Good bartenders pride themselves on being knowledgeable about cocktail recipes and proficient in the art of properly serving their guests and patrons. With a healthy repertoire of popular mixed drink recipes and the right ingredients at your fingertips, you can be the life of any gathering.

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A basic bar setup for a limited budget

Setting up a home bar can become quite costly. The variety of liquors available today is mind-boggling. How do you pare down your shopping list to the essentials? Some bartenders may scoff at the idea of not having both American and Canadian whiskies in a bar. And do you really need both dry and sweet vermouth? The options can be overwhelming. For simple entertaining, even if you’re on a limited budget, start with the following items:

One 750 ml bottle of gin One 750 ml bottle of whiskey (Bourbon, Canadian, and so on)
One 750 ml bottle of rum One 750 ml bottle of white domestic wine
One 750 ml bottle of tequila One 750 ml bottle of red domestic wine
One 750 ml bottle of vodka Twelve 12-oz. bottles of beer (domestic or imported)
Three 750 ml bottles of the liqueurs and cordials of your choice (such as Irish cream, coffee liqueur, Grand Marnier, triple sec, Cointreau, Sambuca, white or green crème de menthe, Galliano, B&B, Frangelico, amaretto, peach schnapps, and so on)

Supplies for any contingency

If you want to be able to serve just about anything your guests might desire, you’ll need a lot of supplies, mixers, and garnishes. In addition to beer, wine, liquors, and liqueurs, a decent home bar should have the following supplies if you plan on serving a variety of cocktails. You need one bottle of the following mixers for every five guests:

Cola or diet cola Lime juice
Cranberry juice Orange juice
Ginger ale Pineapple juice
Grapefruit juice Seltzer water or club soda
Lemon juice or lemon mix Tomato juice
Lemon-Lime soda Tonic water

You also need these fruits, garnishes, and seasonings:

Lemon twists Angostura bitters
Lime and lemon wedges Salt and pepper
Maraschino cherries Superfine sugar
Olives Tabasco sauce
Orange slices Worcestershire sauce

Classic cocktail recipes that are great for all occasions

The cocktail recipes listed here are classics for a reason: They taste good. Whether you’re a professional bartender or just someone who likes to throw cocktail parties at home, you should know how to make these mixed drinks recipes like you know how to make toast.

Bacardi cocktail

Bacardi cocktail is the only cocktail issued a copyright from the United States government.

  • 2 oz. Bacardi Light Rum

  • 1 oz. Rose’s Lime Juice

  • 1/2 tsp Sugar

  • 1/2 oz. Rose Grenadine

Mix in a shaker with ice and strain into a chilled martini glass.

Brandy Alexander

A sweet and creamy delight. A favorite to all until Baileys came around.

  • 1-1/2 oz. Brandy or Cognac

  • 1/2 oz. Dark Crème de Cacao

  • 1 oz. Sweet Cream or Ice Cream

Shake all ingredients with ice. Strain into a Margarita glass.

Bloody Mary

This cocktail is probably the most famous of the “Hair of the Dog” morning-after concoctions.

  • 1-1/4 oz. Vodka

  • 2-1/2 oz. Tomato Juice

  • dash Worcestershire Sauce

  • dash Tabasco Sauce

  • dash Salt and Pepper

Pour Vodka over ice in a tall glass. Fill with Tomato Juice. Add a dash or two of Worcestershire Sauce and Tabasco Sauce. Stir and garnish with a Celery Stalk. For those who enjoy their Bloody Marys extremely spicy, add more Tabasco or even Horseradish.


The most popular drink of the new millennium.

  • 2 oz. Vodka

  • 1/2 oz. Cointreau

  • Juice of 1/2 Lime

  • 1/2 oz. Cranberry Juice

Shake with ice and strain into a chilled martini glass.


If you make this cocktail correctly, you’ll never hear your guests utter this classic line from The Simpsons: “What did I do to deserve this flat, flavorless Manhattan?”

  • 2 oz. American or Canadian Whisky

  • splash Sweet or Dry Vermouth

  • dash Angostura Bitters

Stir ingredients in a rocks glass. Garnish with a Cherry.


A great drink for a hot summer day.

  • 1 oz. Tequila

  • 1 oz. Cointreau or Triple Sec

  • 1 oz. Sweet & Sour Mix or Lime Juice

Shake ingredients with ice or blend ingredients with crushed ice. Serve in a salt-rimmed glass. Garnish with a Lime Wheel.


A simple and elegant classic.

  • 2 oz. Gin

  • dash Extra Dry Vermouth

Shake or stir Gin and Vermouth with ice. Strain and serve in a cocktail glass straight up or over ice. Garnish with a twist or an Olive.

Tequila Sunrise

You will have a warm summer glow after this one!

  • 2 oz. Patrón Tequila

  • 3 oz. Orange Juice

  • 1/4 oz. Grenadine

Pour Grenadine into a tall glass first. Then add Tequila and fill with ice and Orange Juice. Garnish with an Orange Slice

White Russian

If you’re worried about calories, you can use whole milk or half-and-half rather than cream, but cream tastes better. Skim and 2-percent milk produce unsatisfactory results. The Dude in The Big Lebowski settled for nondairy creamer powder in one scene; that option is for emergencies only.

  • 1-1/2 oz. Vodka

  • 1/2 oz. Kahlúa

  • 1/2 oz. Cream

Shake ingredients and serve over ice in a rocks glass.

About This Article

This article is from the book:

About the book author:

Ray Foley is the founder and editor of BARTENDER Magazine. A consultant to some of the United States’ top distillers and importers, he is responsible for creating and naming new drinks for the liquor industry.

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