5 basic cocktails that everyone can make to look good

5 basic cocktails that everyone can make to look good 1

This article about cocktails was originally published in the Australian version of GQ.

There comes a time in life when one needs to become a good host. Coming to an age, offering bad red wines or hot beers to guests is not very attractive. And half-made ice cubes won’t mask all sorts of sins either.

Instead, design a list of basic cocktails that you can prepare at any time and when the mood is right.

If you don’t already have an emergency minibar, we suggest you stock up on the basics and essentials. For starters, we recommend stocking up on vodka, gin, whiskey or bourbon, and tequila. The essentials. Add some vermouth, an herbal liqueur like Campari, an orange liqueur like Cointreau, and then go crazy. You have already laid the foundations and the world of cocktails is yours.

It’s also advisable to have mixers and side dishes on hand: fresh limes, lemons, and basil will form a solid foundation, but cucumbers, rosemary sprigs, and olives can also add some flavor to your bar.

As far as equipment is concerned, you don’t need a new, ultra-luxurious cocktail kit. That said, a shaker with a strainer is a great staple. But even if you can’t make that investment, don’t worry, you can always create one with your water bottles or shaker, just make sure they’re well cleaned.

All set? It’s time to mix. Below, we compile 5 classic and super easy cocktails that anyone can make without needing to be an expert.


WASHINGTON, DC - Negroni photographed at Urbana in Washington, DC. (Photo by Deb Lindsey For The Washington Post via Getty Images).

Think of this cocktail as the super-sophisticated big brother of the Aperol Spritz. Bitter, dry, and a little sweet, this refreshing cocktail has been the drink of choice for legends such as Anthony Bourdain and Ernest Hemingway. Add an oversized ice cube.

Need: Campari, gin, and sweet vermouth in equal parts, along with an orange to decorate.

How to do it: Shake the liquid ingredients in equal parts in a shaker with a little ice and then strain in a glass over ice cubes. Turn the zest of an orange peel and you’re good to go. Add a splash of soda if you’re looking for something lighter to start or end the night.

Tom Collins

Cocktail Tom Collins at Peninsula Hotel, Tsim Sha Tsui. 24 April 2006 (Photo by Dickson Lee/South China Morning Post via Getty Images)

This foolproof combination, dating back to the 1800s, is for those who love refreshing and slightly sweet drinks. Extremely easy to drink and with just the right amount of flavor, the Tom Collins lifts your spirits and is perfect for barbecues.

Need: Gin, soda, lemon, and simple syrup (or sugar).

How to do it: Add a shot and a half of gin to half a drink of lemon juice and shake with ice. You can add sugar syrup, but if you don’t have any on hand, it’s too easy to prepare. Simply put a cup of sugar to a cup of almost boiling water and mix it until the sugar dissolves; be sure to store it in the fridge once you’re done. Strain the mixture over ice in a tall glass and finish with sparkling water. Most people garnish with a little lemon or orange and a cherry, but it’s not pertinent to the taste.


Cocktail Old Fashioned at Loyal Dining, 5 Tonnochy Road in Wan Chai. 12OCT17 SCMP / Jonathan Wong (Photo by Jonathan Wong/South China Morning Post via Getty Images)

If you do not have a shaker, this could be a great option to make, since it is usually prepared in the glass in which it is served. Another cocktail with centuries of antiquity, one of the most demanded drinks of 2021, and nothing complicated to do.

You will need: whiskey or bourbon, angostura bitters, sugar cube or sugar syrup, and an orange peel

How to do it: Mix the sugar cube with two drops of bitterness and a teaspoon of water in a cold glass, omitting the water if you opt for the syrup. Then, simply pour two drinks of the spirit you’ve chosen and stir with ice, making sure everything is diluted before adding a touch of orange peel to it.


NEW YORK, NY - SEPTEMBER 5: Martini drink with Chrysler building on September 5, 1984 in New York, New York. (Photo by Santi Visalli/Getty Images)

Of course, Mr. Bond’s signature had to be on the list, but there are a million ways to approach the martini, which means that there are also a million ways to prepare it. The classic drink doesn’t have to be complicated and it’s good to know the basics as well as some popular variations for when guests get picky.

You’ll need non-negotiable gin or vodka and vermouth and, depending on the version you’re making, a jar of olives or lemon to decorate.

How to do it: There is no right or wrong way to make this drink, as the only thing you should worry about is how you like to drink it. Experts agree that the basic mixture consists of combining four parts of gin for one part of dry vermouth. Pour into a glass and add a twist of lemon peel to finish. Other versions include the Dirty Martini, to which two tablespoons of olive brine (the juice of the jar) are added to the mixture and one or three (even numbers are believed to bring bad luck) olives on a toothpick. Vodka Martini is essentially the same as a classic, only gin is replaced by vodka. The burnt Martini swaps gin for Scotch whisky and the Martini Vesper sometimes referred to as 007, is made up of three parts gin and one part vodka.


Close-up of hand of a man pouring the signature Copita margarita into a salt rimmed glass at Copita Mexican cuisine restaurant in Sausalito, California, August 5, 2018. (Photo by Smith Collection/Gado/Getty Images)

There is always room for daisies, the ultimate to please the crowd. The best part is that you can give them your own touch easily, whether it’s adding some sweet passion fruit, jalapenos to spice it up, or a little beer to relax it.

Need: Tequila, freshly squeezed lemon juice, orange liqueur, rock salt, and agave (optional).

How to do it: Place some lemon around the edge of a glass and dip it in the salt. To make the blend, combine two parts tequila with one part orange liquor and lime juice, and try it out to see if you need anything else. If you want to add some sweetness, add a splash of agave syrup. Serve on ice and with a slice of lime to decorate.

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