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20 Cocktails Every Man Should Know How to Make

Your arsenal of cocktails should be a lot deeper than a Manhattan and a Martini.

Like changing a tire or grilling a steak, mixing together a perfect batch of cocktails is just one of those things guys should know how to do. Of course, every guy knows how to make an martini—and he'll tell you his idea of the "perfect way." (It's this, by the way.) But can he do it up properly on the rocks? How about switch things up with a martinez? Whether you're closing a deal or a date, you're going to want to be able to make these 20 delicious cocktails. And if it's the latter, well, these may not be romantique enough, so brush up on the 10 nightcaps that are sure to impress her—every time.

Martini on the rocks

martini on the rocks recipe cocktails

It seems simple enough, but there are so many contenders for the ultimate martini recipe that it'll make your head spin. In the '80s, there was a Saturday Night Live sketch about a game show called "What Would Frank Do?" The idea being that the answers to all of life's questions resided in Sinatra's gut. According to a bartender at London's Savoy Hotel, where Sinatra sometimes stayed, his drink was the martini — specifically, gin and vermouth over ice.

So do what Frank did. At the very least, it'll be an impressive anecdote as you're shaking them up.

3 ounces London Dry-style gin, such as Beefeater
¾ ounce dry vermouth
1 small strip of lemon peel

Directions: Fill a mixing glass with ice. Pour in gin and vermouth. Stir for 30 seconds, then strain into an old-fashioned glass over fresh ice. Twist the lemon peel over the drink, then drop it in.

The classic martini

classic martini recipe

Although old-timey, a martini on the rocks may seem radical. For a classic version, go with this recipe for The Absolute Martini from The Little Black Book of Martinis:

Dry vermouth to taste:
• 4 parts gin to 1 part vermouth is a medium dry martini
• 6 to 1 is dry
• 8 to 1 is very dry
• 12 to 1 is an arid martini

Directions: Shake or stir, with cracked ice. Strain into a cold martini glass. Garnish with a green olive or a lemon twist.

Old fashioned

old fashioned cocktail recipe cocktails

Whiskey combined with muddled sugar, bitters and water, the Old Fashioned is so named because it was one of the very first whiskey cocktails. Its origin is traceable, anecdotally, to the early 19th century, and a recipe can be found in the awesomely titled 1862 book How to Mix Drinks, or the Bon-Vivant's Companion. Mixologist Emily Farris suggests this recipe.

1 teaspoon white granulated sugar
2 dashes Angustora Bitters
2 dashes orange bitters
4 ounces rye whiskey
Orange twist, for garnish

Directions: Add the sugar and bitters to the bottom of a rocks glass, then muddle them together with the end of a wooden spoon. Add the whiskey and stir well (until the sugar is dissolved, at least 30 seconds), then top it off with a handful of ice or one large ice cube. Twist the orange peel to release its oils and garnish.

Hemingway daiquiri

hemingway daiquiri recipe cocktails

In addition to capturing the manly metier of his time in books such as A Farewell to Arms and The Sun Also Rises, Ernest Hemingway was also, perhaps, the Papa of mixology. This drink was created for him when he was living in 1920s Cuba.

Cocktails scholar Philip Green claims to have tracked down the original recipe published by the Floridita Bar, where Hemingway hung out. Called the Papa Doble for its double strength, it'll have you bidding a farewell to limb control if you're not careful.

2 oz white rum
1 oz fresh lime juice
1/2 oz fresh grapefruit juice
1/4 oz maraschino liqueur
1 1/2 to 2 cups shaved ice

Directions: Combine in a blender and frappe until the drink is foaming. Serve in a large cocktail glass, champagne saucer, or goblet. Note: Maraschino liqueur is not the same thing as syrup from a cherry jar.


margarita recipe cocktails

Its reputation has been sullied by spring breaks, giant neon cocktail glasses and that frozen sludge dispensed by machines, but the margarita is nonetheless worth learning to do well. Few summer drinks are as refreshing — or as requested.

Just be sure to use 100% agave tequila and skip overly sweet triple sec for smoother agave syrup.

2 oz 100% agave tequila
1 oz lime juice
1 oz Cointreau or dry curacao

Directions: Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker. Add ice and shake vigorously to combine. Strain into a coupe glass rimmed with coarse salt.


manhattan cocktail recipe cocktails

As old-school as it gets, the Manhattan is an ideal showcase for your favorite whiskey. Ever since we sampled the exceptional George Dickel whiskey at NYC's Back Forty, it's been one of our choice options for both sipping and cocktails. So we'll pass along their recipe for a Manhattan. Use a whiskey of your choice, but go with crisp and clean, nothing smoky or peaty.

1 oz. George Dickel Rye Whisky
0.5 oz. sweet vermouth
3 dash Angostura Bitters
1 cherry

Directions: Stir & strain into a coupe cocktail glass.


sazerac recipe cocktails

Sweet and sharp, this New Orleans standby is the Southern spin on a brandy cocktail. This recipe comes from from William Boothby's 1908 book World Drinks & How to Mix Them. It's cited in the PDT Cocktail Book by the proprietors of Please Don't Tell in New York City, one of the finest cocktail bars in the world.

2 oz Rittenhouse rye whiskey
3 dashes Peychaud's bitters
2 dashes Angostura bitters
1 sugar cube

Directions: Muddle the sugar and bitters, then add the whiskey. Stir with ice and strain into a chilled, Vieux Pontarlier Absinthe-rinsed rocks glass. Pinch a lemon peel over the surface and discard.


cosmopolitan cocktail recipe

You're cringing, but if you have lady friends, you'll be called upon to make this sweet-and-tart drink on occasion. Don't get cute with it — go with this straightforward recipe from the International Bartenders Association.

1 ⅓ oz Citron Vodka
½ oz Cointreau
1 oz Cranberry juice
½ oz Fresh lime juice

Directions: Shake all ingredients in cocktail shaker filled with ice. Strain into a large cocktail glass. Garnish with lime slice.

Mint julep

mint julep recipe cocktails

The requisite cocktail at Kentucky Derby parties — unofficially the start of warm-weather drinking season — the mint julep is also a refreshing summer cocktail. Jim Meehan, author of the PDT Cocktail Book, turns to this recipe from The Bar-Tender's Guide, published in 1862. "The keys to a great mint julep are a proper julep cup (preferably silver), cold crushed ice, lively mint and the finest overproof bourbon you can afford to mix with," he writes.

2.5 oz bourbon
0.5 oz simple syrup
8 mint leaves

Directions: In a chilled julep cup, muddle the mint and syrup, then add the bourbon and top with pebble ice. Swizzle, then top with more pebbled ice. Garnish with 3 mint sprigs.

Rusty nail

rusty nail recipe cocktails

This classic cocktail is an excellent showcase for quality scotch in the event that someone in your party doesn't have the palate to drink it straight. (Drambuie is, after all, scotch-based liqueur.) You can also use bourbon, a smoky whiskey or mezcal if that's to your taste. Fun fact: Subbing in Canadian rye whisky makes this a Donald Sutherland, after the iconic actor and New Brunswick native.

2 ounces blended scotch whiskey
½ ounce Drambuie
1 lemon twist

Directions: Combine scotch and Drambuie in an old fashioned glass over ice (if you like your drinks sweeter, add a little more liqueur). Stir, and garnish with a lemon twist.

Bloody Mary

Bloody Mary cocktails

You might rely on this most classic of brunch cocktails to help you forget the night before, but this recipe is worth committing to memory. It's the original Bloody Mary, created at the King Cole Bar in New York City in 1934. There, it was called the Red Snapper, and it doesn't lack for bite.

Dash of tabasco
Dash of Worcestershire sauce
2 ounces vodka
Splash of dry sherry
5 ounces tomato juice
1 ounce lemon juice, freshly squeezed
Pinch of celery salt
Pinch of cayenne pepper
Celery stick or slice of lemon, to garnish

Directions: Pour the Tabasco and Worcestershire sauce over ice in a shaker and add the vodka, dry sherry, tomato juice and lemon juice. Season with celery salt and cayenne pepper. Shake vigorously and strain over ice into a highball glass. Garnish with a celery stick or a slice of lemon.


Sidecar Recipe cocktails

According to legend, the Sidecar was invented at the Hemingway Bar at the Hotel Ritz in Paris, for a patron who always pulled up on a motorcycle with a sidecar. It first appeared in Robert Vermeer's 1922 book Cocktails and How to Make Them, with the specification that it "takes the drinker for a ride." If you want to go big, make the hotel's deluxe version, which substitutes cognac for the brandy.

2 oz brandy
1 oz triple sec
twist of orange peel, to garnish

Directions: Shake the brandy and Triple Sec over ice, strain into a tumbler filled with ice and add the orange peel to garnish.

Whiskey Sour

Whiskey Sour cocktails

This classic cocktail might be considered a somewhat delicate deflection of a Manhattan, but its history is hardcore: 19th-century sailors brought the drink ashore after mixing their rum rations with lemon juice to ward off scurvy. It was first published in 1862's The Bar-Tenders Guide by Jerry Thomas as a simple sugar-lemon-bourbon ratio. We like this updated version from The Gentleman's Guide to Cocktails. Accept no substitutes — and by God, stay away from bottled sour mix.

2 ounces bourbon
2 dashes of Angostura bitters
1 tablespoon of cherry juice
2 ounces lemon juice, freshly squeezed
2 ounces sugar syrup (or to taste)

Directions: Add the ingredients to an ice-filled shaker. Shake hard and strain into a tumbler full of ice.

Tom Collins

Tom Collins cocktails

Essentially a boozy sparkling lemonade, this 19th-century libation is about as classic (and refreshing) as cocktails get.

1 tsp sugar
Juice of 1 lemon
1 1/2 ounces gin
Club soda

Directions: Place ice cubes in a tall glass. Add sugar and lemon juice. Pour in gin, then fill to the top with club soda and stir.

From Vintage Cocktails by Susan Waggoner and Robert Markel

Irish Coffee

Irish Coffee cocktails

The cooler months — particularly family-filled holidays — would be damn near intolerable without a mug of jumped-up joe at hand. For the best recipe, we went right to the source: the official guide to Ireland's whiskey distilleries and bars.

1 ounce Irish whiskey
4 ounces strong freshly brewed dark roast Arabica coffee
2 teaspoons brown sugar
Freshly whipped Irish Cream

Directions: Pre-heat a clear stemmed glass with very hot water. Empty the water, and add the brown sugar. Add the coffee and whiskey, Stir well, then wait for the brew to still. Take a hot teaspoon and pour the lightly whipped fresh cream slowly over the back of the spoon. The cream should be "plopping consistency" and must be fresh.

Recipe from



Negroni cocktails

The Negroni was created by Count Camillo Negroni as a hangover cure right after World War I. It's ideal for an afternoon of sitting and sipping, or as an apertif before dinner.

1 ounce gin
1 ounce Campari
3/4 ounce vermouth Cinzano rosso
Orange twist

Directions: Pour gin, Campari and vermouth into a double rocks glass with ice. Garnish with orange twist.


Martinez cocktails

Dating back to the 1884 Modern Bartender's Guide, this mashup of a dry gin martini and a Manhattan will please any fan of both.

2 ounces gin
1 ounce sweet vermouth
1/4 ounce Maraschino liqueur
Dash orange bitters

Directions: Combine all ingredients in a shaker and shake. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Recipe from Old Man Drinks: Recipes, Advice and Barstool Wisdom


Gimlet cocktails

The preferred beverage of Raymond Chandler's detective Phillip Marlowe, the gumshoe described it in The Long Goodbye: "A real gimlet is half gin and half Rose's Lime Juice, and nothing else." We prefer to go a ittle heavier on the gin.

2 ounces gin
1 ounce Rose's Lime Juice
Lime wedge

Directions: Pour the gin and lime juice in a cocktail shaker with ice. Strain into a chilled glass. Add lime wedge as garnish.

Champagne Cocktail

Champagne Cocktails

The next time you have an occasion to toast, give this perennial female favorite a complex spin with the sweet twist of brandy and tang of Angostura.

1 sugar cube
2 to 3 dashes Angostura bitters
1 ounce brandy
6 ounces chilled Champagne
Lemon or orange twist

Directions: Soak the sugar cube in the Angostura bitters and place it in the bottom of a Champagne flute. Add the brandy. Fill the glass with Champagne. Garnish with a twist of lemon.

Recipe from Old Man Drinks: Recipes, Advice and Barstool Wisdom

Cuba Libre

Cuba Libre cocktails

This summer refresher couldn't be easier to make — or more crowd-pleasing. This recipe calls for a little sleight-of-hand with muddled lime peel to elevate the drink above the typical rum-and-Coke.

1 small lime
1 1/2 ounce Bacardi rum

Directions: Cut lime and strain juice into a tall glass. Scrape peel clean, cut in pieces, and add the peel to the glass. Pour in rum. Muddle, working so that the sides of the glass are coated with liquid. Then add ice and Coca-Cola.

From Vintage Cocktails by Susan Waggoner and Robert Markel

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Michael Martin
Michael Martin is a seasoned writer and editor with a passion for helping people make life-improving decisions. Read more