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14 Classic American Cocktails to Drink

Reigning as liquid embodiments of American culture, classic cocktails are more than beverages—they’re chapters in the nation’s narrative. 

Corporate party martini glasses

From clandestine speakeasies during Prohibition to the suave soirées of today, these drinks transcend time and circumstance. The symphony of aged spirits, aromatic bitters, and hand-squeezed juices orchestrates a harmony that resonates on the palate. Whether in the dimly lit corners of historic taverns or the sleek ambiance of modern mixology havens, classic American cocktails stand as eloquent reminders that each sip tells a story of innovation, tradition, and a deep love for the craft.

Mint Julep

Mint Julep Cocktail Recipe

Mint Julep, a timeless American classic, entices with a perfect balance of bourbon’s warmth and satisfying mint. Crafted from simple ingredients—bourbon, mint leaves, and a hint of simple syrup—it captures the essence of easy elegance. The muddled mint releases its fresh essence, while the gentle sweetness of syrup complements the rich bourbon. Adorned with a sprig of mint, it stands apart, offering a harmonious blend that whispers of Southern charm and leisurely indulgence.


Sazerac

a glass of Sazerac cocktail with ingredients as background

The Sazerac, a timeless classic, harmonizes the robust allure of rye whiskey with the subtle mystique of absinthe. This concoction of rye, accented by a delicate hint of anise, evokes a bold yet refined palate. The gentle sweetness from a sugar cube rounds out the experience, while a lemon twist garnish adds a final flourish. What sets the Sazerac apart is its artful blend of minimal, uncomplicated ingredients – a true embodiment of sophistication and flavor innovation.


Gin Rickey

gin rickey cocktail with lime

The Gin Rickey, a timeless classic, combines the crisp allure of gin with the tang of fresh lime juice. This concoction is perfected by topping it off with fizzy seltzer, creating a harmonious blend of flavors. With gin taking the lead, its herbal notes intertwine seamlessly with the zesty lime, offering a balanced yet revitalizing taste. What sets it apart is its simplicity – just gin, lime juice, and seltzer – letting the ingredients shine for a drink that’s effortlessly enjoyable and always a crowd-pleaser.


Moscow Mule

moscow mule

Crowned with a delicate sprig of mint or a vibrant slice of lime, the Moscow Mule emerges as the embodiment of unpretentious elegance. This classic cocktail skillfully intertwines the richness of premium vodka, the zesty allure of freshly squeezed lime juice, and the distinct kick of quality ginger beer. The result is a symphony of flavors that dance harmoniously on the palate. The Mule’s distinctive charm lies in its artful simplicity – a testament to how a handful of carefully selected ingredients can blend into a truly memorable concoction, perfect for any occasion.


Lynchburg Lemonade

Lynchburg Lemonade
Source: thespruceeats.com

Lynchburg Lemonade is a harmonious blend of Tennessee whiskey, triple sec, and tangy lemon juice, topped with lemon-lime soda for a balanced sweetness. With its delightful interplay of citrus and warmth from the whiskey, it’s a timeless classic that embodies relaxed evenings. The drink’s simplicity, combining the zestiness of lemons and the smoothness of whiskey, sets it apart. Garnished with lemon slices, it’s not just a drink, but a cheerful companion to unwind with.


Cosmopolitan

Cosmopolitan cocktail

Cosmopolitan exudes a harmonious blend of vodka, Cointreau, cranberry juice, and fresh lime, creating a balanced fusion that delights the senses. The zesty essence of lime intertwines with the vibrant sweetness of cranberry, guided by the vodka’s subtle strength. Adorned with a lime wedge, this cocktail achieves the perfect equilibrium between tart and sweet, making it a timeless choice. With its simple yet bold components, the Cosmopolitan’s distinct character stands apart, delivering a sophisticated and memorable sipping experience.


Manhattan

manhattan cocktail

Crafted from bourbon or rye, sweet vermouth, orange bitters, and Angostura bitters, the Manhattan cocktail exudes a harmonious fusion of deep flavors. This classic encapsulates a perfect blend of smoky, woody notes from bourbon or rye, elegantly balanced by the richness of sweet vermouth. The faint zest of orange and aromatic bitters elevate its profile, while a Luxardo cherry garnish crowns it with a touch of fruity indulgence. An embodiment of timeless simplicity, the Manhattan stands apart for its warm, inviting character that beckons connoisseurs and newcomers alike.


Old Fashioned

glasses-of-old-fashioned-with-orange-peels-ice-and-cherry

The Old Fashioned cocktail seamlessly marries the robust notes of bourbon, a delicate hint of sugar, and the aromatic touch of Angostura bitters. A subtle splash of water works in harmony, tempering the intense flavors to perfection. The finishing touch comes in the form of an orange peel, releasing its fragrant oils, and a brandied cherry, adding a nuanced sweetness. With its artful balance of elements, the Old Fashioned stands as a testament to the artistry of mixology, embracing simplicity as its hallmark and etching its place as an enduring symbol of American cocktail heritage.


Bloody Mary

Classic Bloody Mary Recipe

The Bloody Mary, a classic cocktail, harmonizes vodka with tomato juice, yielding a rich and savory profile. Infused with zesty lemon juice, a splash of Worcestershire and Tabasco sauces, and a medley of spices, including black pepper and celery salt, it boasts a complex taste. What sets it apart is the addition of horseradish, which imparts a unique kick. Garnished with lemon, lime wedges, and a celery stalk, the Bloody Mary’s charm lies in its simple yet robust ingredients, making it a timeless choice for those seeking a bold and flavorful concoction.


Appletini

two appletini cocktails on a black background

Embodying the crisp essence of freshly picked apples, the Appletini is a delightful fusion of vodka, Calvados, and pleasing apple juice. Its balanced character is further enhanced by a touch of zesty lemon juice and a hint of sweetness from simple syrup. Adorned with thin apple slices and a maraschino cherry, this classic cocktail embodies pure sophistication. Its simple yet harmonious blend sets it apart, offering an unmistakable taste that resonates with both cocktail enthusiasts and newcomers alike.


Long Island Iced Tea

Cocktail Long Island Iced Tea

Long Island Iced Tea seamlessly blends vodka, gin, white rum, blanco tequila, and triple sec into a harmonious medley. Its distinctive allure lies in the balance of spirits, a splash of sour mix, and a cola finish. Crowned with a zesty lemon or lime garnish, this cocktail tempts with a layered symphony of flavors, marrying the character of each liquor while setting itself apart as a bold yet approachable classic.


Dirty Martini

dirty martini cocktail with bottles of ingredients in the background

Indulge in the allure of a Dirty Martini, where vodka or gin intertwines with dry vermouth and a dash of olive juice. Adorned with two olives, this classic exudes a harmonious blend of spirits with a hint of briny intrigue. Its simplicity—crafted from minimal yet impactful ingredients—sets it apart. Savor the mingling of juniper-kissed spirits, the subtle herbal whispers of vermouth, and the whisper of olive, resulting in a sophisticated profile that stands as a timeless testament to balance and taste.


Whiskey Sour

Sweet Homemade Whiskey Amarreto Sour Cocktail Recipe with a Cherry

The Whiskey Sour, a timeless American classic, embodies a harmonious blend of Bourbon or Rye Whiskey, lending depth and warmth. Fresh lemon juice provides a zesty twist, balanced by the delicate sweetness of simple syrup. The secret lies in the velvety texture from the addition of egg white, creating a smooth and luxurious mouthfeel. A few dashes of Angostura Bitters enhance the complexity, while an orange swath garnish crowns this cocktail. Uncomplicated yet rich in character, the Whiskey Sour captures the essence of balance and indulgence in a glass.


New York Sour

New York Sour Cocktail

The New York Sour boasts a rich blend of rye whiskey or bourbon, fresh lemon juice, and a dash of simple syrup. What sets it apart is the tantalizing layer of red wine floating atop, infusing the drink with depth. A surprising yet harmonious addition, the egg white imparts a silky texture. Garnish with a lemon wheel or cherry for a final flourish. This classic cocktail harmonizes robust flavors and smooth textures, making it a timeless choice for those seeking a nuanced and balanced indulgence.


Corporate party martini glasses

14 Classic American Cocktail Recipes

Yield: 1
Prep Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes

Instructions

  1. Pick your favorite recipe
  2. Gather all the needed ingredients
  3. Prep a classic american cocktail in less than 5 minutes

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14 Classic American 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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