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12 of The Best Cocktails for Beginners

May 24, 2022 by Louisa Davies

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If you are new to entertaining but still keen to make a splash, our list of the best cocktails for beginners is a great place to start. We’ve rounded up some seriously delicious, good-looking drinks that leave a lasting impression while being deceptively simple to make. In short – everything you need to pour like a pro even when you are fresh to the cocktail game. Here you go! 

1. Aperol Spritz cocktail

Bright aperol spritz on ice

The easy-peasy Aperol Spritz is a sip of Italian summer in a glass. Golden orange like a sunset over calm waters, it contains Aperol, Prosecco, soda water, and a slice of orange in a wine glass with ice. It’s really as simple as that. 

2. Old Fashioned cocktail

Old fashioned cocktail with cherry and orange peel garnish

The best easy cocktails to try when you are just starting out don’t have to be simple in flavour. Take the Old Fashioned cocktail, for instance. Even though it originated in the late 1800s, the ingredients haven’t changed much. You still only need your favourite whiskey or bourbon, sugar, bitters, and water to create this iconic amber-coloured drink that conjures up images of leather armchairs, smoky gentlemen’s clubs, and scenes from the popular TV drama, Mad Men.   

3. Bloody Mary cocktail

Bloody Mary cocktail. Alcoholic drink with vodka in a glass

As far as basic cocktail recipes go, the classic Bloody Mary recipe could not be simpler to prepare. Fair enough, the ingredients list is fairly long – it contains vodka, tomato juice, horseradish, Tabasco sauce, Worcestershire sauce, pickle juice, salt, pepper, and paprika (optional) – but most of these are actually pantry staples. Plus, the assembly isn’t too finicky. You simply shake it up with ice (twice if you’re feeling fancy) and strain it into a glass.  

4. Pina Colada cocktail

Virgin Pina Colada

One of the best easy cocktails to make at home, a Pina Colada is a delicious tropical treat that tastes like an island breeze, infused with the heady scent of pineapple and coconut. When blended, the texture is like a smoothie. Over ice, it’s rich, thick, and lovely from start to finish. 

5. Mojito cocktail

Close up of refreshing Mojito with fresh mint and lime

The classic Mojito cocktail is pretty as a picture and refreshing to boot. Fizzy and minty with a zesty dash of lime, it pairs well with warm-weather dishes like prawns, shrimp, and fish tacos.  Plus, all you need to make it is some white rum, sugar or sugar syrup, soda water, lime juice, and fresh mint leaves. 

6. Cosmopolitan cocktail

Refreshing Cold Pink Cosmopolitan Cocktail

The best beginner cocktails are normally on the sweeter end of the spectrum since they are so effortless to enjoy. For the best Cosmopolitan recipe, you will need citrus-infused SKYY vodka, Grand Marnier orange liqueur, lime and cranberry juice, and an orange peel to garnish. These ingredients blend well together, creating a refreshing drink that has a little citrusy sweetness balanced by the lovely sharpness of the lime.    

7. Dirty Martini cocktail

Dirty Martini garnished with olives

It is said that the Dirty Martini recipe had its origins in New York in 1901 when bartender John O’Connor decided to take the olive garnish of the Classic Martini one step further. At first, the olive was muddled into the drink, but these days we go a little further by adding a splash of olive brine or olive juice. As such, it’s one of those classic 3-ingredient cocktails that really allow the ingredients to shine. 

8. Long Island Iced Tea cocktail

Long island iced tea alcohol cocktail drink beverage, long drink in a glass with straw, ice and lime on a dark table.

Cocktail trends come and go, but the Long Island Iced Tea recipe has endured the test of time. In fact, it’s been a big part of the worldwide cocktail culture for decades. It’s a sneaky drink that is strong and tasty. Vodka, white rum, tequila, gin, and orange liqueur make up the base of this famous party cocktail, topped with a splash of cola and sour mix. 

Even though there are quite a few ingredients involved, it’s still simple to prepare – you add the ingredients to a Collins glass filled with ice, add the splash of cola, and stir. As such, it’s actually a great basic cocktail recipe to know. 

9. Gin Martini cocktail

Gin Martini garnished with olives

The Gin Martini recipe calls for three basic ingredients, namely gin, vermouth, and a splash of bitters if you prefer. The gin forms the base of the cocktail, setting a smooth, cool stage for the vermouth and bitters to take a bow. Vermouth itself is subtly sweet and spicy, with a hint of bitterness on the finish, which ties in nicely with the clove and cinnamon that underpins the bold taste of the bitters.   

10. Moscow Mule cocktail

Moscow mule cocktail in copper cup with lime, ginger beer, vodka and mint garnish

If you’ve ever seen someone sipping a cocktail from one of those fancy-looking copper mugs, odds are it’s a Moscow Mule. A classic cocktail with a long history, it’s surprisingly not from Russia but, instead, from the United States, originating in 1940s New York. There are 3 main ingredients that make up the Moscow Mule cocktail recipe: vodka, lime juice, and ginger beer. Lime wedges and mint leaves are often used as garnishes to make the drink even more refreshing and aromatic, and the copper mug for serving is totally optional.  

11. Lime Margarita cocktail

Lime Margarita Mexican cocktails

The classic Lime Margarita recipe features tequila as a spirit base, along with orange liqueur. However, you can also make an alcohol-free version of the drink if you wish. Simply combine orange juice, lime juice, agave syrup, and club soda for a refreshing non-alcoholic cocktail.

12. Highball cocktail

Image of Highball Cocktails garnished with lemon wedges

A Whiskey Highball is one of the easiest two-ingredient cocktails, combining 2 ounces of whiskey and 4 – 6 ounces of club soda on ice in a tall glass. This is what makes it one of the best cocktails for beginners! When your ingredients are fewer, it leaves you with some room to focus on technique and presentation, you see.

FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS

Two-ingredient cocktails are nice for beginners to try at home because they allow you to taste the ingredients and learn what you like. Sip, savour and get to know your palate in time. 

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