Tired of beer and strong spirits at all of your parties? Would you like to mix cocktails that are not gin & tonic or screwdriver for a change? Good news then — the list of impressive cocktails to make at home is not limited to the above options. Neither does it have to include rum and cola or whiskey soda. You can take literally any strong drink (whiskey, gin, rum, vodka), mix it with several easily available ingredients, and impress your guests with a subtly intoxicating drink.

And the best part is — you will not need any special equipment — most of the recipes below can be mixed in glasses, without any prior bartending experience. For some of these mixes, you will need a shaker.  But, since it costs pennies and you are throwing a cocktail party anyway, the investment might be worth a couple of extra bucks.

Ready? Here goes the list of easy alcoholic drinks to make at home. These drinks require nothing but your best countertop ice maker heavily loaded, a shaker, some strong spirits, and a bit of motivation.

NETFLIX & PILLOWTALK

Despite its name, this cocktail is a huge adrenaline buster, so you may not end watching Netflix or pillow-talking. The basis is good old gin, but the recipe offers a way better alternative to the old gin and tonic mix (‘that’s already gone trite). While, technically, this cocktail has more than just a couple of ingredients, all of them are easily available in stores. As for mixing the actual   cocktail, ‘you’ll only need a shaker.

Ingredients

 1.5 oz gin

 0.5 oz apple brandy

 0.5 oz lemon juice

 0.5 oz vanilla-based syrup

 1 egg white

 1 dash lavender bitters

Preparation: simply mix all necessary ingredients in a shaker and give it a shake. Then, two or three ice cubes and shake again. The mix looks best cocktail coupes and tumblers.

Note: you do not need to go overboard with gin and brandy. Any affordable brand will do because the combination of sweet vanilla notes and a specific gin aroma will make it impossible to see the difference between ‘Gordon’s and Generous Gin— even for savvy gin lovers. In fact, the toughest thing about mixing this cocktail is separating the egg white (psss… if you ‘don’t want to, the cocktail will still be fine). 

TORTUGA

Our next cocktail basis is rum, and rum means pirates. So, why not give Tortuga a try? Once again, the only piece of equipment ‘you’ll need is a shaker, and all of the Tortuga ingredients are easily available in most stores. The cocktail is a refreshing alternative to most rum-based mixes, and can be a nice addition to pirate-themed and classical parties.

Ingredients:

2 oz Rum

Dash cinnamon powder

Dash orange juice

Dash lemon juice

0.5 oz simple syrup

Preparation: mix the ingredients with ice cubes and shake. Serve in any glass with two or three fresh ice cubes. If you want to make the pirate effect complete, add heavily sugared ginger on a skewer.

Note: the original recipe calls for El Dorado 8yr Rum, but if you are not a rum gourmet, you can use any other dark rum of your choosing. Cinnamon, orange, lemon and sweet syrup, combined with the natural sweetness of any rum you choose should blend in perfectly. Do consider garnishing with ginger, though. After all, cocktails are not just about the taste, but also about appearances.

OLD FASHIONED

Yes, is ‘it’s an old-fashioned recipe, so not exactly original. On the other hand, most bartenders seem to their their own cocktail recipes of old-fashioned, so why not come up with a version of your own for the party? For this good old babe, you ‘won’t even need a shaker — you can mix all ingredients directly in glasses. After all, ‘that’s the old-fashioned way.

  Ingredients

1 sugar cube or ½ tsp. sugar

2 dashes Angostura bitters

2 oz. whiskey

Splash of water

Garnish: lemon or orange twist

Preparation: mix sugar, bitters, and a bit of water directly in the serving glass. Carefully stir with a spoon until the sugar dissolves. Then, add your whiskey and a large cube of ice. Garnish with an orange or a lemon twist.

Note: there is quite a lot of argument about the best kind of whiskey for old-fashioned. The surest way is to choose any brand you like. Some may even suggest substituting whiskey with bourbon, but you should only consider this if ‘you’re a bourbon fan. The old-fashioned cocktail does not have too many ingredients interfering with the whiskey’s taste and aroma. So, the best choice would be to go with quality single-malt whiskey you like most.

Also, note that some recipes allow several ice cubes in each glass. But if you really want to bring out an old-fashioned look, one big solid rock is a better idea.

HOT TODDY

That’s one more recipe that can be made either with bourbon or whiskey. So, ‘let’s make this one hot for a change! Once again, the ingredients are widely available, and you will not need any special equipment — not even a shaker.

Ingredients

8 oz hot water

1 tea bag

2 oz bourbon

1 tbsp honey

1 tsp lemon juice

1 lemon slice

Preparation: steep a tea bag for a couple of minutes. Then, remove the bag and add bourbon, honey, and lemon juice in hot water. Mix together and garnish with a lemon slice.

Note: this may not be one of the classic cocktails for parties, but it surely has what it takes to warm guests up on cold nights. In fact, with fall (and soon winter) upon us, this cocktail could be a nice addition to the list of common drinks for a rainy night. Even though Hot Toddy is more of a casual mix that does not have too much alcohol, it’s still an intoxicating cocktail. So, be careful — Toddy can prove trickier than it seems.

HAIRY NAVEL

Now, how about a bit of vodka to wrap up the list of our cocktail recipes by ingredient? After all, quality vodka can make an amazing base for plenty of deliciously intoxicating mixes. But, instead of just going with good old classics like Bloody Mary and White Russian, ‘let’s make a peachy mix — something strong enough for the gentlemen and sweet enough for the ladies.

Ingredients

1 ounce vodka

1 ounce peach schnapps

8 ounces orange juice

Preparation: put the ingredients in a glass or a shaker and mix. Add 2-3 ice cubes or garnish with an orange peel (or both).

Note: once again, you do not need to go with an expensive vodka to mix Hairy Navels. If you want to make your cocktails stronger (the above variation is relatively soft), mix 2 oz of vodka instead of just one. To compensate for its simplicity, you may also go with a freshly squeezed orange juice instead of bottled, ready-made version. Ice cubes and some orange peel will only make this impression compete, turning a simplistic mix into a totally acceptable night drink.

See, mixing cocktails is not something only bartenders can do. Besides, like any other job, cocktail mixing leaves quite a lot of room for creativity, so you can always experiment with new ingredients and add new flavors. And what are your easy cocktails recipes for parties? Any other ideas on how you can make a good impression without too much fuss or — better yet — with ingredients you usually have at hand?

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