Cocktails turn drinking into a skillset. Offering a lady your bottle of Fireball won’t impress her, even though it’s incredibly generous because if that’s what you’re drinking it’s probably all your Earthly possessions. Offering a beer is just basic courtesy (and let’s be honest: James Bond doesn’t drink beer for a reason). But offering a cocktail says, “I know how to do complicated things which will make you feel good.”
Unfortunately most “beginner” cocktail guides put the word “beginner” in quotation marks for a reason. They promise to introduce the most essential recipes and then start throwing around terms like “simple syrup” and “fresh lime juice.” That’s like asking a new student to arrive at karate class with the guns of four muggers. Those are things he’ll definitely have when he’s an expert, and he’ll will enjoy it, but at the beginning all it does is ensure he’ll never get to the dojo.
That’s why we’re offering a real beginners guide to drinks. Every drink below is easy to make, every ingredient can be bought in bottles at the the liquor store or supermarket, and those bottles can be used for many other drinks. No need to thank us; just remember to name any children after us who were conceived after pouring one of these for a lady.
A famous name, fun going down, absolutely beautiful and almost no effort. It’s the mixed drink equivalent of dreaming about Milla Jovovich. The Tequila Sunrise is an oil painting in a glass, and despite invoking the name of Mexican Mistakewater it’s easier to drink than an alcopop and much better tasting.
‣ 1 ½ oz clear tequila
‣ 6 oz orange juice
‣ ½ oz grenadine (red DESCRIPTION syrup, you’ll find it in the soft drinks and diluted-stuff aisle of a good large supermarket)
‣ OPTION: 2 – 3 oz club soda for a fizzier and lighter drink
Shake tequila and orange juice, pour into ice-filled tall glass. Pour grenadine into the glass. Serve quickly so that they can enjoy the beautiful rippling effect.
This drink is the overlap between experts and amateurs and both sides love it. Non-mixers are impressed with the visual effect, the alcoholic equivalent of a lava lamp, and unlike most modern colored concoctions it’s great-tasting and has decades of history. The Tequila Sunrise is one of the few things to party through the 70s and still be cool today.
You already know this drink from The Big Lebowski, and when you try it you’ll understand why it’s the one thing even a stoned Jeff Bridges deigned to remember.
‣ 2 oz vodka
‣ 1 oz Kahlua
‣ 1 oz cream
Stir vodka and Kahlua in an ice-filled old fashioned glass (wide and short, but hell, use a mug or whatever. Drinkers abide, man.) Pour cream over the ice. An excellent drink for those lightening up by lighting up as the resulting patterns turn this into an alcoholic lava lamp.
This is less a classic cocktail than it is a life improvement formula, and it’s an extremely classic cocktail. If we were still allowed to drink at work this is what water coolers would be filled with, and the banking crisis would never have happened. Coffee, alcohol, and calcium – when COFFEE GUY, Don Draper and Mr. T agree on a drink no-one could dare object. The combination of caffeine and ethanol makes a mockery of the alcoholic energy drinks, all of which taste like an Alien bled over a candy factory. This drink combines both sides of the “liquids which make your brain better” spectrum. UP
No cocktail hardware or special steps, just pour and stir. If the ingredients were any more easily available you’d be be breathing them. This is an easier way to feel better than falling asleep.
‣ 2 oz scotch or bourbon (or any whisky you like, though it drink claims to have a different name then. No points for guessing what’s used in the brilliantly-named Canadian Bastard.)
‣ 1 oz amaretto.
Shake and serve in ice-filled glass
This is the only cocktail which can still cause introspection and deep thoughts about the direction your life is taking even if you can’t make it. Because if you don’t have any scotch or bourbon in the house you’re doing something wrong. (Experienced barmen are meanwhile laughing at the “or” in that sentence.) It helps you get over the amateur idea that Scotches are to be respected – if any English speaker believed that their history would have been very different.
It’s also an excellent recycling option, as exploring the fruits of Scotland and Kentucky will inevitably lead to a few violently bad things. Just like exploring the real places. This mix can reprocess even the most undrinkable firewater, and is outright gorgeous when made with decent stuff. No-one knows what it’s like with really good Scotch, because anyone stupid enough to make it didn’t know enough about drink to explain the taste.
Blood and Sand
‣ 1 oz scotch
‣ 1 oz orange juice
‣ ¾ oz cherry brandy (preferably cherry heering)
‣ ¾ oz sweet vermouth
Shake all ingredients with ice, pour into chilled cocktail glass
The easiest way to fool people into thinking you’re an expert, and sort of being right, because anyone who serves us this drink can call themselves whatever they want. Scotch is known to be a tricky cocktail ingredient, but scotch and orange juice is outright heresy – which is why you’ll look like a genius when it works. This easy-mixing but complicated-tasting drink has something for everyone, easy to drink for everyone but enough sophisticated flavor to shut up anyone even thinking about being a drinks snob.
It’s a glass of pure class. It’s named for a black and white silent Rudolph Valentino movie about a Matador having a threesome, and paralleling a famous band. Both the movie and drink were made during the Prohibition, showing exactly what bartenders thought of that bit of historical stupidity.
It requires a couple of odd extra bottles, especially the vermouth, but when these drinks get you into cocktails you’ll find those very useful.
Now that you know how to make some great drinks, perfect your technique with Luke’s Man’s Guide to Mixing. –>