The Most Popular Mixed Drinks (with Recipes)

The holiday season is upon us once again and that means a few things – cold weather for some of us, holiday weight gain for most of us, presents we don’t really like but pretend to love and of course, holiday parties galore. If you’re throwing a holiday party this year, take a few minutes to perfect these popular mixed drinks so you can really impress your guests and make sure everyone has a great time. Learning how to make these popular mixed drinks should give you the skills you need to make something everyone will love but don’t let this list limit you. If you love mixing drinks, why not experiment and try to come up with your own signature beverage? There are tons of options out there. Play around with different combinations and see what you like. If something sounds good, try it! One final note before we begin: the average shot glass holds roughly 45ml. Very few of these drinks call for exactly one shot of liquor. Okay, are we ready? Let’s get started.

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While perhaps not the most well known drink on our list, this twist on the Manhattan is definitely popular and delicious enough to warrant inclusion. This surprisingly tasty treat will be a huge hit at your holiday party and the best part? It’s not really all that difficult to make although you may have to stock your bar with a few things you may not buy otherwise. To make a Bellini, you’ll need:

  • 1 tsp. lemon juice
  • 1 oz. peach schnapps
  • 2 oz. peach nectar
  • 3 oz. dry champagne, chilled
  • 1/2 cup crushed ice

Mix your lemon juice, peach nectar and peach schnapps in a chilled glass. Add in your crushed ice (you can add more than 1/2 cup if so desired) and finish up with your champagne. This recipe will make two cocktails you and your guests will absolutely love.

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Bloody Mary

While some think Bloody Marys are only good for the morning after a party, that simply isn’t true. This delicious cocktail will make a fine addition to your holiday party cocktail list but be sure you stock up on a few extra ingredients for this one. You might be surprised just how many people will opt for this one if you put it on your drinks meny. To make the best Bloody Mary you’ve ever tasted, you’ll need:

  • 0.5 oz. lemon juice
  • pinch of salt
  • pinch of pepper
  • red hot sauce
  • green hot sauce
  • dash Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 oz. vodka
  • 3 oz. tomato juice
  • celery salt
  • celery stick
  • 2 mixing glasses
  • 1 highball glass
  • ice
  • strainer

Add your ingredients together in one mixing glass. Pour back and forth between the first and second mixing glass a few times, ensuring all of the ingredients are mixed well. Salt the rim of your highball glass with your celery salt and add ice to the highball glass, making sure not to disturb your salted rim. Strain your drink into the glass and garnish with celery stalk.

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Here’s what I like about the Caipirinha. It’s a versatile drink that can be adjusted to suit just about any taste. I love the black cherry caipirnha that seems to  be so popular as well as a few of the other flavor variations out there but for this article, I’m going to stick with the basic cocktail. You can play around with the flavors and offer your guests a choice of variations if you’d like but the basic drink is sure to please all on its own. To make a Caipirinha, you’ll need:

  • 1 1/2 oz. vodka
  • 1 1/2 oz. limeade
  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1/4 lime
  • ice cubes
  • 2 spoons crushed ice
  • spoon

Cut your lime into a few chunks to start. Toss your lime chunks and your sugar into a cocktail glass. Mash the limes and the sugar against the bottom and sides of your glass with your spoon and add in your ice cubes. Add in your crushed ice. Pour in your vodka and then your limeade. Stir your drink until all of the contents are well mixed. Serve.

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As with the Caipirinha, there are lots of different things you can do with a Cosmopolitan to change up the taste to suit what you like. You can offer a few different variations of this one as well and I’d even recommend doing so. Cosmos as always a hit at holiday parties, especially if you get them right. Instead of offering up a whole series of recipes, I’ll walk you through the basic cocktail and you can play around with variations on your own. To make a Cosmopolitan your guests will love, you’ll need:

  • 1/2 oz. triple sec
  • 1/2 oz. lime juice
  • 1/2 oz. cranberry juice
  • 1 oz. vodka
  • ice
  • lime wedge
  • strainer
  • shaker
  • martini glass

Start out by combining your triple sec, lime juice, cranberry juice and vodka in your shaker. Add in ice and shake until the drink is well mixed. You can take a bit of orange, lime or lemon zest and zest the rim of your glass if you like but that’s optional. Strain the drink from your shaker into your martini glass. Finish it off by garnishing the drink with a lime wedge on the rim of the glass.

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Cuba Libre

The Cuba Libre is always a popular choice when offered up at parties and it will most definitely keep your guests happy. It also isn’t a terribly difficult drink to make using only ingredients commonly found in any well stocked home bar. To make a Cuba Libre, you’ll need:

  • 2 oz of light rum
  • juice from 1/2 lime
  • cola
  • ice cubes
  • lime wedge
  • highball glass

Start by putting a few ice cubes in your highball glass and squeezing the juice from half a lime in over them. Add in your rum and fill the rest off the glass with cola. Finish up by garnishing your drink with a lime wedge on the rim of the glass. If you want a stronger drink, add a few extra ice cubes so there will be less cola in the glass. While the ice will melt, this drink is far too tasty to stick around long enough to worry about the melting ice diluting the drink a whole lot.

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There are so many variations of the Daiquiri out there it was a little hard to decide which one I should put on this list. There are avocado daiquiris, apple daiquiris, banana daiquiris, strawberry daiquiris … you get the point. I decided to go with the daiquiri natural because it offers you the basics of the drink and gives you an idea of what you can change up to make the drink more suited to your or to your guests. For the Daiquiri Natural, you’ll need:

  • 1/4 to 1/2 oz. sugar syrup
  • 3/4 oz. lime juice
  • 2 oz. white rum
  • ice cubes
  • shaker
  • strainer
  • cocktail glass, chilled

Throw some ice cubes into your shaker and add your syrup, lime juice and rum. Shake well until everything is mixed well. Strain your drink into your chilled cocktail glass. Garnish as desired and serve.

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Mai Tai

This is the only cocktail on this list I’ll offer two recipes for because they’re both excellent recipes that produce delicious cocktails and they’re both easy enough that even the novice mixer can make them. I always wanted to offer up to Mai Tai recipes because they’re easily one of the most popular mixed drinks out there right now so your guests will be sure to love them. To make the first Mai Tai you’ll need:

  • 1 tsp. sugar
  • 1/4 oz. lime juice
  • 1/2 oz. orange juice
  • 1/2 oz. lemon juice
  • 3/4 oz. triple sec
  • 1 1/2 oz. dark rum
  • 1 1/2 oz. white rum
  • 2 oz. pineapple juice
  • ice cubes
  • hurricane glass

Put your ice into the hurricane glass and add all of your other ingredients. You can add more or less sugar depending on sweet you want the drink to be. Stir well and garnish however you like.

For the second Mai Tai, you’ll need:

  • club soda
  • 1/2 oz. armaretto liqueur
  • 1 oz. triple sec
  • 1 oz. orange juice
  • 1 oz. pineapple juice
  • 1 1/2 oz. grenadine
  • 2 oz. white rum
  • 2 oz. dark rum
  • ice cubes
  • highball glass

Add some ice cubes to your high ball glass and pour in the remaining ingredients. Stir everything together until well blending and garnish as you like.

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There are a few ways to make a Manhattan but my favorite is also probably the easiest. It’s very fuss-free but is sure to please any fans of the drink who will be attending your party. I’m leaving the garnish out of the recipe because I feel this is a drink you can garnish however you see fit. To make the perfect Manhattan, you’ll need:

  • bitters (you’ll only need a dash)
  • 1/2 oz. sweet vermouth
  • 1/2. oz. dry vermouth
  • 2 oz. blended whiskey
  • ice

Put a little ice in a glass and add your vermouth, whiskey and bitters. Swirl the mixture with the ice until your drink is chilled. Strain the drink into a martini glass and garnish as you see fit. Some like using maraschino cherries for this cocktail while others like olives. It’s your call.

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The Margarita is an absolute classic. When it comes to popular mixed drinks, there are few that match the popularity of this one. It can be tricky to get right though without using Margarita mix and that’s perhaps why so many shy away from having it at their parties. This recipe, however, takes a lot of the difficulty out of making Margaritas by combining fairly common ingredients, forgoing the hit or miss Margarita drinks and still offering up a crowd pleasing drink any Margarita fans at your party will love. To make the perfect Margarita, you’ll need:

  • 1 1/2 oz. lime juice
  • 1 1/2 oz. orange liqueur
  • 2 oz. tequila
  • 2 oz. triple sec
  • 4 oz. sweet and sour drink mix (found at most liquor stores or even grocery stores)
  • salt
  • ice cubes
  • strainer
  • shaker
  • Margarita glass

Start by putting ice cubes into your cocktail shaker until the shaker is half full of ice. Add the rest of the ingredients to the ice and shake vigorously so all ingredients are mixed together well. Salt the rim of your margarita glass and strain your drink into the glass. This recipe will give you two delicious margaritas.

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I had to include the Martini on this list because it is, without question, one of the most popular mixed drinks of all time. The problem with putting the Martini on this list though is the fact that there are tons of different variations on the classic Martini and most of them produce great cocktails. I decided to go with the classic Martini because, quite honestly, it’s my favorite and because it’s surprisingly easy to make. After the recipe, I’ll go into the basic variations on the classic but I’m not going to get into Apple Martinis, Espresso Martinis, Chocolate Martinis and the like here. Instead, I’ll offer up a whole separate list for the most popular Martini variations next week. For now, though, let’s stick with the classic Martini and the basic variations. To make a classic Martini, you’ll need:

  • 1/2 oz. dry vermouth
  • 2 1/2 oz. gin
  • ice
  • green olive
  • shaker
  • strainer
  • Martini glass

Put a handful of ice into your cocktail shaker then pour in your gin and vermouth. Stir (not shake) for 30 seconds and then strain into your martini glass. Toss in the olive for garnish and you’re ready to serve. Now, let’s talk variations.

  • The Dirty Martini: Add a small splash of olive brine to the mix.
  • The Vodka Martini: Swap out the gin for vodka.
  • The Dry Martini: Use less vermouth when mixing the drink. “Dryness” refers to the amount of vermouth in the drink so basically, if you want a dryer martini, use less vermouth.
  • The Gibson Martini: Swap the olive for a cocktail onion.

The Perfect Martini is also popular but isn’t really all that different than the Classic Martini when it comes to how it’s made. For this one, you’re going to use dry and sweet vermouth together in the drink, mixing in equal parts of both. If you wanted to turn the above recipe into  a Perfect Martini recipe, you’d half the amount of dry vermouth and add an equal amount of sweet vermouth.

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The Mojito is definitely one of the most popular mixed drinks out there but it’s also a drink that can easily be made incorrectly. This recipe makes a terrific Mojito while still being simple enough for the novice drink mixer. You will need to either a muddler or a pestle to make the best Mojito though so if you don’t have one, consider picking one up if you intend to serve these delicious cocktails at your party. To make a great Mojito, you’ll need:

  • 1 tbsp. sugar
  • 0.5 oz. lime juice
  • 1.25 oz. spiced rum (I highly recommend Captain Morgan Original)
  • 2 oz. soda water
  • 12 mint leaves plus a few for garnish (fresh, if possible)
  • crushed ice
  • Muddler or pestle

Put 12 of your mint leaves at the bottom of your glass and add crushed ice, spiced rum, sugar and lime juice. Crush the mint leaves against the bottom of the glass using your muddler or pestle, mixing the ingredients together at the same time. Once the leaves are crushed and the ingredients are well mixed, add in the soda water. Finish up by garnishing with a few left over mint leaves.

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Pina Colada

The drink so delicious Garth Brooks wrote a song about it (a song that is now stuck in my head and probably will be for days)! I love Pina Coladas and they make a fantastic treat for any guest at your party, assuming they enjoy yummy things like coconut, pineapple and coconut and pineapple together. To make an authentic Pina Colada, you’ll need:

  • 1 cup crushed ice
  • 1 1/2 oz. light rum
  • 2 oz. pineapple juice
  • 2 oz. cream of coconut
  • pineapple slice
  • maraschino cherry
  • blender

Start by adding your rum, cream of coconut and pineapple juice into your blender with your crushed ice. Blend your mixture together until it is smooth. Pour your drink into a glass and finish it all off with a slice of pineapple and a maraschino cherry.

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I struggled with whether or not to put the Screwdriver on this list because it’s so incredibly simple to make. I’m quite certain even those just starting out with this whole drink mixing thing know how to make a Screwdriver. After careful consideration though, I decided to include it for two reasons. 1) The Screwdriver is one of the most popular drinks out there so a lot of people are bound to want it and 2) very few people actually know how to make a really good Screwdriver. If you want to make a great Screwdriver that will really impress your guests, you’ll need:

  • 2 oz. vodka
  • 3 oz. orange juice
  • 3 oz. apple juice
  • orange slice

Start by pouring your orange juice into a glass. Add the vodka and then add the apple juice last. Stir it lightly and garnish with an orange slice. What you’ve just made is one of the best Screwdrivers you’ve ever tasted. You can make it a rum Screwdriver by substituting rum for the vodka.

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Singapore Sling

This is one of my favorite drinks on this list even though I only really indulge in it on special occasions. It also happens to be my most requested cocktail at parties. I always make sure to have enough ingredients on hand to make this drink all night because it’s one people come back for time and time again. To make a genuine Singapore Sling, you’ll need:

  • bitters (you’ll only need a dash of these)
  • 1/4 oz. benedictine herbal liqueur
  • 1/4 oz. orange liqueur
  • 1/3 oz. grenadine
  • 1/2 oz. cherry brandy
  • 1/2 oz. lime juice
  • 1 oz. gin
  • 4 oz. pineapple juice
  • ice
  • pineapple slice
  • cherry
  • shaker
  • tall glass

Start by combining your bitters, benedictine herbal liqueur, orange liqueur, grenadine, cherry brandy, lime juice, gin and pineapple juice in a shaker filled with ice. Shake the entire mixture until your shaker is frosted. Strain your drink into your glass and finish up your cocktail by garnishing it with a slice of pineapple and a cherry.

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Whiskey Sour

This is another popular drink that is made wrong most of the time. The star of this show is the whiskey. You want to let it shine and now drown it out with the lime juice. To make a good Whiskey Sour, you’ll need:

  • 1/2 tsp. powdered sugar
  • lemon juice (half a lemon will give you all the juice you need)
  • 2 oz. whiskey
  • ice
  • 1/2 lemon slice
  • cherry
  • shaker
  • whiskey glass

Shake the whiskey, lemon juice and powdered sugar in your shaker with ice. Strain your drink into your whiskey glass and garnish it with your half lemon slice and a cherry.

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White Russian

The White Russian is an absolute classic – not just one of the most popular mixed drinks ever served but also easily one of my personal favorite mixed drinks both to drink and to serve. To make a proper White Russian, you’ll need:

  • 1 oz. coffee liqueur
  • 2 oz. vodka
  • light cream
  • ice cubes

This one isn’t terribly complicated. Put your ice cubes in your glass, pour in your liqueur and vodka then fill the glass with your light cream. Simple and easy but so incredibly delicious. If you want a holiday theme at your holiday party, considering the Christmas Russian I served at my holiday party last year. It’s pretty simple. You’ll need:

  • coffee liqueur
  • vodka
  • milk
  • peppermint schnapps
  • ice

How much you put in for each ingredient is up to you but you want the drink to be one part peppermint schnapps, one part vodka and two parts coffee liqueur. I used one shot of the schnapps and one shot of vodka with two shots of coffee liqueur all over ice. Finish up by filling your glass with milk. If you want stronger drinks, use smaller glasses. Want weaker drinks? Bigger glasses. I topped mine off with mini candy canes for garnish. Pretty simple stuff but a delicious holiday treat.

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