Discover the Top 21 Cocktails: Your Ultimate Guide

the top 21 cocktails all bartenders should know - featuring 5 cocktails in the background - belini - mojito - negroni - mai tai


Welcome to your ultimate guide to the top 21 cocktails! Whether you're a novice or a seasoned mixologist, this guide will walk you through the classics and some modern favorites. Each cocktail includes a link to a detailed blog post with YouTube videos on how to make the perfect version. Brought to you by Spirits with Smoke and Never Drink Ordinary, our goal is to help you become a professional in no time. With over 60 years of combined experience in hospitality and cocktails, let’s dive into the world of mixology!

Classic and Refreshing Cocktails

1. Daiquiri

- A timeless blend of rum, lime, and sugar, perfect for any occasion. The Daiquiri's simplicity and refreshing taste make it a favorite for both casual gatherings and sophisticated events. This cocktail embodies the spirit of summer with its light and zesty flavor.

2. Caipirinha

Brazil's national cocktail made with cachaça, sugar, and lime, offering a refreshing taste. The Caipirinha is a symbol of Brazilian culture, celebrated for its robust and tangy profile. It's an ideal drink for those looking to explore exotic flavors and vibrant experiences.

3. Paloma

- A delightful Mexican cocktail combining tequila, lime juice, and grapefruit soda. The Paloma is a refreshing alternative to the classic Margarita, perfect for hot summer days. Its sweet and tangy mix provides a burst of citrusy delight in every sip.

4. Mai Tai

-A tropical treat with rum, lime, orgeat syrup, and orange liqueur. The Mai Tai is synonymous with beach vacations and tiki bars, offering a complex and rich flavor profile. It's the ultimate escape in a glass, bringing a taste of the tropics to your home.

5. Mojito

- A Cuban classic with rum, mint, lime, sugar, and soda water. The Mojito is a crowd-pleaser known for its refreshing and invigorating taste. Its combination of minty coolness and citrusy brightness makes it perfect for outdoor parties and sunny afternoons.

Elegant and Sophisticated Cocktails

6. Martini

- The epitome of sophistication with gin and vermouth, garnished with an olive or lemon twist. The Martini is the quintessential cocktail for elegant soirées, symbolizing class and refinement. It's a drink that stands the test of time, favored by many for its clean and crisp taste.

7. Bellini

- A Venetian favorite mixing Prosecco and peach purée. The Bellini is a celebration in a glass, often enjoyed at brunches and special occasions. Its light and fruity profile make it a delightful and refreshing choice for festive moments.

8. Whiskey Sour

- A balanced mix of whiskey, lemon juice, and sugar. The Whiskey Sour is a versatile cocktail that marries tartness with the warmth of whiskey. It's perfect for those who enjoy a well-rounded and sophisticated drink that can be both refreshing and comforting.

9. Gin Collins

- A refreshing combination of gin, lemon juice, sugar, and soda water. The Gin Collins is an elegant and timeless cocktail that offers a perfect balance of tartness and sweetness. It's an excellent choice for a refined gathering or a relaxing evening at home.

10. Cosmopolitan

- A chic cocktail with vodka, triple sec, cranberry juice, and lime. The Cosmopolitan, made famous by popular culture, is the epitome of urban sophistication. Its vibrant color and balanced taste make it a go-to for stylish events and nights out.

Fun and Flavorful Cocktails

11. Margarita

- A tangy blend of tequila, lime juice, and triple sec, perfect for any fiesta. The Margarita is a classic party drink that brings a touch of zest and fun to any occasion. Its bold and bright flavors are ideal for celebrating with friends and family.

12. Aperol Spritz

A vibrant Italian cocktail with Aperol, Prosecco, and soda water. The Aperol Spritz is perfect for aperitivo hour, offering a light and bubbly experience. Its slightly bitter taste, paired with the sweetness of Prosecco, makes it a favorite for social gatherings and warm evenings. Learn how to make it here

13. Espresso Martini

- A modern favorite combining vodka, coffee liqueur, and espresso. The Espresso Martini is the perfect pick-me-up, merging the rich flavors of coffee with the smoothness of vodka. It's an excellent choice for after-dinner drinks or a lively night out.

14. French 75

- A bubbly mix of gin, lemon juice, sugar, and champagne. The French 75 is a glamorous cocktail that combines the elegance of champagne with the kick of gin. It's ideal for celebrations and special occasions, adding a touch of sparkle to any event.

15. Moscow Mule

- A refreshing drink with vodka, ginger beer, and lime served in a copper mug. The Moscow Mule is known for its tangy and spicy flavor, enhanced by the iconic copper mug. It's a refreshing choice that adds a bit of zing to your cocktail repertoire.

Warm and Comforting Cocktails

16. Irish Coffee

- A cozy blend of hot coffee, Irish whiskey, sugar, and whipped cream. The Irish Coffee is a perfect winter warmer, combining the richness of coffee with the warmth of whiskey. It's a comforting drink that's ideal for cold evenings and cozy gatherings.

17. Pina Colada

- A tropical escape with rum, coconut cream, and pineapple juice. The Pina Colada transports you to a tropical paradise with its creamy and fruity flavors. It's the perfect drink for relaxing by the pool or dreaming of beach vacations.

18. Bloody Mary

- A savory mix of vodka, tomato juice, and various spices and flavorings. The Bloody Mary is a versatile cocktail that's perfect for brunch and known for its unique, savory profile. It's often enjoyed as a hangover cure or a flavorful start to the day.

Timeless Classics

19. Old Fashioned

- Discover the history behind this classic drink and why using raw or demerara sugar elevates its flavor. Explore variations using smoke products to add unique smoky aromas. Master the art of the Old Fashioned and impress your guests with a timeless and sophisticated drink.

20. Manhattan

- A sophisticated blend of whiskey, sweet vermouth, and bitters. The Manhattan is a classic cocktail that exudes elegance and history. It's a perfect choice for those who appreciate a well-balanced and robust drink.

21. Sidecar

- The Sidecar is a tangy mix of cognac, triple sec, and lemon juice. The Sidecar is a classic cocktail known for its sharp and sophisticated taste. It's a perfect choice for those looking to enjoy a drink with a bit of history and a lot of flavors.

22. The Negroni

- The Negroni is a bitter and refreshing blend of gin, vermouth, and Campari. The Negroni is a beloved classic that offers a perfect balance of bitterness and sweetness. It's an ideal aperitif, stimulating the palate before a meal.


These 21 cocktails are staples in the world of mixology. For detailed recipes and how-to videos, click on the links to our blog posts and explore the magic of cocktail making. Cheers to your next great drink!