15 Classic Cocktails Every Bartender Should Know

Starting a bartending gig? Here are the top cocktail recipes you should know.

Starting your first bartending shift? Congratulations! Bartending is a fast-paced gig that offers the opportunity to meet new people, earn tips, and channel your inner mixologist.

If you haven’t worked behind a bar before, it might seem intimidating. There's a lot to learn when you're starting out -- the names of the liquors behind the bar, the rules for the perfect pour, and the precise measurements to make the right cocktail. 

To help you get a head start on the ins and outs of bartending, we’ve put together a list of the top 15 cocktail recipes every new bartender should know. As a bartender, you’ll likely find yourself making these drinks multiple times a day, so it’s best to brush up on these recipes. 

Let’s get started!

Aperol Spritz

  • 3 ounces Aperol
  • 3 ounces Prosecco
  • 1 ounce of club soda or unflavored sparkling water
  • Orange slice for garnish

Best served in a wine glass.

Instructions

  • Add ice to a wine glass. 
  • Pour in the Aperol, followed by the Prosecco. 
  • Top off the drink with a splash of club soda or sparkling water. 
  • Add an orange slice for garnish.

Bloody Mary

  • 1 teaspoon sea salt
  • ¾ cup of spicy tomato-vegetable juice
  • 1 ounce of vodka
  • 2 dashes of Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 dash of hot pepper sauce
  • Salt and black pepper to taste
  • 1 celery stalk for garnish

Best served in a highball glass.

Instructions

  • Rim your glass with sea salt.
  • Fill your glass with ice cubs. Add the vodka, tomato juice, hot pepper sauce, Worcestershire sauce, and salt and pepper to a shaker. 
  • Cover the shaker and shake vigorously for roughly 20 seconds. 
  • Strain the mixture into your glass of ice. 
  • Add a celery stalk, lemon wedge, and lime wedge for garnish.

Cosmopolitan

  • 1.5 ounces of vodka
  • ¼ ounce of lime juice
  • ¼ ounce of triple sec
  • ¼ ounce of cranberry juice
  • 1 cup of ice
  • Lime wedge for garnish

Best served in a martini glass. 

Instructions

  • Add vodka, lime juice, triple sec, and cranberry juice to a cocktail shaker.
  • Top off the shaker with ice, cover, and shake vigorously until chilled. 
  • Strain the mixture into a chilled glass and garnish with a lime wedge.

Daiquiri

  • 2 ounces of light rum
  • 1 ounce of lime juice
  • ½ ounce of simple syrup

Best served in a coupe or martini glass.

Instructions

  • Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add rum, lime juice, and simple syrup. 
  • Shake vigorously for roughly 20 seconds. 
  • Strain the mixture into a glass.

Espresso Martini

  • 2 ounces of vodka
  • ½ ounce of coffee liqueur
  • 1 ounce of espresso or cold brew concentrate
  • ½ ounce of simple syrup
  • 2 to 3 espresso or coffee beans for garnish

Best served in a coupe glass. 

Instructions

  • If using freshly brewed espresso, brew it first and allow it to cool completely. 
  • Add ice to a cocktail shaker followed by the espresso, simple syrup, coffee liqueur, and vodka.
  • Shake the mixture vigorously in order to form a foam. 
  • Strain the mixture quickly into a martini glass. Top with coffee or espresso beans for garnish.

Gin and Tonic

  • 2 ounces of gin
  • 4 ounces of tonic water
  • Lime wedge for garnish

Best served in a high ball glass.

Instructions

  • Fill a glass with ice. Add gin, top with tonic water, and gently stir. 
  • Add a lime wedge for garnish.

Long Island Iced Tea

  • ¾ ounce of vodka
  • ¾ ounce of white rum
  • ¾ ounce of silver tequila
  • ¾ ounce of gin
  • ¾ ounce of simple syrup
  • ¾ ounce of lemon juice
  • 1 ounce of cola
  • Lemon wedge for garnish

Best served in a highball glass.

Instructions

  • Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add vodka, rum, gin, tequila, triple sec, then cover and shake. 
  • Pour the mixture into a glass and top it off with the cola. 
  • Add a lemon wedge for garnish.

Manhattan

  • 2 ounces of rye whiskey
  • 1 ounce of sweet vermouth 
  • 2 dashes of Angostura bitters 
  • 1 cherry for garnish

Best served in a martini glass.

Instructions

  • Fill a glass with ice. Add the rye, vermouth, and bitters to the glass. 
  • Stir completely before straining the mixture into a chilled glass. 
  • Garnish with a cherry. 

Margarita

  • 2 ounces of blanco tequila
  • ½ ounce of orange liqueur
  • 1 ounce of lime juice
  • ½ ounce of agave syrup
  • Lime wedge for garnish 

Best served in a margarita or rocks glass.

Instructions

  • Fill a shaker with ice. Add tequila, orange liqueur, lime juice, and agave syrup to the shaker.
  • Shake until chilled. 
  • Moisten the edge of your glass and rim with salt. 
  • Fill the glass with ice and strain the mixture into the glass.

Martini

  • 2 ounces of dry gin or vodka
  • 1 ounce of dry vermouth

Best served in a martini glass.

Instructions

  • Add your liquor of choice and vermouth to a cocktail shaker filled with ice. For a Dirty Martini, add 1 to 3 teaspoons of olive brine.
  • Stir the mixture for roughly 30 seconds until it’s cold.
  • Strain the mixture into a cold martini glass.
  • Garnish with a lemon twist or olives. 

Mojito

  • 2 ounces of white rum
  • 1 ounce of fresh lime juice
  • ½ ounce of simple syrup
  • Club soda or sparkling water
  • Lime slices for garnish
  • Mint leaves

Best served in a highball glass.

Instructions

  • In a cocktail shaker, muddle mint leaves gently. 
  • Add ice, rum, lime juice, and simple syrup. 
  • Strain the mixture into a glass filled with ice. 
  • Top off with club soda.
  • Garnish with lime and mint leaves.

Moscow Mule 

  • 1.5 ounces of vodka
  • ½ ounce of lime juice
  • ½ cup of ginger beer
  • Lime wedge

Best served in a copper mug.

Instructions

  • Pour vodka and lime juice into a copper mug. 
  • Add ice cubes and top off with ginger beer. 
  • Stir the mixture.
  • Add a lime wedge for garnish.

Negroni 

  • 1 ounce of gin
  • 1 ounce of Campari
  • 1 ounce of sweet vermouth
  • Orange peel for garnish

Best served in a rocks glass. 

Instructions

  • Fill a glass with ice. 
  • Add gin, Campari, and vermouth to the glass.
  • Stir until chilled. 
  • Strain the mixture into a glass with one large ice cube. 
  • Add an orange peel for garnish.

Old Fashion

  • 1 teaspoon of sugar
  • 3 dashes of Angostura bitters
  • 1 teaspoon of water
  • 2 ounces of bourbon 
  • Orange twist for garnish

Best served in a rocks glass.

Instructions

  • Add sugar, bitters, and water into a mixing glass. 
  • Stir together until the sugar is nearly dissolved.
  • In a mixing glass filled with ice, add the bourbon and stir until chilled. 
  • Strain the mixture into a glass with one large ice cube. 
  • Add an orange twist to the glass for garnish.

Whiskey Sour

  • 2 ounces of bourbon
  • ¾ ounce of fresh lemon juice
  • ¾ ounce of simple syrup
  • Orange wheel for garnish
  • Cherry for garnish

Best served in a sour glass.

Instructions

  • Add bourbon, lemon juice, and simple syrup to a cocktail shaker. 
  • Add ice to the shaker and shake vigorously for roughly 20 seconds. 
  • Strain the mixture into a glass filled with ice. 
  • Garnish with the orange wheel and cherry. 

Cheers to Your New Start

While each bar might have their own unique cocktail menu, these are standard drinks that you’ll encounter on a regular basis. Practice makes perfect and before you know it, you’ll be making these drinks with your eyes closed! 

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