You can leave it up to your bartender to serve up the best mixed drinks, but why not try it yourself? After all, many of the best cocktail recipes are surprisingly easy. Learning how to mix drinks yourself will not only up your hosting, but will make it easier to know what to order when you go out. To get you started, we’re looking at the top 10 easy mixed drinks anyone can make at home.
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Why You Should Make Your Own Mixed Drinks
There’s something particularly suave about someone that knows their way around a bar. Between the precision to detail, and the dexterity, bartending is a truly impressive talent. Along with the benefits of adding an extra skill to your repertoire, knowing how to make your own cocktails can save you from a hefty bar tab.
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Most Popular Mixed Drinks Are Simple
If you’re new to crafting your own cocktails, the bartending world can seem intimidating. There’s a seemingly endless amount of liquor and an endless amount of drinks to make with each liquor variety. Plus many of the techniques for many popular alcoholic drinks can have a steep learning curve.
However, the truth is that many of the most exciting drinks require the least skill. With just a few simple ingredients, the right bartending tools, and some basic techniques, you’ll be slinging fine cocktails in no time. No need for a fancy drink mixer machine–just the will to learn a few simple tricks.
Tips for Beginning Bartenders
In order to hone your skills, start off with some easy mixed drinks. Given that a cocktail requires at least two ingredients, some easy mixed drinks are as simple as 1, 2, 3.
So, use the following list of 10 easy mixed drinks to help you boost your bartending game. And once you master these recipes you’ll be able to move onto more complex drinks. Or even experiment and create your own.
Tequila Mixed Drinks
1. Margarita | Tequila, Triple Sec, Lime Juice
The Margarita frequently suffers the same fate other sour cocktails suffer: It’s made entirely too sweet and and electrifyingly sour. And although we love a campy frozen drink as much as the next person, a well-made Margarita is a timeless classic.
When building a classic Margarita, you’ll only need three ingredients: Tequila, Triple Sec, and lime juice. Pour your ingredients into a cocktail shaker with some ice. Shake it up and strain into a coup glass or over ice. And salt around the rim is always an option.
Once you’ve mastered the classic recipe for the Margarita you can muddle some fruit or aromatics into your drink. So, whether enjoying the sun or channeling beach vibes, the Margarita is a must-know amongst easy mixed drinks.
2. Paloma | Tequila, Lime Juice, Grapefruit Soda, Pinch of Salt
There’s beauty in simplicity. And a Paloma can be both beautiful and simple to craft.
For a Paloma, all you need is tequila, lime juice, grapefruit soda, and a pinch of salt. You can build the drink in a glass with ice. It’s an easy fruity mixed drink that’s even easier to drink.
Vodka Mixed Drinks
3. Vodka Martini | Vodka, Dry Vermouth, Olives
When you envision the word “cocktail”, it’s likely a Martini that comes to mind. The timeless silhouette of a Martini glass often accompanies cocktail bar signage and décor making it hard to miss.
But the popularity doesn’t stop at glassware. In fact the Vodka Martini is as popular in taste as it is in visuals. And with only three ingredients, it’s a classic easy recipe and among the best drinks to order at a bar.
Do yourself a favor and skip the cheap vodka. For a Martini, you’ll want to experience one of the higher quality vodkas available. Once you’ve chosen your vodka, all you need is dry vermouth, and some green olives for a garnish. Get a little dirty with some olive juice–or don’t.
The only variation in recipe tends to be proportions. So, play around with the recipe and find your own preferred take on the Vodka Martini. Contrary to Mr. Bond’s famous preferences, a Martini benefits from a good stir. The case for shaking is made primarily for mouth feel, as it aerates the ingredients and texture–but it’s a personal preference rather than a hill to die on.
4. Moscow Mule | Vodka, Ginger Beer, Lime
Famous for their frosty copper mugs, Moscow Mules are as easy to make as they are enjoyable to drink–especially when the weather is hot. All you need is ginger beer, vodka, and lime juice. Since you already have the limes, go ahead and garnish your cocktail with a wedge.
And there you go, one of the most refreshing simple mixed drinks in three easy steps!
Of course the copper mug isn’t necessary, but it is a nice touch. Truly a unique drinking experience.
Whiskey Mixed Drinks
5. Manhattan | Rye Whiskey, Sweet Vermouth, Angostura Bitters
When you think of classic cocktails, a Manhattan likely makes it pretty high up on your list. What’s more, a Manhattan has all the makings of an easy mixed drink.
According to the International Bartenders Association, a Manhattan consists of three simple ingredients: rye whiskey, sweet vermouth, and angostura bitters.
First, you need to combine whiskey, vermouth, bitters, and ice cubes in a mixing glass. Then, you stir your mixture well. Once the ingredients are combined, you strain the drink into a cocktail glass. Lastly, keep your garnish game strong, and add a cherry or an orange peel.
And it’s as easy as that! Now you can enjoy a classic favorite mixed drink recipe at home.
6. Whiskey Sour | Bourbon, Lemon Juice, Simple Syrup
Although Whiskey Sours are classic cocktails, they haven’t always been treated with respect. Oftentimes, a sour will get reduced to overly sweet store-bought sour mix and house booze. The result is an experience similar to eating sour candy, and leads to this drink getting passed off as a “girly drink.”
But Whiskey Sours are easy mixed drinks to make even without trying to cut corners, and they deserve more respect. Once you have a proper sour cocktail, you’ll never settle for premade sour mix again.
A proper Whiskey Sour consists of bourbon whiskey, fresh lemon juice, and simple syrup. Of course, you can always flex your bartending skills and add egg whites to give your Whiskey Sour a nice foam. And for added depth, include a few splashes of angostura bitters before serving.
All you need to do is pour into a cocktail shaker with ice and shake it up. However, if you’re using egg white you’ll need to shake it harder for longer. Then strain into a coup glass straight up, or serve over ice in an old fashioned glass.
Gin Mixed Drinks
7. Gimlet | Gin, Rose’s Lime Cordial
The Gimlet is by far the easiest of easy mixed drinks. So simple, in fact, that it only requires two ingredients to make. In truth, the process is simple but the result is a beautiful cocktail in flavor and presentation.
Traditionally the recipe calls for gin, plus Rose’s Lime Cordial. Although, vodka is sometimes used in place of gin. Combine your liquor of choice, Rose’s, and ice into a shaker and serve straight up or over ice.
The resulting cocktail is effortlessly elegant. And you’ll be able to show off your bartending skills, and impress guests.
8. Negroni | Gin, Sweet Vermouth, Campari, Orange Peel
Each year bartenders and patrons around the world come together for one week to celebrate a timeless gin cocktail: the Negroni.
As far as easy mixed drinks go, the Negroni has a pretty dedicated cult following. So much so, in fact, that there is an entire week devoted to celebrating the drink.
In order to craft a classic Negroni, you’ll need gin, sweet vermouth, campari, and orange peel. Once you’ve gathered your ingredients, you pour all the ingredients over ice and stir. Then, rub the orange peel around the rim of the glass before adding it to your drink.
The beauty of the Negroni is its simplicity. The overall result is a well balanced blend of sweet, bitter, and citrus notes. Truly a bartender’s cocktail, and easily one of the best drinks to order at a bar.
Seasonal Mixed Drinks
9. Aperol Spritz | Prosecco, Aperol, Soda Water
If you want an instant summer getaway then all you need is an Aperol Spritz. With a bubbly sweetness and sunset hues, a Spritz is the ultimate summer cocktail.
As with the other easy mixed drinks on our list, you only need a few ingredients to enjoy a traditional Aperol Spritz: prosecco, Aperol, and soda water. And you can easily build the drink over ice and serve.
So, one of the best bar drinks without the added mess of a cocktail shaker, muddler, or strainer. An Aperol Spritz is an all around winner as far as easy mixed drinks are concerned.
10. Hot Toddy | Whiskey or Rum, Hot Water, Honey, Lemon, Cinnamon
Hot Toddies aren’t just for your grandparents; consider them equal-opportunity mixed drinks. If you’ve been sleeping on this comforting classic, then you’ve really been missing out.
Traditionally, the Hot Toddy is either a whiskey or rum mixed drink, which then adds hot water and honey. The concept is simple, but the result is heavenly. Plus you can (and should) easily spice things up by adding a cinnamon stick, some star anise, or lemon.
A Hot Toddy is a great mixed drink to kick back and relax with. In fact, they even have a reputation for helping fight the common cold. And if you need something that packs more of a punch than hot cocoa on a cold winter’s night, a Hot Toddy is a quick and easy option.
Next time you’re feeling under the weather, put the kettle on, ditch the tea bag, and reach for the liquor cabinet.
Three Tools Essential to Any Home Bartender
Want to make crafting easy mixed drinks even easier? These tools are a must have for any home bartender.
If you’re trying to recreate some of your favorite drinks at home, it helps to have easy access to the recipes. The Ultimate Bar Book looks good as part of your home bar, and it really is the ultimate guide to bartending.
Along with being a helpful addition to your own bar, the “Ultimate Bar Book” doubles as a great gift. So, share the love of craft cocktails, and send your buddy a copy–encouraging them to host for a change.
In order to really hone your bartending skills, you need a good bar setup. Luckily, there’s an entire cocktail shaker set by Cresimo.
With one purchase you get a cocktail shaker, a jigger, and a cocktail spoon. It even comes with a cocktail guide to help you start off on your mixologist journey. Everything you need in one package!
If you want to really step your bartending game up, a muddler is essential. When it comes to elevating easy mixed drinks to new heights, some muddled fruits, or aromatics go a long way.
A mixing spoon with a trident forked end is sure to be a huge help around the bar, as well. With a two-in-one spoon/fork combo, you’ll never struggle with pesky hard to grab garnishes again.
Best Mixed Drinks: Final Thoughts
Easy mixed drinks definitely aren’t basic. In fact the simple recipes allow the drinker to experience the depth of the spirits and ingredients of these classic cocktails. Just make sure you load up with good liquor and quality ingredients, and stock your home bar with the tools you need to make them.
Which is your favorite out of the easy mixed drinks on this list? Is there a cocktail you plan to recreate yourself? Tell us about your bartending adventures in the comments below!