While we like to think of cocktails as a wholly American invention — guessing that all kinds of mixers would have been employed to mask the taste of prohibition bathtub gin — the mixed drink is a European import. Gin and ginger mixed with oats was given to mixed breed horses (called cock-tails, as their tails were cut to mark them) to give them a spring in their step so they would fetch better prices at auction. Did some enterprising horse trainer give the gin and ginger a taste? Who knows. But the first American cocktail recipes were published in a 1862 book by a fellow called Jerry Thomas, who historians refer to as the father of modern bartending in America. Nowadays, we celebrate almost all holidays with an offering of festive cocktails, like these 12 green cocktails you can sip on today for St. Patrick’s Day.

There’s a reason certain cocktails never die. They’re called classics, as great taste never goes out of fashion. With spring right around the corner, here are four classic cocktails just right for spring:

1. The Bee’s Knees

This classic cocktail dates back to the prohibition era when “the bee’s knees” meant “the very best.” The lemon and honey would have masked the harshness of the bathtub gin.

2. Elderflower Gin Fizz

In the 1950s, the Gin Fizz was all the rage on the cocktail circuit. French perfumer Henri Giboulet he created a perfume for Grace Kelly that he named Gin Fizz. The liquor St-Germain adds a delicious elderflower note.

3. The Gimlet

The classic Gimlet combines gin, lime juice and simple syrup. Or swap gin for vodka, add a little lemonade, some cucumber slices and a sprig of basil and you’ve got a perfect spring cocktail.

4. The Greyhound

The classic Greyhound has just two ingredients, vodka and grapefruit juice. But over at Kitchen Konfidence, Brandon’s take on the Greyhound employs grapefruit-tarragon infused vodka and blood orange slices for garnish.

If you want to drink and not get a hangover, just make use of some ginger in your drink. Here are two drinks that are hangover-free.

Do you have a favorite spring cocktail to share? Tag us on Instagram @britandco.

(Photo via Kitchen Konfidence)