5 drinks every home bartender should know how to make

Our editor’s essential cocktails

An Old Fashioned is a classic cocktail every home bartender should know how to make. Getty images photo

Now that we’re all spending so much more time at home, this is a good opportunity to brush up on our home-bartending skills. That means learning at least a few recipes to serve to the people in your bubble and, eventually, all the many friends you’re making on Zoom.

The most important drink you should know how to make is the one you like best. That’s also the best advice for stocking your liquor cabinet, though for your sake I hope it’s something simple, like a highball, rather than, say, a Ramos Gin Fizz, which requires egg whites, orange blossom water and a seltzer bottle, among other things.

After that, it’s best to start with classics. They are, after all, classics for a reason—they taste good, and they work—but they are also a good place to start experimenting if you want to get creative. Here are five drinks every home bartender should have in their repertoire.

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Champagne cocktail

A classic Champagne Cocktail. Getty Images photo

One of the world’s oldest cocktails, this dates back to the mid-1800s. This recipe is part of The Alchemist‘s series of cocktails you should know. 

• 1 sugar cube, preferably cane and brown
• 1 to 2 dashes Angostura bitters
• Splash of Cognac
• 3 oz Champagne or sparkling wine
• Garnish: lemon zest (optional)

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Bicicletta

A classic Bicicletta. Getty Images photo

The way the story goes, this mid-20th-century drink was named for the elderly Italian men who swerved all over the road while cycling home after drinking in the local café. This recipe is part of The Alchemist‘s series of cocktails you should know. 

• 2 oz Campari
• 1.5 to 2 oz dry white wine, preferably Italian
• Soda water
• Garnish: citrus slice (optional)

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Gibson

A classic Gibson. Getty Images photo

This savoury take on the Martini dates back to late 1800s San Francisco. This recipe is part of The Alchemist‘s series of cocktails you should know. 

• 2.5 oz gin or vodka
• 0.5 oz dry vermouth
• Garnish: 2 cocktail onions, skewered

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Margarita

A classic Margarita. Getty images photo

“Margarita” is Spanish for “daisy,” and this is likely a tequila-based 1930s variation on the even older drink of that name. This recipe is part of The Alchemist‘s series of cocktails you should know. 

• 2 oz blanco tequila
• 1 oz orange liqueur such as Cointreau
• 1 oz freshly squeezed lime juice
• Garnish: Salted rim, optional lime wedge

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The Martini

The murky past of a clear favourite

Martini. istockphoto.com

Plenty a tall tale has crossed the polished oak; after all, bartenders like to dish out lively anecdotes along with the gin and spiced nuts. But when it comes to boozy myths, legends, outright lies and wholesale whoppers, “more cling to the Martini than any other cocktail.”

So writes Robert Simonson in his IACP-nominated book The Martini Cocktail (Ten Speed Press). He is fascinated by the outsize role the Martini has played in popular culture ever since its invention in 1849, or maybe it was the 1880s, or possibly 1906, who knows?

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Turf Cocktail

The Turf Cocktail. Istockphoto.com photo

The Turf Cocktail emerged around the same time as the Martini, and some believe it was an early version of it (not likely, but you never know).

• 1.5 oz Plymouth gin
1.5 oz dry vermouth, preferably Noilly Prat
• 2 dashes orange bitters
• 2 dashes maraschino liqueur
• 2 dashes absinthe
• Garnish: olive

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Martini

Martini. istockphoto.com

The classic, as it has evolved over more than a century of opinionated drinking.

• 2.5 oz London dry gin
• 0.25 to 0.5 oz dry vermouth
• Garnish: lemon peel twist or olives

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The Kir Royale

Cocktail of the resistance

The elegant but rebellious Kir Royale is an easy party staple. Dan Toulgoet photo

The Kir Royale (or Royal, if you prefer) is the kind of swanky fizz that could have been conjured up by some posh hotel barkeep trying to impress a well-heeled customer. In fact, its backstory is much more thrilling than that.

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