- Simple drinks
- How to make a negroni
- How to make a martini
- White Russian
- How to make a white Russian
- Kir royale
- How to make a kir royale
- Champagne bellini
- How to make a Champagne bellini
- Old fashioned
- How to make an old fashioned
- Cuba libre
- How to make a Cuba libre
- Dark ‘n’ stormy
- How to make a dark ‘n’ stormy
- How to make a Manhattan
- How to make a sidecar
- How to make a daiquiri
- Tequila sunrise
- How to make a tequila sunrise
- Mint julep
- How to make a mint julep
- How to make an americano
- How to make a gimlet
- Aperol spritz
- How to make an Aperol spritz
- How to make a boulevardier
- Espresso martini
- How to make an espresso martini
- Moscow mule
- How to make a Moscow mule
- How to make a margarita
There’s no better way to celebrate at home or kick off a feast than with cocktails. But you don’t need to buy in specialist ingredients and fancy kit to make impressive drinks. These 20 simple cocktails are easy to make and each requires just three ingredients. With many sharing the same components and only a small group of core spirits needed, you can mix up a storm in minutes with minimum mess and fuss.
This Italian concoction is not for the faint-hearted. Combining three different spirits with a healthy dose of bitters to kick-start your appetite, negronis make a great apéritif before a meal.
How to make a negroni
With three ingredients combined in equal proportion, negronis are a doddle to make. Mix one part gin (pictured), one part red vermouth and one part Campari (a bitter-tasting liqueur) over ice cubes in a tumbler glass. Garnish with orange peel, if you like, and you’re done.
One of the most famous cocktails worldwide, the perfect martini is something everyone should master. Once you’ve got the basics down, endless riffs on the original are possible.
How to make a martini
Pour 1tbsp and 60ml (2fl oz) gin or vodka over ice cubes in a cocktail shaker, and stir or shake. Strain into a v-shaped martini cocktail glass. You can play around with the proportions of vermouth to spirit. A dry martini will have more spirit (closer to 100% gin) while a wet cocktail will have more vermouth. For a dirty martini, add olive brine and olive, or for a martini with a twist, add lemon peel. Twist the peel before you add it to the glass to release the fruit’s natural oils.
A sweet, creamy cocktail, white Russians are often enjoyed at the end of the night to settle the stomach. There’s no Russian connection other than that the core ingredient is vodka, which can come from anywhere.
How to make a white Russian
Add two parts coffee liqueur and five parts vodka to a tumbler glass with ice cubes. Top with milk or cream, gently stir and serve.
French priest Felix Kir is said to have popularized this cocktail in Burgundy after the Second World War to promote two local ingredients: wine and crème de cassis. The original kir cocktail is traditionally made with Bourgogne Aligot, a white wine, but the ‘royale’ indicates it’s made with Champagne.
How to make a kir royale
Add one part crème de cassis, a blackcurrant-based liqueur (pictured), to a flute. Slowly top with Champagne for a bubbly royale or any other white wine for a straight kir. Garnish with fresh blackcurrants or raspberries and serve chilled.
There are many cocktails that use sparkling wine – it’s a versatile ingredient and makes easy-going drinks. If you’re not sure where to start, a Champagne bellini makes a great apéritif.
How to make a Champagne bellini
Add a small amount of peach purée (available pre-made) and two or three drops of bitters to a Champagne flute. Top with prosecco for an authentic bellini, Champagne for a decadent version or any other sparkling white wine. A peach slice is an optional garnish.
The old fashioned is a whiskey-based cocktail and considered one of the classics, dating from the early 1800s. The basic recipe has stayed pretty much the same since then.
How to make an old fashioned
Add one sugar cube to a tumbler glass, then drip two or three drops of bitters to the cube. Muddle until mixed. Fill the glass with ice cubes and top with bourbon or rye whiskey (pictured) to taste. As an optional garnish, add an orange slice or orange peel.
This celebratory cocktail is said to have been invented after the Spanish-American war when Cuba won its freedom. It’s a simple mix of three widely available ingredients that balance sweetness and bitterness for a refreshing long drink.
How to make a Cuba libre
Fill a highball glass with ice cubes, squeeze in the juice of half a lime and drop in the spent lime. Add a generous measure of white or medium rum and top with cola. Stir well and serve with an optional mint garnish.
Dark ‘n’ stormy
The official cocktail of Bermuda, the dark ‘n’ stormy is made from two drinks native to the island: Gosling’s dark rum and Barritt’s ginger beer. The recipe is trademarked so if you must tinker with it, just don’t let them find out. In Bermuda, they would never add our third ingredient, lime juice, but we strongly recommend that you do.
How to make a dark ‘n’ stormy
Fill a highball glass with ice cubes and add two thirds dark rum and one third ginger beer (pictured). Add a tablespoon of lime juice, garnish with a lime wedge and serve.
Thought to date from the 19th century, the Manhattan is one of the world’s oldest cocktails. There are now many variants but you can’t beat the original.
How to make a Manhattan
Combine two measures of rye whiskey (pictured) with one measure of sweet vermouth and two drops of bitters over ice in a mixing glass. Strain and pour into a martini or coupe glass. Garnish with a maraschino cherry and serve.
The sidecar is an orange-infused classic dating from the 1920s, when it was said to have been invented at a bar in Paris. It’s incredibly simple to make which is probably one of the reasons why it’s still so popular today.
How to make a sidecar
Firstly, fill a cocktail shaker with ice cubes. Add three parts cognac (or substitute with brandy), one part orange liqueur (such as triple sec or Cointreau), one part fresh lemon juice and combine. Strain and serve into a coupe cocktail glass. An orange peel garnish is optional.
The daiquiri is a classic cocktail from which you can make many variants. White rum and lime juice make it a bright and zesty drink, and you can make frozen versions with blended ice for a thicker consistency.
How to make a daiquiri
In a cocktail shaker, combine two measures of white rum, one measure of lime juice and half a measure of sugar syrup with ice cubes. Shake, strain and serve in a martini or coupe glass.
Tequila deserves a better reputation than its status as a shooter drink. Source quality tequila and freshly squeezed orange juice for a bright ray of sunshine whatever the weather.
How to make a tequila sunrise
There’s no mixing involved which makes this drink incredibly easy. Combine six parts orange juice with three parts quality tequila over ice cubes in a highball glass. Gently add one part grenadine syrup which will form a vibrant red pool at the bottom of the glass. Optional garnishes include a maraschino cherry and an orange slice.
A refreshing whiskey cocktail with 18th-century roots, the mint julep contains bourbon, sugar syrup, mint leaves and ice. The drink is more commonly enjoyed when the weather’s hot but it’s also great if you’re after something thirst-quenching.
How to make a mint julep
In a julep cup or highball glass, muddle eight mint leaves with one quarter part sugar syrup. Add one part bourbon and pack tightly with crushed ice. Stir with a long-handled spoon and top with more ice. Garnish with a sprig of mint.
Famously the first cocktail mentioned in the James Bond novels, the americano contains Campari, sweet vermouth and soda water, making it a light and bittersweet apéritif.
How to make an americano
In a highball or glass tumbler, add equal parts Campari and sweet vermouth. Top with soda water and garnish with an optional lemon twist or orange slice.
A sweet and tart citrus cocktail made for gin-lovers. Gimlets were supposedly drunk by sailors in the 19th century as the lime helped prevent scurvy. They’re simple to make at home – the three ingredients are gin, fresh lime juice and sugar syrup.
How to make a gimlet
Add two and a half parts gin, a half part fresh lime juice and a half part sugar syrup to a mixing glass with ice cubes. Stir well then strain into a chilled cocktail glass or coupe glass. Garnish with an optional lime twist. Top tip: the cocktail is even quicker to make if you substitute lime juice and sugar syrup with lime cordial.
Popular in recent years, the Aperol spritz hails from Italy and makes for a refreshing drink that’s easy on the alcohol. It’s based on Aperol, a semi-sweet, slightly bitter 22 proof (11% ABV) apéritif.
How to make an Aperol spritz
It’s easy to remember how to make an Aperol spritz – just follow a 3-2-1 mix. In a large red wine or balloon glass, add ice cubes then three parts prosecco, two parts Aperol and one part soda water, in that order. Garnish with a thick slice of orange and enjoy.
The boulevardier is a fun twist on a classic negroni, substituting gin for whiskey, making a rich, warming and spicy cocktail.
How to make a boulevardier
Add equal parts whiskey (bourbon or rye will work well), Campari and sweet red vermouth to a mixing glass and fill with ice. Stir well then strain into a chilled glass tumbler with ice cubes. Garnish with an optional orange twist.
The espresso martini is a smooth, sweet, sophisticated blend of vodka, espresso coffee and coffee liqueur. It’s the perfect after-dinner cocktail and believed to have been created in 1980s London when a customer wanted something to perk them up before a night on the town.
How to make an espresso martini
Put two martini glasses in the fridge to chill. To a cocktail shaker, add two parts vodka, one part freshly brewed espresso, one part coffee liqueur and a handful of ice. Shake well until the outside of the cocktail shaker is cold then strain into the martini glasses and garnish with coffee beans.
Originating in 1940s Manhattan rather than Moscow, legend has it the cocktail was created after two traders wanted to sell more of their wares: one sold vodka, the other ginger beer. They combined them in a drink and the Moscow mule was born.
How to make a Moscow mule
A Moscow mule is typically made and served in a copper mug. Squeeze around one tablespoon of lime juice over ice cubes then add a lime wedge. Pour in one part vodka, top with three parts ginger beer, stir and serve.
Fresh, crisp and zippy, the margarita is a classic. While riffs on the drink are endless, we prefer the quintessential recipe.
How to make a margarita
Take a coupe cocktail glass and rub the rim with a slice of lime, then dip it in salt. In a cocktail shaker, shake together two parts quality tequila, one part lime juice and one part triple sec with ice. Strain, serve and enjoy.