6 popular cocktail recipes that are the key to every other drink

Last Christmas I received the amazing Cocktail Codex. If you’re a cocktail nerd and want a deep dive into the world of bartending you should pick up a copy. I think of this book as the spiritual successor to the 1948 classic The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks.

They both hinge on one concept that blew my mind. Ready for this? There are only six core cocktails. And yeah, they’re the classics you probably thought of as “grown-up drinks” when you were a kid and saw someone order them on TV.

What are the six basic cocktails?

CocktailInventedBase Spirit
The Old-fashioned1895Whiskey
The Martini1911Gin or Vodka
The Daiquiri1898Rum
The Sidecar1922Cognac
The Whiskey High-ball1927Whiskey
The Flip1862Brandy, Rum, or Whiskey
The Six Core Cocktails

Master the classic cocktail list and look like a genius

If you take any of the classic cocktail recipes and substitute the spirit or one or two of the flavoring components, you can turn one cocktail recipe into several other variations.

Take the Daiquiri. The classic Daiquiri is rum, lime, and simple syrup. Substitute gin for the spirit and you have a Gimlet.

In this post, I’ll share the recipes for each of the six core cocktails, along with a few variations on the classic recipes. Save them into ClipDish so you can refer back to them at your next party, while enjoying the streamlined recipe view that ClipDish is known for.

1. The Old-Fashioned

Here is the classic Old-Fashioned from NY Times Cooking.

This variation from the Cocktail Contessa uses light brown sugar simple syrup.

2. The Martini

Here are two classic recipes, the Gin and the Vodka Martini.

3. The Daiquiri

I spent many years thinking a daiquiri was a frozen sugary drink with rum. Don’t get me wrong, those drinks have their place but this drink is a classic for a reason.

A good daiquiri is light and refreshing and is great for someone who doesn’t like a spirit-forward drink like an old-fashioned.

4. The Sidecar

The Sidecar, invented in the early 1920s, is a riff on the sour drink. You are more likely to have tried its cousin the margarita, which substitutes tequila and lime for the cognac and lemon.

5. The Whiskey Highball

My grandmother used to drink highballs every night before bed. Well, I don’t know about every night but whenever I stayed at her house as a kid (I hope I didn’t drive her to drink!) I would see her make one.

These are really simple to make – just whiskey and soda water, although my grandmother always used ginger ale.

This refreshing variation from the BBC adds mint leaves and lemon zest.

6. The Flip

The Flip cocktail evolved from a hot beverage known as “flip,” which originated in colonial America in the late 1600s. If you’ve ever sipped eggnog during the holidays, you’ve had a variation of the Flip.

Get these six simple cocktail recipes committed to memory, then experiment with your own variations by substituting the base spirit, or changing the flavoring component.

If you come up with an amazing variation, let us know in our Facebook Group.


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