Cocktails 101: Everything You Need To Make The Perfect Drink
In a cocktail rut? Here's your ultimate boozy primer from Brit + Co. Whether you want to add some spirited fun to your summer travels, self-care to your evenings, or expand your palate and try something new, these flavorful and colorful drink recipes are perfect for any time of year or celebration. They even make a great date night activity! Up your cocktail game with our tips and tricks for how to make the perfect cocktail, DIYing a unique bar cart, and our favorite bar essentials for your home. Salud!
Should I Shake or Stir?
We always recommend using quality products and ingredients to enhance the flavor of your drinks, but also to make sure your tools work better and last longer. Bonus: Your cocktail experience will be that much better.
Now James Bond convinced us that shaken, not stirred, was the cooler way to go. But there's actually a reason to go with one or the other:
When to Shake: Shake cocktails when you need to meld flavors, such as drinks that feature non-spirit ingredients (citrus juice, egg whites, simple syrup, cream, and herbs).
When to Stir: Stir spirits-forward drinks (classic martinis, Manhattans, and old fashioned's) to chill without diluting them, which can minimize the overall flavor and texture of the cocktail.
Now time to get mixing!
Classic Cocktail Recipes With Twist
Filled with a smokey coolness that separates it from its sister spirit, tequila, mezcal is the perfect add to this Rosé Paloma and other delicious citrus cocktail recipes. (via Brit + Co)
The classic margarita was created almost 200 years ago, and there's a good chance you have a lot of the ingredients in your kitchen already (like limes and agave). This bright, quick, and easy recipe has "summer" written all over it. (via Brit + Co)
Make your marg better: Opt for a mid-range tequila that won't overwhelm the drink.
This 'rita receives all its sweetness from cold-press watermelon juice and watermelon jelly (we used the StoneWall Kitchen version). Though we served ours shaken and straight up, you can blend it with ice or pour it over the rocks. As for the salt, any will do, but we love the look of pink Himalayan salt. (Brit + Co)
Photo via Felipe Cuevas
This recipe is perfect for serious cocktail drinkers and it's pretty easy to make. All you need are five ingredients — and don't forget the ice and oranges! (via Brit + Co)
Make your Old Fashioned better: Opt for a sweetener besides white sugar to round out this drink.
Leave your hot chocolate recipe at the door because this chocolatey goodness will warm up your soul as you sip through vanilla vodka, Baileys and chocolate ganache while it swims in swirls of chocolate syrup.
While the classic drink includes olive juice or brine, this next-level martini opts for a sweeter flavor. (via Brit + Co)
This recipe just needs four ingredients and a cocktail shaker - perfect for anyone who wants a grown-up ginger beer. (via Brit + Co)
Make your mule better: Make sure to use a copper mug because they're insulated and protect your drink from the warmth of your hand.
A little bit spicy, a little bit savory, this cocktail is perfect for gameday or Sunday brunch. Fair warning: once you make this one, you won't be able to get enough. (via Brit + Co)
Make your Mary better: Don't forget the celery — the clear taste and crunch will balance out the tomato, salt, and heat.
Tools You Need
This handy little tool is for measuring syrups, liquor, and more. It's got both interior and exterior markings, and this particular jigger has a higher design that makes pouring more exact.
Keep your drinks smooth and clean by straining ice and fruit from your cocktail with this tool. It won't drip because of the raised lip, and the shorter handle makes it easier to store. (It's also dishwasher safe).
You definitely want to make sure your drink is mixed nicely, and this stirrer will help you with that. It's also great for smoothies and coffee, so you'll get lots of use out of it.
If you want to grab every tool at once, opt for a set that has everything you need!
Bar Cart + Other Essentials
Turn an old dresser into a bar cart with this DIY that is totally unique. (via Brit + Co)
For days you just want to grab and go, these jars are a perfect (and easy) solution. Just add 12 ounces of alcohol, keep it in the fridge for three days, and shake before serving. Plus, you can take it on picnics, outings, and more.
This two-in-one salt and juicer combo will make a great addition to every bar cart.
Iris Rainbow Pot ($10+)
Use a cute pot to grow mint or basil for a nearby cocktail garnish.
The kinds of glasses you pick will definitely add to the overall look of your bar cart. Pick clear pieces with unique silhouettes or glasses in every color of the rainbow. (via Brit + Co)
Syrups + More
How to Make Simple Syrup
Sweeten your drinks with your own DIY simple syrup. You'll never go back to store-bought again!
Lavender Simple Syrup:
- 2 cups water
- 1 cup sugar
- 2 tablespoons food-quality, dried lavender
1. Add the water, sugar, and lavender to a small saucepan over high heat. Whisk to combine and bring the mixture to a boil. Cover, reduce the heat to low, and simmer for 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow the mixture to steep for about 30 minutes, covered.2. Strain the lavender buds from the liquid and discard. Allow the mixture to cool. You can store the simple syrup in a glass container in the refrigerator for about two weeks. (via Brit + Co)
Add these 3-ingredient sugar cubes to your glass for a cute addition to any drink! We can't wait to use them for every one of our favorite recipes. (via Brit + Co)
Cocktail Recipe Books
This recipe book focuses on seasonal flavors and produce so that you can make new recipes all year long.
Perfect for beginners, The Essential Bar Book will help you learn ingredients, tools, techniques, and glassware that'll help you become a master without leaving home.
Summer Cocktails ($13)
These 45 recipes will quench your thirst and cool you down on a hot summer day. With both alcoholic and virgin recipes, there's something for everyone this summer!
The Official Downton Abbey Cocktail Book ($18, was $25)
Before the second Downton Abbey movie comes out this Christmas, try your hand at these themed cocktails. The recipes (which include character-specific cocktails, everyday drinks, and hangover helpers) is organized by the room in which the drinks would have been served.
Cocktails and Beyond
Whether you're already mastered cocktails or you're not into sweet sips, check out our Beer Brewing online class for a lesson in this full-bodied drink.
A couple of good scoops topped with gin, ruby grapefruit juice, and a splash of tonic, and you've found your weekend cocktail and dessert in one go with this cocktail. Swap out the lemon for orange or raspberry sorbet if you prefer and try its cousin: our Cucumber Gin Slush.
This fermented drink is easier to make than you think — and it's even easier to flavor! There's plenty of room for your creativity, so don't be afraid to go crazy. (via Brit + Co)
Just like every recipe, cocktails are okay in moderation, and if you're looking for ideas on how to make a swap or you want healthier cocktail recipes, this is for you. (via Brit + Co)
If you're more of a wine gal, consider sprucing up your nightly glass with carbonated water and fruit garnishes. (via Brit + Co)
Never mess up a cocktail again using these golden ratios that will help you master every adult beverage.
Whether you're a cocktail pro or you've never made a drink before, keep this guide on how to make the perfect cocktail in your back pocket for all your summer sips! With cocktail recipes, tool recommendations, and tips and tricks, you can treat all your friends to the best cocktail ever.
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Brit + Co Editorial Assistant, Swiftie | Chloe is from the Outer Banks of North Carolina (yes, like the Netflix show!). When she isn't writing or updating her blog Pastels and Pop Culture, Chloe enjoys watching Marvel movies or texting her sister about the latest celebrity news. Say hi at @thechloewilliams on Insta!