
classic margarita cocktail on a bar in a mexican restaurant

Simple Margarita

The quintessential Mexican cocktail, margaritas, are a crowd-pleasing mixed drink that refreshes a spicy plate of tacos, chips, and salsa. This simple margarita recipe is the most basic margarita ingredient upon which all iterations are built. This recipe blends Blanco tequila with triple sec, lime juice, and agave for a citrusy, sweet cocktail with a spicy alcoholic finish.
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4
Lemon Drop Martini cocktail

Lemon Drop Martini

A sweet and sour version of the classic vodka martini, the lemon drop martini is a refreshing blend of vodka, Cointreau, lemon, and sugar. The rich orange liqueur adds an intense citrus flavor that masks the taste of vodka. The Lemon Drop Martini tastes like its namesake candy and makes the perfect ladies' night cocktail.
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5
orange negroni cocktail on countertop

Negroni Cocktail

An Italian-born cocktail that dates to the early 20th Century, the Negroni is a gin cocktail that blends equal parts gin, Campari, and sweet vermouth. It’s a fool-proof cocktail because there’s an equal amount of each ingredient. The negroni has a floral palate with a dry and bitter finish. It’s the first choice for before-dinner cocktails.
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6
Cold cocktail with lime, tonic water, vodka and ice

Vodka Tonic

Tonic water is a unique cocktail mixer that used to be a malaria medicine. Its key ingredient is quinine, derived from the bark of the South American Chinchona tree, which gives tonic water its distinct bitter herb flavor. Vodka tonic is the simplest cocktail, pouring tonic water over a shot of vodka and finishing it off with a squeeze of lime. You taste a trifecta of sweet, bitter, and sour.
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7
sex on the beach cocktail with ingredients

Sex on the Beach

Another vodka cocktail, Sex on the Beach, is a lusciously sweet and fruity cocktail that blends vodka crème de cassis and peach schnapps with citrus juices. The orange and cranberry juices create a sunset-colored cocktail, garnished with a maraschino cherry and orange slice. This is a great cocktail for beginners to make, as it’s just a matter of shaking all the ingredients together.
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8
cosmopolitan cocktail

Cosmopolitan

The iconic feminine cocktail to celebrate any girl’s night out, the Cosmopolitan is a bright pink vodka cocktail that blends vodka with orange liqueur, cranberry juice, and lime juice. The Cosmopolitan cocktail is equal parts sweet and sour. The marriage of orange and cranberry has long been a favorite fall pairing, but you can enjoy this cocktail any night of the year.
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9
dry martini cocktail with bottles of ingredients at the background

Classic Martini

The classiest classic of all, a gin martini is a two-spirit concoction that blends two parts gin and one part dry vermouth in a cocktail shaker. The botanical taste of gin gets a dry, bitter finish from the vermouth. No martini is complete without a few skewered olives for garnish.
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10
whiskey sour cocktail

Whiskey Sour

Sour cocktails are a popular tradition that dates to the mid-19th century. Whiskey Sours are the most popular variety, consisting of whiskey, citrus juice, and sugar. The key to a good whiskey sour is sticking to a specific ingredient ratio. This recipe uses bourbon or rye whiskey to combine with lemon juice, a few drops of bitters, and simple syrup. The final piece of this cocktail puzzle is adding an egg white to the mix, creating the characteristic frothy head.
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11
image of a White Russian cocktail. The drink is served in an old-fashioned glass filled with ice cubes. It shows distinct layers, with clear vodka at the bottom, a middle layer of dark coffee liqueur, and a top layer of smooth, creamy white heavy cream. The glass is on a wooden bar counter with a cozy, dimly lit bar ambiance in the background. The cocktail is garnished with a few coffee beans on the cream layer, adding an elegant touch.

White Russian

Contrary to popular belief, the White Russian is an adaptation of the Black Russian. It adds heavy cream to the classic Black Russian recipe of vodka and coffee liqueur. This recipe combines two parts vodka to one part Kahlua, adding a dash of heavy cream for a decadent and luxurious liquid dessert.
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12
cuba libre rum and coke

Cuba Libre

An iconic collaboration between Cuba and the US, the Cuba Libre originated at the end of the Spanish American to honor the independence of Cuba from Spain. Also known as Rum and Coke, the Cuba libre is a simple blend of coca cola and white rum, finished with a squeeze of lime juice.
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13
Sidecar cocktail

Sidecar

The Sidecar is a cognac cocktail that dates to the First World War. It blends cognac and triple sec at a two-to-one ratio with a dash of lemon juice. This cocktail combines all three ingredients in a shaker. The result is a delicate and sophisticated sip that lets the richness of alcohol speak for itself.
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14
Vokda Gimlet Cocktail in a Coupe Glass

Vodka Gimlet

The original Gimlet calls for gin, but this Vodka Gimlet replaces the botanical undertones with a neutral spirit. It is a three-ingredient cocktail that mixes vodka with simple syrup and freshly squeezed lime juice. You could mistake this cocktail for a simple limeade as the vodka is camouflaged by the other ingredients. You can always use a harsher American vodka like Tito's for a more alcohol-forward gimlet.
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15
tequila sunrise cocktail with ingredients on the background

Tequila Sunrise

By the looks of this drink, you might think it was a Sex on the Beach cocktail. However, it’d only take one sip to set you straight! Tequila Sunrise is a blend of tequila, orange juice, and grenadine that create a gorgeous orange and red color. The grenadine adds a dry, slightly bitter finish that enhances the orange and agave.
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16
amaretto sour cocktail

Amaretto Sour

A second beginner cocktail from the Sour family, the Amaretto Sour is a three-ingredient combination of Amaretto, lemon juice, and simple syrup. Amaretto tastes like almond extract with a bitter finish. The bitter finish is the perfect complement to the sweet and sour flavors. You could also add a shot of bourbon for a boozier cocktail with even more depth of flavor.
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17
Cocktail Long Island Iced Tea

Long Island Iced Tea

For the daring drinker, the Long Island Iced Tea is infamous for being the strongest cocktail you can order. Ironically, it doesn’t have a drop of tea in it. It does have nearly every spirit you can imagine, including gin, vodka, rum, tequila, and orange liqueur. Miraculously, the strength of all that alcohol is palatable due to a foundation of sour mix and cola.
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18
shutterstock 1794668845

Espresso Martini

A classy and highly caffeinated cocktail, the Espresso Martini will get you drunk and keep you awake. It’s the perfect drink to fuel a late night. The Espresso Martini is a vodka martini that blends espresso with coffee liqueur and simple syrup. The drops of vanilla add a rich finish that compliments the intense coffee flavor.
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19
Pina Colada Cocktail

Piña Colada

If you’ve ever been on a beach vacation, you’ve undoubtedly sipped a Pina Colada out of a hollowed-out pineapple or coconut shell. You can recreate the summery splendor of the tropics at home with this classic Pina Colada recipe. It’s the ultimate boozy milkshake, blending rum, pineapple juice, lime juice, and coconut cream into a frothy, velvety texture.
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20
Tom Collins Cocktail glass

Tom Collins

Named after the founder John Collins, and the original brand of spirit he used (Old Tom gin), Tom Collins is a three-ingredient gin cocktail. It blends two parts gin and one part lemon juice in a high-ball glass, topping it off with ice and soda water. It’s a refreshing cocktail that’s a good option for sugar-free preferences.
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An image of a beginner cocktail, simple yet elegant, served in a classic highball glass. The drink is a combination of a clear spirit like vodka or gin, mixed with a splash of tonic water and a squeeze of lime, representing an easy-to-make yet refreshing choice for beginners. The glass is garnished with a lime wedge on the rim. The setting is a home kitchen or bar, with a relaxed and inviting atmosphere. In the background, there are basic bar tools and a few essential ingredients, like bottles of spirits and fresh limes, showcasing the simplicity of the setup needed for beginner mixologists.

20 Beginner Cocktail Recipes

Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
4.8 from 4 votes
Course: Drinks
Cuisine: American
Keyword: beginner cocktails
Servings: 1
Author: Paul Kushner
Check out these easy and delicious beginner cocktails that are perfect for those new to mixology.

Instructions

  • Pick your favorite recipe
  • Gather all the needed ingredients
  • Prep a beginner cocktail in less than 5 minutes
Tried this recipe?Leave a comment and let us know how it was!
Top 20 Beginner Cocktails to Try
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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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An image of a Mother's Day cocktail, presented in a beautiful, ornate glass. The drink is a soft pink color, reminiscent of a spring bouquet, with a blend of floral and fruit flavors. It's garnished with edible flowers and a thin slice of strawberry, symbolizing love and appreciation for mothers. The setting is a sunny garden terrace with blooming flowers and greenery in the background, creating a serene and joyful atmosphere. The table is elegantly set with a vase of fresh flowers and delicate china, perfect for a Mother's Day celebration.

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A refreshing lychee cocktail, served in an elegant glass on a bar counter. The cocktail is a delicate pink hue, garnished with a lychee fruit on the rim and a sprig of mint. The background features a softly lit, sophisticated bar ambiance with blurred bottles and glasses in the background, creating a warm, inviting atmosphere. The focus is on the cocktail, with its sparkling, translucent appearance, and the gentle play of light reflecting off the ice cubes inside the glass.

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