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10 Classic Cocktails

Meet the timeless standards of the cocktail playbook. Mix up these classic adult beverages for your next party or home happy hour.

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10 Classic Cocktails

1. Martini

The gin martini is the king of cocktails. A clear, classic, very strong cocktail. For such a simple cocktail (gin, vermouth), the martini isn't afraid to court a little controversy. What's the right amount of vermouth in a martini? Should you stir it or shake it? Can you make a martini with vodka? There's room for debate. But where does this 5-star martini recipe come down? The vermouth gets a relatively light touch and the cocktail a vigorous shaking. Serve chilled in (you guessed it) a martini glass.

Classic Martini with Olive

Classic Martini with Olive | Photo by Meredith

Find more Classic Gin Cocktails.

2. Manhattan

Similar to the martini but with a touch of sweetness, this bracing, 100-year-old cocktail can be made with bourbon or rye whiskey. As Big Steel says, "This one straddles the fence between sweet and smoky." Serve in a martini glass or a short tumbler -- always chilled.

Classic Manhattan

Photo by Meredith

Find more Classic Whiskey Cocktails.

3. Bloody Mary

Often served at breakfast or brunch or in an airplane, the vodka Bloody Mary is easy to customize depending on how strong you like your drinks -- and how much spice you can handle. Serve over ice in a tall glass with the vegetable garnish of your choice.

Bloody Mary

Photo by Meredith

Find more Classic Vodka Cocktails.


4. Margarita

A sweet tequila-based party drink that's easy to make in batches. If you like, blend in some fruit for extra flavor. You can serve in special rounded margarita glasses or whatever's handy (serving in a mason jar is increasingly popular). Also, the Margarita has a pretty tremendous origin story


Photo by Meredith

Find more Classic Tequila Cocktails.

5. Old Fashioned Cocktail

The original. A sophisticated cocktail that's simple to make and goes down smooth. The original version of this cocktail was simply water, sugar, bitters, and whatever booze was within reach, often brandy. With time, the water became ice, the booze became whiskey, and the drink became an old fashioned. Serve over ice in a short tumbler (also known as an Old Fashioned glass).

Old Fashioned Cocktail

Photo by Meredith


6. Mojito

A refreshing Cuban classic made with white rum and muddled fresh mint. Sweet and fruity on hot summer days. Serve over ice in a tall glass.


Photo by Meredith

Find more Classic Rum Cocktails.

7. Daiquiri

This recipe is the original daiquiri. An easy, rum and lime-juice cocktail shaken over lots of ice, like an island margarita. These days, the daiquiri is often combined with strawberries and spun into a delicious blender drink. Serve in a chilled martini or margarita glass.


Photo by Meredith


8. Gin and Tonic

The good 'ol G&T is a dead-simple summer drink, and another good reason to stay stocked up on fresh limes -- see also the daiquiri above. Serve over ice in a short tumbler.

Gin and Tonic

Photo by Meredith


9. Screwdriver

Certainly the greatest toolbox-related tipple of all time, the screwdriver is also commonly called "vodka and orange juice," for reasons that will not confound. Typically served at breakfast or brunch in a tall glass over ice.


Photo by Meredith

10. Gimlet

A classy Gin and sweetened lime juice (Rose's is the most common brand). Like its cousin, the Gin Rickey, the gimlet is your ticket to warm-weather refreshment. Also sometimes made with vodka. Serve in a martini glass or short tumbler.


Photo by Meredith

Check out our collection of Cocktail Recipes.


Carl Hanson

About Carl Hanson

Carl will eat that. Share with him @CarlNo9 on Twitter.