Hosting any event in your home is an art—you really have to know your crowd. Sometimes, popcorn and some cold beers are all you need to keep guests happy. Other times, some shots of tequila might do the trick. It depends, and sometimes it’s hard to decide what to do!
One option that never fails to satisfy is to whip up great cocktails for everyone. Not only will your shaker work impress everyone, but there’s also nothing like a night of homemade cocktails with friends.
While there are plenty of very elaborate cocktails that take practice to really be able to make, there are also plenty of much simpler, easier-to-make cocktails that you can prepare in the comfort of your own home without an extensive collection of ingredients.
Here are some of our favorite cocktails to make at home:
Gin and Tonic
This is a classic and refreshing cocktail that just about everyone can enjoy. Developed within the British East India Company, the gin and tonic originated as a medicinal beverage for the British soldiers. Nowadays, it’s a great cure for a dry throat. All you need to make a great gin and tonic is some gin, some tonic water, and an optional lime wedge for garnish. Simple right?
Gin and Tonic Ingredients:
- 2 ounces of gin
- 4 ounces of tonic water
- Lime wedge for garnish
How to make a gin and tonic:
- Fill your glass of choice with ice
- Pour the gin into the glass (over the ice)
- Top the glass off with the tonic water
- Garnish with the lime wedge
A nice little hack to elevate this drink a bit is to play around with your ice. You can make ice with tonic water to make sure your drink doesn’t dilute as the ice melts. Add some lime juice to the ice cubes, too, to get some citrus flavor in your drink as you sip.
Most people will enjoy a good martini, even if it’s just to get a kick out of sipping 007’s favorite drink. Like the gin and tonic, you don’t really need any equipment for this drink, either. Sure, a shaken martini is Bond’s preference, but the martini is traditionally stirred.
Gin Martini Ingredients:
- 2 ounces of gin
- 1 ounce of dry vermouth
- Olive or lemon twist for garnish
How to Make a Gin Martini:
- Fill a separate stirring glass with ice
- Pour the gin and the vermouth into your stirring glass and stir for about 10 seconds
- Strain the contents into your glass of choice
- Garnish with the olive or the lemon twist (or both, if you’re feeling adventurous)
This is the drink that can make or break a bartender. The drink has three simple ingredients and, in essence, is very simple to prepare. There’s nowhere to hide here, though—either you know how to prepare it or you don’t. Order a daiquiri at your favorite bar to see how your bartender stacks up, and practice your own daiquiri at home before serving a guest.
- 2 ounces of light rum
- 1 ounce of fresh lime juice
- ¾ ounce of simple syrup
- Lime twist to garnish
Equipped with a shaker this time, here’s how to make a daiquiri:
- Take all of your liquid ingredients into a shaker filled with ice
- Shake until chilled
- Strain the contents into your glass choice, a coupe works great
- Garnish with a lime twist
You might not have simple syrup lying around…yet. If you don’t, just combine equal parts sugar and water in a saucepan and bring the mixture to boil, stirring until the sugar has completely dissolved. Let cool, and you’ve got homemade simple syrup!
Another incredibly easy drink to make, the screwdriver is a great option for people who avoid harsher liquors and high ABV cocktails. It’s also great if you’re just craving some good, ice-cold OJ while everyone else is drinking.
No equipment needed here, you’re only going to need these ingredients:
- 2 ounces of vodka
- Orange juice
Perhaps the easiest cocktail you’ll make in your life, here’s how:
- Pour the vodka into a glass filled with ice
- Top the glass with the orange juice
Take this one slowly. It certainly doesn’t taste booze-y, but it’ll get you tipsy fast if you’re not careful.
A little bit fancier and with slightly rarer ingredients, the Manhattan is an incredibly simple cocktail to prepare (not to mention an absolute classic). It’s friendly enough for those just starting to get into the world of American whiskey, too, while being complex enough for seasoned veterans to enjoy fully.
- 2 ounces of rye (or bourbon)
- 1 ounce of sweet vermouth
- Angostura bitters
- Brandied cherry for garnish
How to make a Manhattan:
- Take your liquid ingredients into a separate mixing glass filled with ice
- Stir for about 10-15 seconds and strain into your chilled glass of choice, often a coupe
- Garnish with a brandied cherry