Whether you host a themed get together or a formal dinner party, there’s nothing quite like a classic cocktail on the menu to sip and savor. The best part about cocktails? They don’t always have to wait until after dinner!
From fruity and fun to light and refreshing, here are 15 of the most popular cocktails and their recipes to serve up at your next cocktail party.
Originating in Havana, Cuba, the mojito is a delicious and refreshing cocktail made with rum, fresh lime juice, mint leaves, sugar and sparkling water. It is said that the original mojito was a medicinal remedy developed by South American Indians for various tropical illnesses.
If you’re looking for a delicious minty drink to cool down on a hot day or to serve at your next beach themed party, a mojito fits the bill! Try my easy strawberry mojito for a refreshing twist!
- 1 part white rum
- 2 parts sparkling water
- 1 part fresh lime juice
- 8 mint leaves, plus more for garnish
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- In a Collins glass or mason jar, combine white rum, lime juice, sparkling water, mint leaves, and sugar.
- Muddle the mint leaves using a muddler (or gently crush them with the back of a spoon) to release their flavor.
- Fill the glass with ice cubes and stir well until the sugar is dissolved and all the flavors are combined.
- Garnish with fresh mint leaves and serve immediately. Enjoy!
The Cosmopolitan is a classic but high end cocktail made with vodka, cranberry juice, fresh lime juice and Cointreau.
There are several different versions of the cosmopolitan history. One of the more popular stories is that a bartender by the name of Neal Murray created the cocktail at the Cork & Cleaver steakhouse in Minneapolis in 1975.
According to this story, the drink received its name when Murray added a splash of cranberry to a Kamikaze cocktail and the first person to taste it said, “How cosmopolitan.”
Its simplicity yet light, fruity flavor makes it one of the most popular cocktails to have at a cocktail party or for a post-dinner drink.
- 1½ oz vodka
- ¾ oz cranberry juice
- ½ oz fresh lime juice
- ½ oz Cointreau or triple sec
- Combine all ingredients in a shaker filled with ice.
- Shake well and strain into a chilled martini glass.
- Garnish with a lime twist.
Made with gin and vermouth, the martini is one of the most popular cocktails since the early 1900s. It is most commonly linked to the Italian bartender, Martini di Arma di Taggia, who claimed to have concocted the drink at the Knickerbocker Hotel in New York City before WWI.
This classic drink can be served either straight or on the rocks. It can also be made “dirty” by adding olive brine to the cocktail.
- ½ oz Dry Vermouth
- 3 oz Gin
- Pour all ingredients into a mixing glass with ice cubes. Stir well.
- Strain into a chilled martini glass.
- Garnish with a green olive.
The Negroni is an Italian cocktail made with gin, sweet red vermouth, and Campari. It is considered an aperitivo and generally served before a meal to stimulate the appetite.
It is believed that this cocktail was invented when Count Camillo Negroni ordered an Americano at the Caffè Casoni in Florence. He asked for gin in place of soda water and the drink turned out to be a success. Not long after in 1919, the Negroni family founded the Negroni distillery, where they produced a ready-to-drink version of the cocktail called Antico Negroni.
- 1 oz Campari
- 1 oz Gin
- 1 oz Sweet Red Vermouth
- Combine all ingredients in a shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously until well combined and chilled.
- Strain into a rocks glass over fresh ice.
- Garnish with an orange twist.
Citrusy and low in alcohol, the Aperol is a light and spritzy apertivo that you will certainly want to add to your go-to cocktail list! It became one of the most popular cocktails in the 20th century.
A “spritz” generally refers to a wine-based cocktail made by adding a splash of soda to a bitter liquor. Aperol, an orange-red liquor invented in 1919, is one of the most popular go-to mixers. This cocktail can also be made with other brands such as Campari and Cynar which share similar flavors and colors.
- 3 oz Prosecco
- 2 oz Aperol
- 1 oz club soda
- In a wine glass filled with ice, combine the Prosecco, Aperol and club soda.
- Garnish with an orange slice, if desired. Serve immediately.
Do you love black raspberry or cognac? Check out these chambord flavored cocktails!
Before advanced bartending techniques changed the cocktail scene at the end of the 19th century, the old-fashioned was the most popular cocktail to order.
It is made by combining whiskey with muddled sugar, bitters and water before garnishing with an orange slice or zest and a cocktail cherry.
There are many stories about where exactly the Old-fashioned was originated, but it is said to have been invented prior to the 1860s and later “repackaged” with different proportions and referred to as “old-fashioned.”
- 1 ½ oz Bourbon or Rye Whiskey
- 1 sugar cube
- 2 dashes Angostura bitters
- Plain water
- Place sugar cube in an old fashioned glass and saturate with bitters.
- Add a dash of plain water and muddle until dissolved.
- Fill the glass with ice cubes and add whiskey.
- Garnish with an orange slice or zest and a cocktail cherry.
If you love whiskey, you will love my Summer Whiskey Cocktail.
The margarita is a very well known drink and one of the most popular cocktails served at Mexican restaurants and during Cinco de Mayo celebrations. A simple cocktail made with tequila, Cointreau and lime juice, it is served either frozen or on the rocks.
While tequila has its origin in the Mexican city of Tequila, Jalisco, the true origin of the Margarita cocktail is still a mystery. However, it is commonly believed to be named after a woman by the name of “Margarita” in the 1940s.
- 1 oz Cointreau
- 1 oz Lime juice
- 2 oz Tequila
- Rub the rim of the glass with lime juice and gently dip it into a plate of salt so that the salt sticks.
- Shake the liquid ingredients with ice, then carefully pour into a margarita glass (being careful not to dislodge the salt).
- Garnish and serve over ice (if served on the rocks).
Making a larger batch? Check out my recipe for margarita pitchers!
The Manhattan is a classic and popular cocktail created in 1894 by a bartender at the Waldorf Astoria in New York City. Its main and defining ingredient is scotch whiskey as opposed to the traditional rye or bourbon whiskey used in Old-Fashioned cocktails. It is usually served before dinner.
- 2 oz bourbon or rye whiskey
- ¾ oz sweet vermouth
- 1 dash Angostura bitters (optional)
- In a mixing glass filled with ice, combine all ingredients and stir vigorously until well combined and chilled.
- Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
- Garnish with a maraschino cherry, if desired.
Daiquiris have been around for more than a century and has had many different variations over the years. The classic daiquiri is made with rum, citrus juice and sugar, and served straight up. However, daiquiris are also commonly served frozen and with other fruity flavors such as Strawberry, Mango and Banana.
Daiquiris are said to have been invented in 1898 by American engineer Jennings Stockton Cox in the Cuban town of Daiquiri. It is one of the six drinks in David A. Embury’s classic book, The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks, and has been among the most popular cocktails since its invention.
- 1 ½ oz White Rum
- 1 oz Lime Juice
- ½ oz Simple Syrup
- Lime, for garnish
- Pour all ingredients into a shaker with ice cubes. Shake well.
- Strain in a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with half a lime.
The Whiskey Sour is a classic cocktail dating back to the 1860s. It is a citrusy mixture of whiskey, lemon juice, sugar and an optional dash of egg white.
The whiskey sour became popular when sailors would take large amounts of citrus fruits on voyages. The fruits mixed great with the whiskey and bourbon that the sailors had on board. Not only was the combination a great thirst quencher, but it was also used to combat scurvy.
It is also called a Boston Sour when egg white is added or a Scotch Sour when scotch is used in place of Bourbon. Or try a twist on this and make my Aperol Sour.
- 1 ½ oz Bourbon whisky
- 1 dash egg white (optional)
- 1 oz Fresh lemon juice
- ½ oz Gomme syrup
- Combine ingredients in a shaker with ice. Shake until mixed well.
- Strain into an ice-filled old-fashioned glass. Garnish with a lemon rind, Maraschino cherry or orange slice.
The Moscow Mule is a cool and refreshing cocktail made with vodka, spicy ginger beer and lime juice. It is commonly served in a copper mug, which helps to insulate the temperature and keep the drink cooler even longer.
The Moscow Mule was invented in 1941 when John Martin, president of alcoholic beverage distributor Heublein, met up with Jack Morgan, owner of the Cock ‘n’ Bull pub on the Sunset Strip. Martin tried to persuade Americans to drink his Smirnoff vodka. Meanwhile, Morgan made a ginger beer drinkers were equally uninterested in. It was then that the popular cocktail was born.
- 1 ½ oz Vodka
- ⅙ oz Lime juice
- 4 oz Ginger Beer
- Combine vodka and ginger beer in a copper mug (recommended) or highball glass filled with ice.
- Add lime juice. Stir and garnish with a lime slice.
The Paloma isn’t just delicious and refreshing, but it is also very quick and easy to make! It is made with tequila, lime juice and a grapefruit flavored soda such as Squirt, Fresca or Jarritos. You can also add a splash of club soda for a less sweet taste.
It is believed that this delicious cocktail was created by the owner and bartender of La Capilla in Tequila, Mexico by the legendary Don Javier Delgado Corona. Its name comes from La Paloma (“the dove” in Spanish), a popular folk song from the 1860s.
- 1 part tequila
- 3 parts grapefruit soda
- Stir all ingredients together and serve over ice.
- Garnish with a lime and enjoy!
Love vodka drinks? Check out the best vodka mixers to create the best cocktails!
The Mai Tai has been one of the most popular cocktails since its invention in 1944. In fact, it is so popular that it is said to have depleted world rum supplies in the 1940s and 1950s! This refreshing and tropical cocktail is made with rum, Curaçao or Cointreau liqueur, grenadine, pineapple juice and lime juice.
If you love tropical drinks, try my Liquid Marijuana or Hurricane Cocktail.
A characteristic cocktail in the Tiki culture, it is said to have been invented by Trader Vic, owner of a tiki restaurant of the same name. He created the cocktail when mixed together the tropical flavors to offset the rich and pungent flavor of a 17-year-old bottle of J rum.
- 2 parts rum
- ¾ part sweetened lime juice
- ½ part Triple Sec or Cointreau
- A splash of grenadine
- 2 parts pineapple juice
- 1 maraschino cherry and lime wedge for garnish
- In a cocktail shaker, combine rum, sweetened lime juice, Triple Sec or Cointreau, grenadine, and pineapple juice.
- Fill the shaker with ice and shake vigorously until well mixed and frosty.
- Strain into a hurricane glass or highball glass filled with ice.
- Garnish with a cherry and lime wedge and serve immediately.
✈️Looking for something more unique? Try this delicious Paper Plane drink that uses bourbon and aperol!
Originally named the “Adam’s Apple” martini, the apple martini is a delicious and sweet cocktail made with vodka and one or more of apple juice, apple cider, apple liquor or apple brandy.
The drink was originally invented under its former name in 1972 when a popular magazine placed an ad inside of the front cover. The recipe back then was quite basic, with just vodka and apple juice. However, it was re-invented in 1997 by bartender Adam Karsten in the Los Angeles restaurant, Lola’s. It is also called the “Appletini”.
- 1 ½ oz Vodka
- ½ Apple Schnapps
- ½ oz Cointreau or triple sec
- Mix all ingredients together in a shaker and pour into a chilled cocktail glass.
- Garnish with an apple slice or maraschino cherry.
If you love Sunday brunch, you’re probably very familiar with the Bloody Mary cocktail as it is one of the most popular brunch cocktails.
The original version of the cocktail is often credited to a young bartender by the name of Fernand Petiot who created it in the 1920s at the Harry’s New York Bar in Paris. Its primary ingredients are vodka and tomato juice, however you can enhance it to your liking with a variety of spices, flavorings and delicious garnishes.
- 1 ½ oz Vodka
- ½ oz Lemon Juice
- 3 oz Tomato Juice
- Tabasco Sauce
- Other spices, flavorings and garnishes as desired
Tried the recipe? I'd love to hear your thoughts below!