Last Updated:
September 28, 2023

Basic Cocktail Recipes Every Bartender Should Know

Learn the basic cocktail recipes every bartender should know to impress your customers and increase sales.
Basic Cocktail Recipes Every Bartender Should Know
Bogdan Patynski
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Part of the fun of being a bartender is coming up with custom cocktails to wow the customers.

To run an efficient and smooth bar shift, every bartender should know the basics of bartender cocktail recipes and drink mixing techniques. They may pick and combine from among a huge selection of the most popular cocktails and mixed drink recipes but the most basic drinks are a good place to start.

In this article, we rounded up the basic cocktails every bartender should know. With these recipes under your belt, you’ll make any bar proud.

How to Get the Most Out of This Bartender Drinks List: A Quick Note

One of the fundamental things that every bartender should know is the common mixological terms and units of measurement. The following contains a few terms that are either nonstandard or ambiguous for bartending. For consistency purposes, we'll define these terms and units of measurement below:

  • Dash: Approximately 10 single drops are needed.
  • Muddle: A bartending method of lightly mashing fruit, herbs, and spices for cocktails.
  • Pinch: the amount that fits when you squeeze between the finger and thumb or is generally defined as 1/16 teaspoon.
  • Shot: 1.5 oz. There are about 17 shots in a fifth of alcohol, which is the usual liquor bottle size.
  • Strain: To remove various ingredients before serving. It can be used to take the ice out of a shaken beverage or to take the fruit of broken leaves out of a cocktail that has been muddled.
  • Top with: To finish, garnish, or decorate the top of something with another thing
  • Twist: A twist of peel from an orange fruit, wrapped over and into a cocktail (usually left in the drink or on the glass rim)
  • Zest: Remove the colorful fruit peel, leaving the white pith behind.


The amount of liquid in a shot glass is determined by the size of the glass. The majority of shot glasses have a volume of approximately 1.25 to 1.5 ounces, although there is no standard measurement for a shot. In some countries, the shot size is defined differently.

Here is a list of the measurements that are used in various countries:

  • 1 shot in the US = 1.5 oz
  • 1 shot in the UK = 25ml,
  • 1 shot in Australia = 30ml
  • 1 shot in France = 40ml.
  • 1 shot in Germany = .5 to 1.5 oz

List of classic and common cocktail recipes

We've compiled a combination of classic and common cocktails which are well-known in the United States. They are so popular considering that these are often ordered drinks. And because of that, the majority of these cocktails every bartender should know are simple and provide a wonderful opportunity to learn about the bar.

#1. Margarita Recipe

The Margarita is a popular cocktail in North America. However, its drink's origin is less certain. The classic Margarita combines the tang of lime and the sweetness of orange liqueur with the distinctive strength of tequila to create a perfect blend. Any day is a wonderful day to sip a margarita, and it's especially true on Cinco de Mayo.

Margarita Ingredients

  • 2 oz tequila
  • 1/2 oz orange liqueur
  • 1-oz lime juice, freshly squeezed
  • 1/2 oz agave syrup
  • Garnish: lime wheel, kosher salt (optional)

Procedure for Making a Margarita

  1. Prepare a salted rim (wrap the rim of a glass in salt)
  2. Combine tequila, orange, liqueur, lime juice, and agave syrup to a cocktail shaker filled with ice, and shake until well-chilled.
  3. Strain into a rock glass or old-fashioned glass over fresh ice.
  4. Use lime slice for garnish

Tips for Making a Margarita

  • Shake, never stir, a margarita
  • Always use 100% agave tequila

#2. Martini Recipe

The Martini is one of the classic cocktails. It's as traditional as it gets when it comes to cocktails. The classic Martini contains equal parts of gin, dry and sweet vermouth; however, not all Martini are made alike.

Martini Ingredients

  • 2 ounces gin
  • 1/2 ounce dry vermouth
  • 1/2 ounce sweet vermouth
  • Use lemon twist or olives for garnish

Procedure for Making a Martini

  1. Prepare all the ingredients.
  2. Pour the gin and both vermouths into a mixing glass containing ice.
  3. Give it a good stir for at least 30 seconds.
  4. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with an olive or lemon twist

Tips for Making a Martini

  • Shaking gin with dry vermouth in a cocktail shaker may damage the flavor of the gin, it may give a little bit of bitter taste which is what many people prefer. While, shaking does not bruise vodka, and it retains its flavor after shaking.
  • Shaking with ice causes melted water to combine with vodka or gin, diluting the drink.
  • Prepare a chilled cocktail glass and make sure to chill all alcohol before making a martini.
  • Use high-quality vodka or gin to achieve the finest flavor

#3. Old Fashioned Recipe

The old-fashioned cocktail is one of the true classics. This drink has been around since the early 1800s, long before the words classic and a cocktail was ever used in conjunction with one another. It's a cocktail created for whiskey lovers, and it's made with whiskey, sugar, Angostura bitters, and an orange peel (or maraschino cherry) for garnish.

Old Fashioned Ingredients

  • 1.5 oz. bourbon or rye whiskey
  • 1 sugar cube
  • 2 dashes of Angostura bitters
  • 1 teaspoon water
  • 1 orange slice or cocktail cherry

Procedure for Making an Old Fashioned

  1. In an old-fashioned glass, put the sugar cube and cover it with Angostura bitters.
  2. Add a spoonful of water and muddle until the sugar cube dissolves.
  3. Fill a glass halfway with ice and then add whiskey.
  4. Garnish with an orange slice and optional cherry

Tips for Making an Old Fashioned

  • The classic version includes bourbon, but other types of whiskey, such as rye whiskey, scotch, and brandy are frequently used in place of it because they lack the vanilla and caramel tones that bourbon has become famous for.
  • If sugar cubes aren't available or there isn't enough time or room to muddle, .75 oz. simple syrup can be substituted for the sugar cube.

#4. Bloody Mary Recipe

The Bloody Mary is the world's most popular savory drink, and with a balance of sweet, salty, sour, and umami tastes that no other beverage can match.

Bloody Mary Ingredients

  • 2 oz. vodka
  • 4 oz. tomato juice
  • 2 tablespoon ground horseradish
  • 2 dashes of Tabasco sauce
  • 2 dashes of Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 pinch of ground black pepper
  • 1 pinch of smoked paprika
  • Celery salt
  • Garnish: parsley sprig
  • Garnish: green olives
  • Garnish: lime wedge
  • Garnish: celery stalk

Procedure for Making a Bloody Mary

  1. Sprinkle some celery salt onto a small plate.
  2. Rub the lemon slice or lime wedge's juicy side along the lip of a pint glass.
  3. Roll the outer edge with salt until evenly coated. Fill a chilled glass halfway with ice and set it aside.
  4. Squeeze the lemons and limes into a shaker and add them in.
  5. Combine all ingredients - add the vodka, tomato juice, horseradish, Tabasco sauce, Worcestershire sauce, black pepper, paprika, plus a pinch of celery salt along with ice. Shake them gently.
  6. Strain into the prepared highball glass.
  7. Garnish the serving glass with parsley sprig, green olives, a lime wedge, and a celery stalk (optional).

Tips for Making a Bloody Mary

  • You may use any hot sauce, however, Tabasco is the preferred option.
  • Garnishes can be anything, including cheese, pickled vegetables, and meat sticks.
  • For the best possible guest experience, serve with a sidecar of beer.

#5. Gin and Tonic Recipe

The gin and tonic is a popular cocktail that is easy to make and both light and tasty. It's a simple mixed drink that just calls for the two specified ingredients and a dash of lime, all of which are natural flavor partners. This is a fantastic beverage for happy hour, dinner, or any other time you just want something refreshing.

Gin and Tonic Ingredients

  • 2 ounces gin
  • 4 to 6 ounces of tonic water, to taste
  • Use lime wedge or slices, for garnish
  • Ice cubes

Procedure for Making a Gin and Tonic

  1. In a highball glass, add ice and gin.
  2. In a highball glass filled with ice cubes, combine the gin and tonic.
  3. Gently stir to combine, but not so much so that you lose carbonation.
  4. Garnish with a lime wedge or lime slices, and serve.

Tips for Making a Gin and Tonic

  • A lime wedge is usually served with gin and tonic, and it's a great way to add a hint of citrus. Squeeze the juice into the drink by running the wedge along the edge of the glass, then dropping in the wedge.
  • Use newly opened bottles of well-chilled tonic for the best result.

#6. Kamikaze Recipe

The kamikaze is a long-standing bar drink that dates back to the mid-20th century. It's one of the most well-known vodkas "martinis" and has a delicious sweet-tart flavor profile that many people enjoy.

This drink combines the wonderful simplicity and synergy of cocktail making with a beautiful balance of lime, orange cordial, and vodka.

Kamikaze Ingredients

  • 1-ounce vodka
  • 1-ounce orange liqueur
  • 1-ounce fresh lime juice (squeezed)
  • Ice cubes
  • Lime wedge

Procedure for Making a Kamikaze

  1. Prepare a chilled rocks glass
  2. In a cocktail shaker, combine vodka, orange liqueur, and fresh lime juice.
  3. Strain the ice cube into a chilled rocks glass and shake.
  4. Garnish with a lime wedge.

Tips for Making a Kamikaze

  • This is a cocktail where you should use the purest vodka available in your bar. Premium vodkas are a type of vodka that is usually enjoyed solo or in a vodka martini.
  • Make sure that the triple sec you're using is of comparable quality to your vodka. Spend a little extra on a high-quality brand.
  • The lime juice that has been freshly squeezed definitely generates a superior flavor. A whole lime may be squeezed directly into the shaker, yielding 1 ounce of juice.

#7. Lemon Drop Recipe

Lemon Drop is the perfect cocktail buddy! It may appear to be sugary, but its sweet-tart flavor is well-balanced. The strong tastes of the vodka and tangy-sweet lemon wedges are complemented by one another, making for a light cocktail to sip.

Lemon Drop Ingredients

  • 2 ounces vodka
  • 1/2 ounce triple sec
  • 1 ounce fresh lemon juice (squeezed)
  • 1-ounce simple syrup
  • Garnish: sugar rim; a twist of lemon

Procedure for Making a Lemon Drop

  1. Set aside a cocktail glass with the rim coated with sugar. (Do this a few minutes ahead so the sugar can dry and stick well to the glass.)
  2. In a shaker, combine the vodka, triple sec, lemon juice, and simple syrup and shake until thoroughly chilled.
  3. Strain into the chilled martini glass.
  4. Garnish with a lemon twist.

Tips for Making a Lemon Drop

Chilled vodka will make the shot go down a bit smoother. Place the bottle in the freezer for an hour or two, or shake a shot with ice and strain it into the glass. It will be slightly diluted by shaking, but not enough to noticeably affect the taste of a shot of pure alcohol.

#8. Long Island Iced Tea Recipe

The Long Island Iced Tea, which became widespread in the 1970s and is still popular today, is a well-liked beverage. It's blended with equal parts vodka, gin, tequila, rum, and triple sec, as well as lime juice, cola soda, and plenty of ice.

Make a batch of this classic cocktail ultimately perfect for a summer party.

Long Island Iced Tea Ingredients

  • ½ ounce vodka
  • ½ ounce gin
  • ½ ounce rum
  • ½ ounce tequila
  • ½ ounce orange liqueur
  • ¾ ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ½ ounce simple syrup
  • 4 ounces cola
  • Ice
  • Lemon wheel for garnish

How to Make a Long Island Iced Tea

  1. In a cocktail shaker, add ice, vodka, gin, rum, tequila, orange liqueur, lemon juice, and simple syrup.
  2. Shake to chill.
  3. Strain into a highball glass over fresh ice.
  4. Add cola.
  5. Garnish with a lime wheel.

#9. Tom Collins Recipe

A Tom Collins is a classic gin drink that is still popular, especially in the summer months when people are seeking a refreshing cocktail. It's fragrant, fizzy, sweet, and lemony. It's prepared by combining gin, lemon juice, simple syrup, and club soda to taste.

Tom Collins Ingredients

  • 2 ounces gin
  • 2 ounces freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1½ ounces simple syrup
  • Ice
  • Club soda to top off
  • Lemon wheel for garnish

Procedure for Making a Tom Collins

  1. In a cocktail shaker, add ice, gin, lemon juice, and simple syrup.
  2. Shake to chill.
  3. Strain into a collins glass over ice cubes.
  4. To complete the cocktail, add club soda.
  5. Garnish with a lemon wheel and enjoy.

#10. Manhattan Recipe

The Manhattan was the most famous cocktail in the world just a few years after it was first created in New York City's Manhattan Club, sometime around 1880. A Manhattan is a darker, sweeter, somewhat more complex version of the classic martini and has been a popular classic for decades.

Manhattan Ingredients

  • 2 ounces bourbon or rye whiskey
  • 1-ounce sweet vermouth
  • Fresh Ice
  • Maraschino cherry for garnish
  • 3 dashes of Angostura or orange bitters

Procedure for Making a Manhattan

  1. In a cocktail mixing glass (or any other sort of glass), combine the whiskey, vermouth, and bitters. Fill the mixing glass halfway with ice and blend for 30 seconds.
  2. Strain into a coupe or martini glass. Garnish with a cherry and serve.

Tips for Making a Manhattan

  • If you like your mixed drinks drier, try the dry Manhattan variation, which uses dry vermouth and a lemon garnish.
  • Manhattan cocktails may also be consumed over ice in an Old Fashioned glass, which allows the beverage to be diluted even more.

#11. Daiquiri Recipe

The original daiquiri is a very basic recipe that only requires three common ingredients. It's also one of the most refreshing cocktails you can make, as well as one of the most essential rum drinks everyone should try at least once.

The daiquiri is a classic rum sour drink, and—much like the martini and margarita—it has also developed into a subfamily of drinks. Many variations take on a variety of flavors, and it's often blended with ice as well.

Daiquiri Ingredients:

  • 3 ounces white rum
  • 1½ ounces freshly squeezed lime juice
  • ½ ounce simple syrup
  • Ice
  • Lime wedge for garnish, optional

Procedure for Making a Daiquiri

  1. Chill a coupe glass.
  2. In a cocktail shaker, add ice, rum, lime juice, and simple syrup.
  3. Shake to chill.
  4. Strain into a chilled coupe glass
  5. Garnish with a lime wedge, if desired.

Tips for Making a Daiquiri

  • If your drink is too tart, add more syrup; if it's too sweet, add more lime.

#12. Piña Colada Recipe

The Piña Colada is one of the world's most well-known summertime drinks and has a cool, sweet flavor. This cocktail is ideal for adding a tropical feel to your next summer party. It is quite simple to prepare and fantastic to enjoy with friends. That's why it's no wonder that it's a hit at beach bars all around the world!

Piña Colada Ingredients

  • 1 1/2 cup ice
  • 1/2 cup diced pineapple, frozen
  • 2 ounces pineapple juice
  • 2 ounces Coco Lopez coconut cream
  • 1 1/2 ounces white rum
  • 1-ounce dark rum
  • Pineapple slices

Procedure for Making a Piña Colada

  1. Combine the rum, cream of coconut and pineapple, and lime juices in a shaker with ice and shake vigorously for 20 to 30 seconds.
  2. Pour into a chilled Hurricane glass over pebble ice.
  3. Serve with a pineapple wedge or pineapple leaf as garnish if desired.

Tips for Making a Pina Colada

  • This rich piña colada will work with any blender. Increase the speed to high and mix for a few minutes. If you're adding more than crushed ice, add it slowly so that the whole mixture blends. You don't need to create a thick, shake-like drink; all you need is something frosty and icy.

Moscow Mule Recipe

The Moscow mule is a wonderful cocktail that is also remarkably easy to make. In the United States, the Moscow Mule is ranked fifth among the most popular mixed drinks. The only ingredients you need to make a great Moscow mule are vodka, ginger beer, and lime juice. To make a proper Moscow Mule, you'll need chilled copper mugs.

This easy-going vodka cocktail is perfect for any event and has a sharp flavor that is energizing and refreshing.

Moscow Mule Ingredients

  • 4 oz. ginger beer
  • 1.5 oz. vodka
  • 1 teaspoon lime juice, freshly squeezed
  • 1 lemon wedge
  • Ice cubes

Procedure for Making a Moscow Mule

  1. Fill a copper mug with ice cubes. Then pour in the vodka and fill with cold ginger beer.
  2. Garnish with a lemon wedge.
  3. Serve with a stirring rod.

Tips for Making a Moscow Mule

  • Choose a spicy, extra-gingery ginger beer to avoid the feeling of a vodka ginger ale
  • Serve the drink in a chilled copper mug

Gimlet Recipe

The Gimlet is one of the classic cocktails made from gin and lime juice, often Rose's Lime Juice. It can also be prepared with vodka, and various variations include fresh lime in addition to Rose's. The gimlet rose to popularity after being mentioned in the Raymond Chandler thriller The Long Goodbye, which was published in 1953.

Make a classic gimlet by mixing gin and lime syrup with plenty of ice and stirring to get the ideal concentration. A delicate and refreshing gin sour mix that's perfect for a dinner party or a quiet evening at home.

Gimlet Ingredients

  • 2 oz. gin
  • 1 oz. lime juice
  • 1 lime wheel

Procedure for Making a Gimlet

  1. Combine together 1 part gin, 1 part lime juice, and ice cubes in a shaker.
  2. Strain into a chilled cocktail or martini glass.
  3. Garnish with a lime wheel, then serve.

Tips for Making a Gimlet

  • For a sweeter drink, use rose's sweetened lime juice in place of the fresh lime juice.
  • The gin may be replaced with vodka to prepare the popular vodka gimlet.

Negroni Recipe

The Negroni is one of the most simple cocktails to prepare at home! It has a little bitterness and sweetness, with a wonderful flavor. This cocktail is purported to have been created in Florence by the dauntless Count Camillo Negroni in the early twentieth century. All you need for the best classic Negroni cocktail is balance: use equal parts gin, vermouth, and Campari, and make the greatest products available to you.

Negroni Ingredients

  • 1 oz. gin
  • 1 oz. Campari
  • 1 oz. sweet vermouth
  • Ice
  • 1 orange peel

Procedure for Making a Negroni

  1. Pour all of the ingredients into a shaker or mixing glass, add ice, and stir for 30 seconds.
  2. Allow it to sit for 30 seconds, then strain it into an ice-filled cocktail glass or an old-fashioned glass if you'd prefer.
  3. Use orange peel as a garnish

Tips for Making a Negroni

  • Rubbing the orange peel on the glass rim is not recommended.
  • Use a full-bodied, bold gin to compete with the very flavorful Campari for a balanced flavor
  • To balance the flavor of the intensely flavorful Campari, use a strong, full-bodied gin.

Manhattan Recipe

This classy whiskey drink has a long and rich history and has endured over the years. The Manhattan cocktail, which dates to the 1870s, is an ancestor of several cocktails that became popular in the 1920s and 1930s. The perfect Manhattan is made with a bracing combination of bourbon or rye whiskey, sweet vermouth, and aromatic bitters.

Manhattan Ingredients

  • 2 oz. rye, bourbon, or rye whiskey
  • .75 oz. sweet vermouth
  • 1 dash Angostura bitters
  • 1 maraschino cherry

Procedure for Making a Manhattan

  1. Pour whiskey, vermouth, and bitters into a cocktail mixing glass.
  2. Add ice cubes and stir until chilled
  3. Strain into a chilled glass
  4. Garnish with a maraschino cherry

Tips for Making a Manhattan

  • Shake with cracked ice to get a better mix; crack the ice cube in the palm of your hand with the back of a bar spoon
  • A maraschino cherry is best, though a lemon twist can be used instead of the cherry for a dressed-down version

Mojito Recipe

Mojitos may appear to be a more modern, trendy drink, but they date back many centuries. The origins of this much-loved cocktail may be found in Cuba, where it was invented in the 16th century. This drink is one of the most popular rum cocktails available today, with a recipe that has spread across the world.

This delightful mixture of rum and mint leaves, sugar, and lime juice, with sparkling water, is ideal for a lighthearted summer beverage! It's delightful, easy to prepare, and very refreshing.

Manhattan Ingredients

  • 1.5 oz. rum
  • 1 oz. lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 6 mint leaves
  • Soda water

Procedure for Making a Mojito

  1. Muddle 4 mint leaves with sugar and lime juice in a mixing glass.
  2. Add rum to a glass half full of crushed ice and mix well.
  3. Fill the collins glass with soda water to top off
  4. Garnish with leftover 2 mint leaves and an optional lime wedge

Tips for Making a Mojito

  • Slap the mint leaves with your hands before putting them in the glass to muddle; it releases the mint leaves’ essential oil
  • Stir gently to avoid mint leaves ripping
  • Use dark rum to create a deeper flavor profile

Gin Fizz Recipe

The combination of acidic juice and fizzy water is the distinguishing characteristic of a fizz, which is a family of cocktails. The cocktail was invented in New Orleans in the 1870s and spread across the United States throughout the first half of the 20th century. It became so popular, in fact, that bars were forced to employ entire shifts of bartenders to produce the stuff.

When you're having guests, serve a sparkling gin fizz cocktail (or two). You may make a refreshing drink with just a few ingredients that remind summer.

Gin Fizz Ingredients

  • 1.75 ounce of gin
  • 1 ounce of lemon juice
  • .75 ounce of simple syrup
  • Club soda, to top (about 1 ounce)
  • 1 egg white (about 1/2 ounce)
  • 1 lemon slice

Procedure for Making a Gin Fizz

  1. Pout all ingredients - the gin, lemon juice, simple syrup, and egg white to a shaker and vigorously dry-shake (without ice) for about 15 seconds.
  2. Add 3 or 4 ice cubes and shake vigorously until well-chilled.
  3. Strain into a chilled Collins glass and top with club soda.
  4. Garnish with lemon slice or twist

Tips for Making a Gin Fizz

  • It's ideal to have more fizz. Shake without ice first, then add the ice and shake again to increase the froth.
  • For the classic gin fizz, add an egg white to the shaker.

More Bartending Basic Advice

  • Summer is a fantastic time to learn the basic bartender cocktail recipes.
  • Learn how to make the basic alcohol-free mocktails that are perfect for drivers.
  • Serve some warming winter cocktails to your customers during the winter months.
  • Explore how to create low-calorie and low-carb cocktails for customers to control their weight.
  • Make Caribbean cocktails and other tropical drinks to enjoy the tropics.
  • Craft cocktails from currently popular brands using trendy ingredients.

How Do Bartenders Master These Essential Cocktails?

There are plenty of cocktails every bartender should explore and practice. And here are a few key tips that any bartender can use to master and make sure they are able to mix these essential cocktails perfectly.

  • They need to have a firm understanding of the basic ingredients that go into each drink.
  • It is crucial to have all of the ingredients measured out and ready to go before starting to mix the drink. This will help ensure that the proportions are correct and that the drink is mixed quickly.
  • They need to be able to do all of this quickly and efficiently. It is important to use a shaker when mixing drinks that contain alcohol. This will help to ensure that the drink is properly mixed and that all of the flavors are properly blended.
  • It is important to be sure to garnish each drink before serving. This will help to make the drink look more appealing and will also give the drinker something to hold on to while enjoying the beverage.

The possibilities are endless! With these tips in mind, bartenders should be able to mix any of the basic drinks and popular cocktails smoothly. They can also check out some of the best bartending books to get more inspiration. They may also add their own personal touches to each drink to make it even more distinctive. With a little practice, they will be able to do this with ease.

See your ROI flourish as you empower your bartenders with the knowledge of these essential cocktail recipes and with a powerful bar management software such as WISK, your bar will definitely be more effective and efficient!


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