15 Classic Cocktails You Need to Learn

15 of my favorite classic cocktail recipes everyone should learn how to make.

Whiskey, gin, vodka, rum, tequila, I’ve got everyone covered right here. Here are 15 of my favorite classic cocktails that are absolutely must-try libations. Before you jump in, here are a few tips on some tools and techniques you’ll need to make classic cocktails the right way.

Old Fashioned Cocktail

1. Old Fashioned Cocktail

The Old Fashioned is a classic cocktail made with whiskey (bourbon), Angostura bitters, orange (or lemon) peel, and a muddled sugar cube. Unfortunately, this isn’t what you’ll get at 90% of restaurants and bars if you order one.

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Last Word Cocktail

2. Last Word Cocktail

The last word is a simple drink consisting of equal parts gin, green chartreuse, maraschino liqueur, and fresh lime juice. It’s a spirit forward cocktail, yet very balanced, citrusy, and refreshing.

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Classic Gin Martini

3. Classic Gin Martini

Your typical gin martini with the addition of orange bitters and a squeeze of fresh lemon peel in place of olives. It’s a classic twist no one ever talks about and I just don’t get it.

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Boulevardier Cocktail

4. Boulevardier Cocktail

Made with bourbon, the Boulevardier is slightly similar to the manhattan in flavor, but a little smoother and more bitter. Campari is an Italian liquor that is red in color and bitter. It adds a similar bitter flavor that is characteristic of a manhattan made with bitters. The fresh lemon peel makes it a citrusy sensation.

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Aviation Cocktail

5. Aviation Cocktail

One of my all time favorite classic cocktails from the early 1900’s. Gin, maraschino liqueur (cherry), crème de violette, and fresh lemon juice. It’s got a slight violet hue and it’s nothing short of amazing when it comes to flavor.

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Manhattan Cocktail

6. Manhattan Cocktail

Who doesn’t love a manhattan right? Dating back to the 19th century, the Manhattan is made with bourbon or rye, sweet vermouth, and bitters.

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Sidecar Cocktail

7. Sidecar Cocktail

The sidecar is a smooth, cognac based drink made with cognac, Cointreau (orange liqueur), and fresh lemon juice. It’s like a more refined whiskey sour, without the egg white.

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Classic Margarita

8. Classic Margarita

A REAL margarita made with lime juice, simple syrup (melted sugar in water), and triple sec. It’s not sickly sweet or full of artificial sweeteners like store-bought margarita mix.

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Mint Julep Cocktail

9. Mint Julep Cocktail

The mint julep is a refreshing, spirit-forward bourbon cocktail with a touch of sweetness and fresh minty flavor. Don’t forget the iconic cup of crushed ice.

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Cosmopolitan Cocktail

10. Cosmopolitan Cocktail

This is the only more modern-day cocktail on this list because every home bartender worth their salt must have this important and classic staple in their repertoire. Traditionally, the cosmo is made with vodka, triple sec, cranberry juice, and fresh lime juice.

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Negroni Cocktail

11. Negroni Cocktail

The classic Negroni recipe is made with equal parts gin, Campari, and sweet vermouth—plus an orange peel ‘garnish’. I like to cheat a little and add orange bitters. It gives the drink a little extra subtle orange flavor making it a tad more refreshing.

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Bee's Knees Cocktail

12. Bee’s Knees Cocktail

The Bee’s Knees cocktail is a Prohibition-Era drink made with gin, lemon juice, and honey syrup (honey and water). It’s a simple classic cocktail, sweetened with real honey and balanced with citrus. It’s really refreshing and perfect for gin lovers.

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Hemingway Daiquiri Cocktail

13. Hemingway Daiquiri Cocktail

The Daiquiri is a classic cocktail that dates back to Cuba over 100 years ago. It’s made with rum, fresh lime juice, and sugar. The Hemingway Daiquiri poses two very important differences with the addition of Maraschino liqueur and fresh grapefruit juice. It’s all the better.

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Sazerac Cocktail

14. Sazerac Cocktail

The official cocktail of New Orleans. The Sazerac is an interesting combo of rye whiskey (I like Sazerac Rye), sugar (simple syrup), absinthe, and lemon peel, all pulled together by Peychaud’s bitters. The bitters gives the cocktail a distinct reddish hue and floral aroma.

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French 75 Cocktail

15. French 75 Cocktail

The French 75 cocktail is a classic libation that consists of gin, champagne/prosecco, simple syrup, and fresh lemon juice. The cocktail dates back to 1915 when it earned its name for packing a punch like a 75mm artillery gun from World War I.

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