These Easy Cocktail Recipes are All You Need

Whether you're hosting a party or simply relaxing at home, it's not necessary to have a roster of fancy cocktail recipes on hand. Classic cocktails are simple yet elegant and easy enough to put together on the spur of the moment. They're also easy to modify with different flavors and ingredients. Here are some classic cocktail recipes to try for your next gathering:

Bloody Mary

  • 4 oz. tomato juice or Bloody Mary mix
  • 2 oz. vodka
  • 1 tsp. celery salt
  • 1/2 tsp. black pepper
  • 1/4 tsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • Dash of cayenne pepper
  • Lemon wedge
  • Celery stick

The Bloody Mary is a classic brunch cocktail that's easy to make. Simply combine the juice, vodka and seasonings, then garnish with the lemon wedge and celery stick.

This cocktail is traditionally served over ice in a tall glass.

There are lots of ways to modify the basic Bloody Mary. You can add more spice with extra cayenne or a few drops of hot sauce. Or, you can get creative with garnishes. Try adding olives or cocktail onions to your Bloody Mary; some restaurants have been known to dress up these drinks with pickle spears and bacon slices.

Cape Cod

  • 3 oz. cranberry juice
  • 2 oz. vodka

The Cape Cod is super-simple to make; just combine the two ingredients in a highball glass over ice.

It's easy to dress this drink up for special occasions. Add a lime wedge and some fresh cranberries for a festive garnish, or turn this drink into a spritzer by adding sparkling water, clear soda, or ginger ale. To add a candy-like sweetness to the Cape Cod, add a splash of Amaretto liqueur.

Manhattan

  • 2 oz. whiskey
  • 1/2 oz. sweet vermouth
  • Dash of bitters
  • Maraschino cherry

The Manhattan is a classy cocktail that's easier to make than you might think. Simply combine the whiskey and vermouth, add the bitters and garnish with the cherry. Traditionally, this drink is served in a chilled cocktail glass.

If you're looking for a twist on the classic Manhattan, try making what's known as a "perfect" Manhattan by adding equal parts sweet and dry vermouth. Or, make it dry with dry vermouth and leave the sweet vermouth out altogether. A Rob Roy is a cocktail that's basically a Manhattan, the only difference is that it's made with Scotch instead of whiskey.

Martini

  • 3 oz. vodka
  • 1 oz. dry vermouth
  • 1 cup ice cubes
  • 3 olives

To make a traditional martini, combine the vodka and vermouth in a cocktail shaker, add the ice, then stir or shake until chilled. Pour into a martini glass and garnish with the olives.

The martini is perhaps the most famous cocktail and the easiest to modify with creative variations. To make a Dirty Martini, swap the olives for cocktail onions. An apple martini is made by trading the vermouth for sour apple liqueur. To make a chocolate martini, use cacao liqueur instead of vermouth and add a splash of half-and-half.

Margarita

  • 2 oz. tequila
  • 1 oz. triple sec
  • 3/4 oz. lime juice
  • Lime wedge
  • Salt

The first step when making a margarita is to prep your glass. Line the rim of a rocks glass or cocktail glass with lime juice (by running the lime wedge over the rim) and salt; the juice will cause the salt to stick. To make the cocktail, combine the tequila, triple sec and lime juice and add ice. Garnish with the lime wedge.

One of the most popular variations on the margarita is to make it frozen. Simply add the ingredients with ice to a blender and blend until the ice reaches the desired consistency. If you like a sweeter margarita, add a little agave nectar.

White Russian

  • 1 part vodka
  • 1 part coffee liqueur
  • 1 part half-and-half

Combine all ingredients in a chilled glass, then add ice if desired. The great thing about a White Russian is that you can make a small one or a tall one with no measuring; the ratio of ingredients is equal.

To give this drink a chocolate flavor, add a dash of cacao liqueur.

Stocking Your Bar Cart

A well-stocked bar cart can help make entertaining easier. When stocking your cart, start with versatile spirits that can be used to make lots of different drinks. A good place to start for any at-home bartender is with whiskey, vodka, gin and tequila. From there, complementary liquors, mixers and garnishes can be added.

A Wide Selection of Bar Essentials

Pottery Barn has bar carts of all sizes, in a variety of styles and designs. There are sleek, modern carts and those with a more traditional flair, so it's easy to find one that suits your space. There's also barware and serving accessories to make your next cocktail party a success.

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