When making cocktails at home (or anywhere for that matter) you’ll always have different types of guests. Yes, you’ll definitely have the ones that eat all your food (even the stuff that was frozen) or spill wine over your new rug, but what I’m referring to here is the spectrum of tastes when it comes to cocktails. As much as I do like sangria or punch, it’s pretty hard to make everyone happy with the same thing, as tasty as it may be.
For that reason I’ve created a short list of go-to cocktails that are incredibly easy to make, catered to your guests’ diverse taste in spirits and, more importantly, are guaranteed to knock it out of the park every time.
For those with a sweeter tooth and a taste for citrus.
Shaken, ice cold and with tons of fresh lemon or lime. If you hear “I don’t want to taste the liquor” or want “something easy to drink that’s bright,” I’d point you to a Daiquiri: three ingredients, finely tuned into a delicious cocktail that may be TOO easy to drink. The secret to these is that you don’t want to go too sweet, since the rum (assuming you have a good sugarcane-based one) is a bit sweet itself.
- 2 ounces quality white rum
- 1 ounce fresh lime juice
- 3/4 ounce simple syrup
Pour the ingredients into a shaker with ice;
shake fast until chilled, then double strain.
For the spirits-forward, rum/whiskey aficionado.
Stirred drinks are hard to beat for those who like strong drinks that aren’t too sweet and have little to no citrus, and for that, an Old Fashioned is the way to go. Long gone are the days of muddled cherries and orange. Now its some quality bourbon, a couples dashes of your favorite bitters, a bit of sugar and ice. Guaranteed to delight those who enjoy Manhattans & Sazeracs alike.
- 2 1/2 ounces bourbon whiskey
- Angostura bitters
- Simple syrup
Add 3 to 4 dashes of bitters, a small dash of simple syrup and the whiskey, and gently stir with ice until chilled and diluted; strain.
For when pacing and composure are best played.
Low-alcohol cocktails are out there, it’s just hard to find them at times without looking like a straight up party pooper. If you hear “something light, not too boozy but still tasty,” go with the tried-and-true Pimm’s Cup — flavorful to the last sip and guaranteed to hold up with the person next to you sipping on a Martini.
- 2 ounces Pimm’s No.1
- 1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice
- English cucumber pieces
- Ginger beer
Muddle the cucumber and add the lemon juice and Pimm’s to the shaker. Shake with ice and strain; top up with ginger beer.
Sometimes there’s just a need for a strong drink.
Perhaps it’s a fancy party (perhaps your guest wants to feel fancy) or maybe it’s just one of those days we all have where you need a stiff drink. A gin Martini is hard to beat and a Hendrick’s Martini is my all-time go-to with its broad appeal due to its inviting flavor.
- 3 ounces of quality gin
- 3/4 ounce dry vermouth
Add the liquors to a mixing glass with ice;
stir until chilled and diluted, then strain.
Photo credit: Raul Zelaya