The best cocktail recipes to try at home

Learn how to make all the classic cocktails in your own kitchen

Updated on 18 June 2019 • Written By Tonje Odegard

The best cocktail recipes to try at home

Got a dinner party coming up and looking to impress your guests with some ace cocktails as well as your cooking? Or do you just want to show off at the next house party or barbecue? Either way, below are instructions on how to whip up crowd-pleasing cocktails, including ingredients, method and suggested serves and garnishes.

If you have on-the-wagon guests to cater to as well, why not check out our list of the best non-alcoholic drinks to make too?

Gin cocktail recipes 

Gin is an incredibly versatile spirit to use for cocktails because of its botanicals. It's also hugely popular at the moment, so jump on the band wagon and try one of these easy-to-make, but visually pleasing and delicious gin cocktails. 

Martini

The classic Martini has been perpetuated thanks to Ian Fleming, who made it James Bond’s signature drink. Whether shaken or stirred, a Martini is actually not that difficult to whizz up and it’s worth noting you can use vodka for it too, if you prefer.

Serves: 4

Ready in: 5mins

Suggested serve: Classic Martini glass

Garnish: Either a lemon twist or olive

Ingredients

  • 240ml Portobello Road gin or vodka
  • 4tbsp dry vermouth
  • Olive or lemon peel, to garnish
  • Ice

Method

  1. Either stir your choice of gin or vodka together with the vermouth and a little ice in a cocktail shaker or… shake it
  2. Strain it into a chilled Martini glass and serve with your choice of either an olive in the bottom of the glass or a lemon twist hanging on the side of the glass

 

Gin and Tonic

A GT is another classic, but a classic you can have a little mess with and bring your own interpretation to. You can really go to town when it comes to personalising a gin and tonic by experimenting with flavoured gins, different tonic waters and exciting garnishes. Below is a basic recipe – we’ll leave the rest up to you.

Serves: 4

Ready in: 2mins

Suggested serve: Gin goblet

Garnish: Lemon peel twist

Ingredients

  • Ice cubes
  • 4 lemon wedges
  • 240ml Silent Pool gin
  • Lemon twist, to garnish
  • Fever Tree tonic water, to top

Method

  1. Fill your glasses halfway with ice cubes and place the lemon wedge on top
  2. Pour in the gin and fill the rest of the glass with tonic water
  3. Garnish with a lemon twist

 

Pimm's

Noting encapsulates the British summer more than a jug of chilled Pimm's filled to the rim with gorgeous fruit. Making it couldn’t be easier, if you don’t mind chopping fruit for a while.  

Serves: 4

Ready in: 10mins

Suggested serve: Fill up a pitcher and serve in high ball glasses

Garnish: Strawberries

Ingredients

  • Diced oranges
  • Quartered strawberries
  • Sliced cucumber
  • Ice cubes
  • 200ml Pimm's
  • 600ml lemonade
  • Mint leaves

Method

  1. Chop the fruit and cucumber, and add to a pitcher with some ice cubes, leaving some strawberries to garnish the glasses
  2. Add Pimms followed by the lemonade, and then the mint leaves, and stir well'

 

Negroni

The Negroni, although a classic Italian cocktail, has had somewhat of a revival of late, and we can understand why. Sophisticated and grown-up in flavour, it is the epitome of cool.

Serves: 4

Ready in: 5mins

Suggested serve: Old Fashion glass

Garnish: Orange twist

Ingredients

  • 120ml London Dry Gin
  • 120ml Campari
  • 120ml Vermouth Rosso
  • Orange peel
  • Ice cubes

Method

  1. Stir gin, Campari and Vermouth in a cocktail shaker
  2. Run the orange peel along the rim of the glasses and fill them with ice cubes
  3. Fill the glasses with the liquid and place the orange twist on top to garnish

  

Vodka cocktail recipes

Because of its clean, crisp flavour, vodka lends itself wonderfully to cocktail making, allowing the other ingredients to elevate its taste components. For some added boost, go for flavoured variants and make some of these classic vodka-based cocktails.

Cosmopolitan

You can’t fail to feel like the girls in Sex & The City while sipping on a sophisticated Cosmo – perhaps invest in some Manolo Blahniks as well. Release your inner Carrie Bradshaw and impress your guests with this classic cocktail.

Serves: 4

Ready in: 5mins

Suggested serve: Martini glass

Garnish: Lemon twist (optional)

Ingredients

  • Ice
  • 180ml Lemon vodka
  • 60ml Triple Sec
  • 120ml cranberry juice
  • 40ml lime juice

Method

  1. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice and pour in all the ingredients
  2. Strain into a chilled Martini glass
  3. The Cosmo looks best with no garnish, but if you’re feeling fancy (Manolos or not), add a lemon twist

 

White Russian

Made cool by cult film The Big Lebowski, a White Russian has become a favourite among many. The sweet Kahlua-based cocktail is easy-peasy to make in your own kitchen and looks even cooler served casually in one of your kitchen glasses.

Serves: 4

Ready in: 5 mins

Suggested serve: Old-school kitchen glass

Garnish: No garnish needed

Ingredients

  • 240ml vodka
  • 8tbsp Kahlua
  • 2tbsp cream
  • Ice cubes

Method

  1. Pop a couple of ice cubes in the glasses and pour in equal measures of the vodka, followed by Kahlua
  2. Take a tablespoon and turn it upside down and slowly pour the cream into the glass over the spoon. This should create the explosive look of the cream hitting the booze.

 

Pornstar Martini

Despite the vulgar name, this cocktail is sweet, fruity and zingy – the perfect tropical drink. It also has the added fun of a shot of Prosecco being served on the side, which you can re-enact at home if you so desire.

Serves: 4

Ready in: 5mins

Suggested serve: Martini glass

Garnish: Passion fruit halves

Ingredients

  • 4 ripe passion fruits
  • 120ml vanilla vodka
  • 60ml passoa
  • 2tbsp lime juice
  • 2tbsp sugar syrup
  • Prosecco

Method

  1. Scoop the seeds from two of the passion fruits into a cocktail shaker and add all the remaining liquids minus the Prosecco, plus some ice
  2. Shake well and strain into the glasses
  3. Top with Prosecco and garnish with half a passion fruit on top

 

Bloody Mary

A Bloody Mary is so much more than the nation’s favourite Hair of the Dog cocktail. Yes, it is amazing at curing hangovers, but its rich ingredients mean it’s got a real kick for any situation. The great things about Bloody Marys is that you can make it as spicy as you want, depending on how hungover you are…   

Serves: 4

Ready in: 4mins

Suggested serve: Pint glass

Garnish: Celery sticks

Ingredients

  • A couple handfuls of ice
  • 200ml vodka
  • 1ltr tomato juice
  • 2tbsp lemon juice
  • Worcestershire sauce
  • Tabasco
  • Black pepper
  • 4 sticks celery, to garnish
  • 4 slices lemon, to garnish

Method

  1. Fill a jug with some ice and pour in the vodka, tomato juice and lemon juice straight over it
  2. Add at least three shakes of Worcestershire sauce and Tabasco, as well as a crack of black pepper into the mix, but feel free to add more if you like it spicy
  3. Stir the mix until the jug feels cold and pour into the glasses
  4. Top up with some ice if needed, and pop a celery stick and slice of lemon into each glass

 

Espresso Martini

The Espresso Martini has well and truly taken the country with storm over the last couple of years and the cocktail has now become a staple on almost every bar menu around. It truly looks the part, but it’s a breeze to make at home, too.

Serves: 4

Ready in: 10mins

Suggested serve: Round Martini glass

Garnish: Coffee beans

Ingredients

  • 2tbsp sugar syrup
  • 200ml vodka
  • 100ml freshly brewed espresso coffee
  • 100ml Kahlua
  • Ice
  • Coffee beans, to garnish

Method

  1. Pour the syrup, vodka, coffee and Kahlua into a cocktail shaker with a handful of ice
  2. Shake until the shaker feels ice cold and you can see the mixture frothing
  3. Strain into chilled glasses and garnish carefully with some coffee beans

 

Whiskey cocktail recipes 

Whisky, although largely enjoyed neat, provides a deep and rich flavour to cocktails. The below classics are also ideal for those who claim not to be whisky fans.

Old Fashioned

Channel your inner Don Draper and go for this ultimately sophisticated drink. If you’re a whisky lover, this is an absolute must-try for you. Remember to squint smoulderingly while sipping.

Serves: 4

Ready in: 5mins  

Suggested serve: Old Fashioned glass

Garnish: Meraschino cherry (optional)

Ingredients

  • 8tbsp sugar syrup
  • 4-6 dashes Angostura Bitters
  • Water
  • Ice
  • 240ml Tamdhu whisky
  • Soda water (optional)
  • Slice of orange, to garnish 
  • Meraschino cherry (optional), to garnish

Method

  1. Put 2tbsp sugar syrup, 1-1 splashes of bitters and a splash of water in each of the glasses and mix until the syrup dissolves.
  2. Fill the glasses with ice and stir in the whisky
  3. If you prefer it a little milder, feel free to add a splash of soda water on top before garnishing with a slice of orange and a cherry

 

Whisky Sour

Have non-whisky lovers coming round? Serve them this little bad boy and they’ll be converted – we promise.

Serves: 4

Ready in: 10mins

Suggested serve: Tumbler

Garnish: Rind of orange peel and cherry

Ingredients

  • 200ml Glengoyne whisky
  • 140ml lemon juice
  • 50ml sugar syrup
  • 2 fresh egg whites
  • Ice
  • Orange peel, to garnish
  • Cherries, to garnish 

Method

  1. Shake all the liquid ingredients in a cocktail shaker until the outside goes icy cold and you can see the mix frothing
  2. Put some ice cubes in the glasses before straining the mix into them
  3. Garnish with a rind of orange peel and a cherry on a stick

 

Rum cocktail recipes

Ah, rum, you tropical, delightful little thing. Nothing will make you feel more like you're on holiday than these no-fuzz rum-based cocktails.

Dark 'n' Stormy

Bermuda’s unofficial drink couldn’t be easier to make and works perfectly when served in a massive punch bowl at a party.

Serves: 4

Ready in: 5mins 

Suggested serve: Collins glass

Garnish: Wedge of lime

Ingredients

  • 200ml dark rum
  • 100ml fresh lime juice
  • 8 dashes Angostura Bitters
  • 20ml sugar syrup
  • 400ml chilled London Essence ginger beer
  • 4 wedges lime, to garnish

Method

  1. Add equal measures of each ingredient into glasses filled with ice
  2. Stir gently until all is mixed well and garnish with wedges of lime

 

Pina Colada

If you, like us, can’t help but sing the Pina Colada song (Escape by Rupert Holmes), then we think you should just run with it. Drinking this tropical cocktail will instantly make you feel like you’re on holiday, anyway.

Serves: 4

Ready in: 5mins

Suggested serve: Poco Grande glass

Garnish: Wedge of pineapple

Ingredients

  • 240ml white rum
  • 480ml pineapple juice
  • 240ml coconut cream
  • Ice
  • Wedges of pineapple, to garnish

Method

  1. Pour all ingredients and a handful of ice into a blender and mix until smooth and frothy
  2. Fill into glasses and garnish with a wedge of pineapple

 

Mojito

Few cocktails are as refreshing as a Mojito, much due to the lime and fresh mint, which also give off a wonderful aroma.

Serves: 4

Ready in: 5mins

Suggested serve: Collins glass  

Garnish: Wedge of lime and sprig of mint

Ingredients

  • 4 limes
  • 4tbsp granulated sugar
  • Handful mint
  • 240ml white rum
  • Crushed ice
  • Soda water, to taste
  • 4 wedges lime, to garnish
  • 4 sprigs mint, to garnish

Method

  1. Slice the limes into quarters and add to a jug with the sugar, mint and rum. Use the end of a rolling pin to squash the lime, squeezing the juice out and to crush the mint.
  2. Fill glasses up with crushed ice and strain the liquid over it while stirring with a spoon
  3. Top with soda water and stick a sprig of mint into it before garnishing with a wedge of lime on the edge of the rim

 

Strawberry Daiquiri

This slushy cocktail is the perfect summer tipple for hot days as the icy effect is sure to cool you down.

Serves: 4

Ready in: 10mins

Suggested serve: Margarita glass

Garnish: Strawberry and lime wedges

Ingredients

  • 1kg strawberries
  • 400g ice
  • 200ml rum
  • Juice 4 limes
  • 2 strawberries, to garnish
  • 4 slices of lime, to garnish

Method

  1. Blend the strawberries into a puree, sieving to remove the seeds
  2. Add the puree back into the blender and add the ice, rum and lime juice and blitz for a few seconds
  3. Pour into the glasses and add half a strawberry and a slice of lime to the edge of the glass

 

Miscellaneous

These rogue cocktail recipes, made with port, tequila and Aperol, are also delightful. 

Port and Tonic

For those thinking port is for pensioners and posh people, you’re not entirely wrong. Entirely being the key word. We’ve discovered that the Portuguese take on a Gin and Tonic, a Port and Tonic – using white port – is truly wonderful and refreshing.

Serves: 4

Ready in: 5mins

Suggested serve: Gin goblet  

Garnish: Slice of orange  

Ingredients

  • Ice
  • 250ml white port
  • Orange slice, to garnish
  • 500ml Franklin & Sons tonic water

Method

  1. Fill your gin goblets halfway up with ice
  2. Pour over the port and pop a slice of orange into it
  3. Fill to the top with tonic water

 

Margaritas

Head to Mexico via a cocktail with this refreshing and citrusy creation. A crowd-pleaser all around, this also works well served in a giant jug.  

Serves: 4

Ready in: 15mins

Suggested serve: Margarita glass  

Garnish: Wedge of lime  

Ingredients

  • Four lime wedges, plus extra to garnish
  • Salt
  • 140ml tequila
  • 80ml triple sec
  • 140 lime juice
  • Couple handfuls ice

Method

  1. Run a wedge of lime around the rim of the chilled glasses and dip in salt to create the frosty edge
  2. Fill a cocktail shaker with tequila, triple sec and lime juice alongside some ice and shake for 15 seconds
  3. Strain into glasses and place a wedge of lime on the rim

 

Aperol Spritz

The Aperol is another Italian cocktail that has had a renaissance for the last couple of years. Super easy to make and refreshing, yet bitter, we have no trouble understanding why it's popular.

Serves: 4

Ready in: 5mins

Suggested serve: Short tumbler or large wine glass

Garnish: Slice of orange  

Ingredients

  • Ice
  • Orange slices, to garnish
  • 200ml Aperol
  • 300ml Prosecco
  • Lemonade

Method

  1. Add a couple of ice cubes and a slice of orange to the glasses and pour 50ml of Aperol into each
  2. Put equal measures of Prosecco into each of the the glasses and top with lemonade

 

Prefer having you cocktails made by experts? Check out our list of best cocktail bars in London