Ten Popular Cocktail Recipes

Make These Favorites like a Pro

by J. M. Pressley
First published: March 29, 2010

Mix drinks like a pro with these popular cocktail recipes.

Cocktails have evolved over the past couple of centuries. In the early 1800s, the first acknowledged cocktails were defined by their four key ingredients: distilled spirits, sugar, water, and bitters. That seems to have remained the standard for decades, although the drinking public largely preferred its liquor—usually whiskey—straight up. In the years of Prohibition, however, things changed. Gin, more easily produced, replaced whiskey as the spirit of first choice. At the same time, the lesser quality of illicit liquors encouraged blending with other ingredients to make the drinks more palatable.

The popularity of cocktails has fluctuated ever since. From their heyday in the fifties and sixties, cocktails waned in the seventies and experienced a resurgence in the late eighties and nineties. Today, cocktails are enjoying a prevalence unseen for decades, with drinks such as martinis, cosmopolitans, and mojitos leading the way.

The best thing about these cocktails? Most are as easy to make as they are fun to drink. Enjoy the following recipes for ten of the most popular mixed drinks.

Bloody Mary

  • 2 oz. Vodka
  • 6 oz. tomato juice
  • 2 oz. lemon juice
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Tabasco sauce

Add vodka, tomato juice, and lemon juice into a shaker over ice. Add a dash each of Worcestershire and Tabasco sauces. Shake well. Strain into a highball glass. Garnish with a celery stalk and serve chilled. For a spicier Bloody Mary, use a pepper-flavored vodka or tomato juice.

Cosmopolitan

  • 2 oz. vodka
  • 1 oz. Cointreau
  • 1 oz. cranberry juice
  • ½ oz. lime juice

Combine vodka, Cointreau, cranberry juice, and lime juice in a shaker over ice. Shake well. Strain into a martini glass. If preferred, you can garnish with a twist of lime.

Daiquiri

  • 1½ oz. light rum
  • 1 oz. fresh lime juice
  • 1 tsp. sugar

Combine rum, lime juice, and sugar in a shaker over ice. Shake well. Strain into a martini glass. Garnish with a lime wedge. For a frozen daiquiri, combine ingredients with ice in a blender and mix to a smooth consistency.

Gimlet

  • 2 oz. vodka
  • 1¼ oz. fresh lime juice

Mix vodka and lime juice in a glass over ice. Stir and strain into a martini glass, or serve with ice in a rocks glass. If preferred, you can garnish with a lime wedge. Gimlets can also be made with gin instead of vodka.

Margarita

  • 1½ oz. tequila
  • 1 oz. Triple Sec (or Cointreau)
  • 1 oz. lime juice

Combine tequila, Triple Sec, and lime juice into a shaker over ice. Shake well. Strain into a martini glass. Garnish with a lime wedge. For a frozen margarita, combine ingredients with ice in a blender and mix to a smooth consistency. If you prefer, rub the glass rim with a lime wedge and dip the glass upside-down into a plate of salt before pouring the drink for a fancier presentation.

Martini

  • 2 oz. gin
  • ½ oz extra-dry vermouth

Combine gin and vermouth over ice. Stir or shake well. Strain into a martini glass. Garnish with an olive, lemon twist, or cocktail onion. Martinis can also be made with vodka instead of gin. For a "dirty martini," add ½–1 oz. of olive brine to the mix.

Mojito

  • 2 oz. light rum
  • 1 oz. fresh lime juice
  • 1-2 tsp. sugar
  • 4-5 mint leaves
  • soda water

Crush mint leaves with lime juice and sugar. Add with rum to a highball glass and top off the glass with ice and soda water. Garnish with a lime wedge or mint sprig if desired. Mojitos can also be made with a flavored vodka (citrus, raspberry, vanilla, etc.) instead of rum.

Old-Fashioned

  • 2 oz. bourbon
  • 1 sugar cube
  • 2 dashes Angostura Bitters
  • club soda

Place the sugar cube in a rocks glass and saturate with Angostura Bitters. Add club soda to cover the sugar cube and crush the cube with a spoon. Fill the glass with ice and add bourbon. Garnish with an orange slice and a maraschino cherry. If preferred, you can substitute rye whiskey, Scotch, or brandy for bourbon in this drink.

Screwdriver

  • 2½ oz. vodka
  • 5 oz. fresh orange juice

Combine vodka and orange juice in a highball glass over ice. Stir gently. Garnish with an orange slice

Whiskey Sour

  • 1½ oz. bourbon
  • 1 oz. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. sugar

Combine bourbon, lemon juice, and sugar in a shaker over ice. Shake well. Strain into a martini glass. Garnish with a maraschino cherry (and optionally an orange slice). If preferred, add a dash of egg white before shaking.

Sources

Vintage Cocktails (Van Flandern, 2009), The Professional Bartender's Handbook (Mellema, 2007), The Bartender's Bible (Regan, 2003)