Whether you’re celebrating your sapphire anniversary or preparing for the all-important 21st birthday bash, there’s no reason you need to stick with the same old boring drinks.
While you might think the best tasting alcoholic drinks need to be packed full of fruit juice and sugars, some of our favorite traditional cocktails have been in existence since Prohibition… And there’s a reason they’ve remained popular for so long!
By focusing on quality liquor recipes and adding only a few simple ingredients, the best cocktails are refined, time-tested drinks that even the most amateur bartender will be able to perfect.
So, if you’re looking to create a stunning signature cocktail for the birthday boy or girl, or you simply want to impress when ordering a drink at your next special occasion, you can’t go wrong with one of theamazing cocktailsbelow!
1. Classic Dry Martini
The Martini is one of the most famous classy drinks around, for a good reason! It’s made from gin and dry vermouth with ice. While James Bond might prefer his “shaken, not stirred,” the Dry Martini is traditionally stirred.
Dry Martinis are served in a martini glass and usually garnished with an olive or lemon twist, or create a “Gibson” by adding an onion pickled in vinegar.
A true American classic, the Manhattan is undoubtedly one of the most crucial cocktails to try if you’re looking for a classic, classy drink that’s been around since the mid-1870s. This stylish cocktail hails from the Manhattan Club in New York City and is made with whiskey, sweet vermouth, and bitters.
Original Manhattans were made with rye whiskey. However, this became difficult to get hold of during the 20th century, so Canadian whiskey or Bourbon also became popular.
To complete, garnish with a cherry or lemon peel.
The classic Bellini was first imagined by Giuseppe Cipriani in Venice, Italy in 1940. The drink is timeless and incredibly easy to prepare, perfect for a special occasion or celebration.
The original Bellini is made with prosecco or champagne and a peach puree dash to offer the delicious sweetness essential to this Italian beverage.
Today, Bellinis can be found in all sorts of flavors. Some of our favorites include raspberry, passion fruit, and lavender – or add orange juice to your sparkling white wine to create a delightful mimosa!
4. White Russian
The White Russian is a deliciously creamy cocktail that makes an incredible after-dinner treat. It’s made with vodka, coffee liquor (often Tia Maria), and cream, and is served over ice.
There are many “Russian” variations to experiment with. Try a Blind Russian (also known as a “Muddy Water”) by substituting the cream with Irish cream (think Baileys) for an even more alcoholic combination!
Alternatively, you could forsake the cream to create a Black Russian. If that’s a little strong for you, serve a Brown Russian in a highball glass with ginger ale.
5. Lemon Drop
This sophisticated sweet and sour cocktail is an excellent choice if you usually prefer a vodka-lemonade at the bar. It’s prepared with vodka, lemon juice, triple sec, and simple syrup.
It’s sometimes considered a twist on the Vodka Martini and is served “straight up” (chilled, strained, over ice).
Garnish with a lemon twist or slice and a sugared rim for a complete look.
The Negroni was designed as an “aperitif” (to be served before eating) and is one of the most famous Campari cocktails around.
The drink is made using equal parts gin, Campari (an Italian bitter), and sweet vermouth, and is a fabulous staple for any 1920s themed event. It’s stirred, not shaken (sorry, James Bond), and garnished with an orange slice.
Old-Fashioned in name but not flavor, this cocktail is a great way to introduce drinkers to whiskey and bartenders to muddling. It’s made with sugars, bitters, water, and whiskey.
Serve in an old-fashioned glass with a single ice cube, garnished with an orange slice or twist and a maraschino cherry.
Interestingly, the “old fashioned” glass actually predates the cocktail, which didn’t get its name until the 1880s.
Supposedly the drink of choice of famed writer Ernest Hemingway, the traditional Daiquiri hails from the late-1800s and is (surprisingly) similar to the margarita.
The original Daiquiri is made from three simple ingredients: rum, citrus juice, and sugar. These days, it’s a popular vacation drink and is often infused with fruits to provide a fresh, fruity summer drink that everyone loves... Strawberry Daiquiri, anyone?
9. Whiskey Sour
The Whiskey Sour is an incredibly sophisticated drink famed for its tart taste. The beverage uses whiskey (obviously) with a splash of lemon juice and sugar to balance.
To make a traditional Whiskey Sour (sometimes called a Boston Sour), add an egg white (or vegan substitute) while mixing for a smooth and luxurious texture.
If whiskey isn’t your favorite, you can make Sour drinks from almost any spirit. We particularly enjoy a summery Gin Sour or a wintery Ameretto Sour.
10. Moscow Mule
A Moscow Mule is a delicious dark and stormy cocktail that uses vodka, spicy ginger beer, and lime juice to create a timeless beverage any alcohol connoisseur will love. It’s a type of “Buck” cocktail, so you might also hear it referred to as a “Vodka Buck.”
A proper Moscow Mule should always be served in a copper mug to maintain the drink’s crisp, cold temperature. Add a lime wedge and mint garnish for the full effect.
You wouldn’t want to ruin the sophisticated aesthetic of a Manhatten or Dry Martini with a silly straw and umbrella garnish, but equally, you wouldn’t serve a Sex on the Beach without them! Getting the right accessories to complement each beverage is key to achieving the elegant, sparkling look you’ve seen in the advertisement for your favorite bar.
It’s the little embellishments that take your fancy cocktails to the next levels. Will your cocktail be enhanced by a citrus slice, olive, or sugar ring? Not just pretty, the right garnishes to perfectly complement your drink is the key to creating the classiest drinks on the market.
That said, even the classiest cocktails’ aesthetic can immediately be ruined with cloudy or unappealing-looking ice. Bring your next dinner party or cocktail hour up a notch with our fantastic clear ice makers so you can ensure all aspects of your signature cocktails are as beautiful as they are delicious.