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11 Easy Cocktails that Don’t Suck

11 Easy Cocktails that Don’t Suck

The downside of the recent cocktail resurgence is there are a ton of delicious recipes that depend on ingredients you can’t reasonably be expected to have at home. They’re made of things that come from countries we’ve never heard of, in glassware we thought were props in J.J. Abrams’s latest movie, and served in bars you access through the phone booth at the back of Grand Central Station’s private barbershop.

It makes you forget that the best cocktails are the ones that stand the test of time, with simple steps, accessible mixers, and minimal preparation time. If you’re going to spend time mixing cocktails, you should choose ones that give you plenty of time to visit with the people you’re mixing them for. Here are 11 easy cocktails you’ll love.

Apple Cider Rum Punch

Apple Cider Rum Punch is the perfect drink for an easy night in with friends or family. It’s super simple to make, where you just dump a bunch of different liquids into a pitcher and mix it. Putting it in the fridge for the hour recommended is probably a good idea, as it’ll keep it cold without watering anything down the way ice does, but that does mean a little more planning is necessary. Making two wouldn’t be a bad idea either. Get one on the table right away and leave one in the fridge to chill. And unless you’re entertaining the whole neighborhood, having two pitchers ready to go should keep you well supplied with punch for the whole night. Recipe

Orange Bourbon Apple Cider

Don’t let the name of this recipe’s website (My Darling Vegan) keep you from trying this recipe. It’s fruity, spicy, and has plenty of whiskey. It’s also one of those mulled drinks we like so much, where you mix everything in a saucepan and heat it to extract and blend flavors. For those types, you can also use a slow cooker. That way, there’s even less effort, as you can dump it all in the Crock-Pot in the early afternoon and have it ready for dinner. Recipe

Gold Rush

We rarely use honey when we’re mixing cocktails and we’re slowly realizing this is a horrible oversight. Putting honey in drinks creates a distinct flavor nothing in the world can replicate, as well as smoothing out the drink, making it exceptionally easy to drink. With the honey syrup, the Gold Rush is a smooth, sweet, and sour whiskey cocktail, like if bees took distilling as a side project. This drink is part of the long tradition of making whiskey cocktails that are dangerously drinkable and is probably best limited to one or two to keep the night manageable. Recipe


The recipe might give you a choice between ginger ale and ginger beer, but for us, the latter is the only option. Nothing against ginger ale, as it’s a great mixer and has a lot to offer the world of cocktails. But if you’re going to make a cocktail with three ingredients, ginger beer is much better at not diluting taste. This is more of a summer drink, as gin drinks tend to be, but no matter the time of year, if you’re looking for something new, or want to experiment with some gin and tonic cousins, the Foghorn delivers. Recipe

Gin Rickey

The Gin Rickey is essentially a gin and tonic for people who are put off by the tonic. It’s sweeter, has a little more gin, gets a lime garnish, and takes the same amount of effort. There’s also a good chance you’ve already made this and called it a gin and tonic. If that’s the case, then consider this less a drink recommendation and more a clarification. This is another drink better suited to warmer weather, but again, we’re not going to tell you when you can or can’t drink a delicious cocktail. Recipe

Salted Caramel Eggnog

Eggnog’s always a bit bland for us, so adding salted caramel gives it the extra flavor it’s always needed. From there, add your favorite eggnog spiker. The recipe asks for rum, but spiking with Irish whiskey, bourbon, rye, brandy, or any brown liquor really is going to work. Come to think of it, the only liquor that might not work here is gin, but we’re still not going to try to convince you not to try it. An added benefit to changing up your standard eggnog is that you’ll be celebrated as a genius during whatever event you’re hosting. Recipe

Apple Cranberry Moscow Mule

The original Moscow Mule is fine, but there is room for improvement. Enter apple and cranberry. Both flavors naturally pair well with ginger and cranberry is already known for how well it matches with vodka. In the interest of keeping things simple, we recommend skipping the cranberries the recipe has as a garnish. It doesn’t add much beyond looking good for pictures. Recipe

New York Sour

The whiskey sour isn’t plagued by the same problems as the Moscow Mule (namely, being kind of generic), but it could still be improved with a little something added. Basically all you have to do for this one is make a whiskey sour, then float red wine on top. Floating sounds like it takes weird mixing and special equipment, but it’s really fairly simple. If you’ve ever made a Half and Half with Guinness and Harp, you know what to do. Just pour the red wine into the drink over the back of a spoon and the red wine should stay separated from the rest of the cocktail. It might take some practice, but once you get it, you’ll look like a pro. Recipe

Basil Bourbon Mule

The reason we were draw to this Mule is mainly the basil. Basil is usually mixed with gin or vodka, so the bourbon caught us a little by surprise. Not in a bad way though, because this is one of the best twists on the mule format since someone first put bourbon in it. This is a drink that works all year round, as long as you can get your hands on fresh basil. If you can’t, you could probably settle for a bourbon mule. But still, go for the basil. Recipe

The Classic Manhattan

Simple drinks don’t have to be new inventions. The Manhattan has lasted this long because everyone can make it and it’s delicious. As long as you get the proportions somewhere in the ballpark, you’re going to end up with a legacy cocktail you can drink until you’re a thousand years old, which is almost as long as this drink’s been around. Long story short, learn to make yourself a Manhattan. It’s the greatest cocktail ROI on the books. Recipe

Rob Roy

The Rob Roy isn’t much more than a Manhattan made with scotch and it doesn’t have to be. Using Scotch instead of the usual rye (and remember, it is rye) changes the base and adds a lot more smoke to the recipe. That can be alienating to some, but for those of us who love a good smoky whisky, this is the twist a Manhattan needed to bring in scotch drinkers. And don’t worry about the people who say you’re not supposed to mix with scotch. They’re just bitter they didn’t invite the Rob Roy themselves. Recipe

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