Classic Cocktail Recipes


They are classics for a reason. There is an art to mixing a great drink — the ritual, the perfect glassware, the garnish, the lounge atmosphere. The 1960s were the golden age of cocktail parties held in offices, mid-century living rooms, even the 3 martini lunch. We have the recipes for these concoctions so you can sharpen your skills. You'll save $$$ at the local lounge and on the Lyft ride home.

Glassware — The appropriate glass enhances the perfect drinking experience!

  • Martini

  • Coupe

  • The Collins tends to be taller and more narrow, more of a chimney shape.

  • The highball tends to be stouter and usually tops off at 10 oz.

  • Old-Fashioned / Rocks

Barware and Cocktail Tools — You could use a canning jar to shake a drink but why be so trailer parkish? Kick it up a notch and show off your bartending skills and get some cool equipment for your bar.


  • A Cocktail Shaker or two — One is great for mixing, two fit together for a tight seal so you do not splash your drink and cry like a little girl. Yes, men do cry. Spill a drink and sit back and watch the show.

  • Cocktail Strainer — Keeps the ice from watering down your baby.

  • Shot glass or Jigger — A shot is a 1 1/5 oz. mini measuring cup. A jigger is a cool metal, hourglass device with not one, but two measuring cups, one at each end.

  • Cocktail Picks — Holds garnish or for fishing that yummy olive out of your martini.

  • Bar spoon — A super long twisted, elegant spoon used to stir cocktails.

  • A MuddlerAn essential bar tool used to smash or muddle ingredients.

  • A Citrus Squeezer — Do I have to explain it?

  • Cocktail Napkins — Do not even think of putting a delicious Manhatten on a Brawny. Sacrilege! Go to Amazon and find some cool conversation starters.

  • Coasters — Please! Do not leave a ring on my Googie table. Save your surfaces from condensation rings and buy cool coasters while you're at Amazon or Etsy.

  • A BarYes, an actual bar! If you have room, build it! A special place of your own. A corner, a basement, an outside pub. WARNING: You'll become the neighborhood watering hole and new friends will start cozying up to your bar. Just ask JR Mayo.

Classic liquor — The ads for these liquors were just wrong.

  • Seagram's Seven (American blended whiskey)

  • Canadian Club (Canadian blended whiskey)

  • Seagram's VO (Canadian blended whiskey)

  • Windsor (Canadian blended whiskey)

  • Imperial Whiskey

  • Crème de menthe (green and white)

  • Campari (Can't find Campari? Blame Stanley Tucci for that!)

  • Peppermint Schnapps

  • Gilbey's Gin

  • Gordon's Gin

  • Smirnoff Vodka

  • Bacardi White Rum

  • Martini & Rossi Sweet Vermouth

  • Martini & Rossi Dry Vermouth (Ok, these two vermouths are old-school. If you want to drink delicious Vermouth, do like the Spaniards and sip botanical Spanish vermut every afternoon. Fact: You can go to a bodega there and have your own bottle filled at the barrels. Grab some chorizo tapas and you are golden.

Beer Back-in-the-day brews. You will not find a crafty IPA here. No can do.

  • Schmidt's

  • Schlitz

  • Stroh's

  • Pabst Blue Ribbon

  • Iron City

Accoutrements & Old-timey Mixers

  • ReaLemon & ReaLime — Plastic juice bottles shaped and colored like the fruits

  • Seven-Up — Originally 7 ingredients plus the 'UP' of lithium to lift spirits.

  • Coca-ColaWhen there was ONE Coke flavor.

  • Squirt — They even had a towheaded mascot name Lil Squirt.

  • Canada Dry Ginger Ale — The original label featured a beaver on a map of Canada.

  • Schweppes Tonic — The Madmen of yore coined it 'Schweppervescence'.

  • Maraschino Cherries — Glowing, nuclear red, tooth-achingly sweet nonfruit.

  • Club Soda — A fizzy type of H2O.

  • Twists — A fruit peel garnish. You twist it to get citrus oil into your drink.

  • Simple Syrup — A staple in any beverage maker's repertoire. Make it, it's simple.

  • Glassware Koozies — Nobody likes a sweaty glass. Cool your baby in a hugger.

  • Swizzle sticks — Cocktail icons, they came in a variety of shapes and colors.

  • Cocktail Umbrellas — A miniature paper parasol that protects your drink from the tropical sun.

  • Matchbook — Comic or promotion, the grandaddy of cheap butane lighters.

Googie Modern's Madman Glenn developed a fascination with cocktails (watch the video above) at a young age as he watched his socializing, party-loving grandparents, Joe and Betty, entertain their friends in the smoky, basement bar. Glenn had a blast gathering (and sampling) these recipes. He has glassware of every shape chilling in the freezer, ready for any occasion. Have fun. A great party is about to begin. Patience, grasshopper. If you wait until 5 PM, the more you will appreciate the golden hour!

Whiskey Sour, Scotch Sour, Amaretto Sour. What the heck, try them all.

Proudly wearing the ‘classic’ badge, this is a versatile cocktail that has stood the taste of time. This would just be a Whiskey Sour recipe but I seem to remember a lot of Scotch (Ballentine’s?) and Amaretto Sours getting sucked down back in the day as well. I’m pretty sure Joe and Betty probably used a sour mix but don’t do it. It’s an entirely different–and better–and softer animal with sugar, lemon, and egg white.

  • 2 oz. Whiskey, Scotch or Amaretto

  • 3/4 oz. simple syrup

  • 3/4 oz. lemon juice

  • 1 egg white

Combine it all into a shaker with Whiskey/Scotch/Amaretto Sour. Normally, ice and shake it, don't break it, baby. Strain into a chilled coupe glass. Enjoy!

Last Word

I never heard of this recipe and I’m sure my grandparents didn’t drink this. I highly doubt they ever owned a bottle of Chartreuse or Maraschino Liqueur. Maraschino cherries definitely, but not liquor. I’m including it here because it shows up on many ‘Classic Cocktails” lists and it just sounds and looks delicious. The title evokes danger. Or death.

  • 3/4 oz. Green Chartreuse

  • 3/4 oz. Maraschino Liqueur (substitute Cherry (Brandy) or Kirsch if you have to)

  • 3/4 oz. Gin

  • 3/4 oz. Fresh Lime Juice

Dump it all into a shaker with ice and shake like hell to get that baby foamy. Strain into a chilled coupe glass or serve with the ice in a highball or collins glass. Drink it!

Singapore Sling

The quintessential queen of all tiki drinks! Reschedule any conflicts and make this. An exotic drink from 'the Orient' that calls for lots of accessories hanging around on top. Umbrellas. Plastic swords. Even hanging monkeys. Pineapple. Cherries. You get the picture. Sing Slings for everyone this weekend, please!

  • 2 oz. London Dry gin

  • 2 oz. Pineapple Juice (preferably unsweetened)

  • 3/4 oz. Fresh Lime Juice

  • 3/4 oz. any Cherry flavored liquor (Heering, Kirsch, Cherry Brandy)

  • 1 oz. Bénédictine (French monks made this as a medicinal tonic)

  • 1/4 oz. Grenadine

  • Coupla dashes Angostura bitters

  • Club Soda

  • Maraschino cherries (yet again)

Fill a shaker with everything but the soda, add ice, and shake ‘er up. Strain into a highball glass, then top with club soda. Insert straw (Paper!), stir it a little, and accessorize it to your liking. Just don’t poke your eye out on that umbrella or sword. Or straw.

Old Fashioned

This is one of my all-time favorite libations! While I’m never disappointed in any of the modern-day “mixologists’” interpretations, including substituting my favorite Stirring’s Blood Orange Bitters for Angostura, I really prefer the old-school way with–YES–Maraschino Cherries and a whole orange wheel. Some recipes call for a splash of soda but why dilute the alcohol I always say. I’m quite sure my grandfather used Canadian Whiskey. He used it in everything. Even coffee.


One of the things I really love about this drink is the way the flavor evolves as you drink it. Just sip it and you start with straight whiskey on top and work your way down to a sweet, syrupy liquor at the bottom. Yes please, I’ll have another.

  • 1 tsp. Sugar (Who the heck has sugar cubes?)

  • Coupla dashes Angostura Bitters (or kick it up with Stirring’s Blood Orange Bitters)

  • Orange Slice

  • 2 Maraschino Cherries

  • 2 oz. Whiskey (or Bourbon, which I prefer over Rye - Oh, sacrilege!)

  • Ice

Plop the sugar, bitters, orange slice and cherries into the bottom of a rocks glass. Use a wooden muddler (if you have one) or use the back of a spoon to smash (muddle) it all together. Throw some ice in the glass, pour the liquor over it and enjoy. Repeat.

Boulevardier

I’m not sure if this was a classic back in the day and I only heard of it about 10 years ago. I’m including it here because I love it and, hey, it’s my blog. Call it a Bourbon Manhattan with Campari or a Negroni with Bourbon or call it what it is, a Boulevardier. It originated in Paris so I can’t begin to try to pronounce the name properly. Just throw some attitude.

  • 1-1/2 oz. Bourbon

  • 3/4 oz. Campari

  • 3/4 oz. Sweet Vermouth

Pour it all into a chilled glass shaker with ice and stir it up. Strain it into a chilled coupe or martini glass or dump it with the ice into a rocks glass. Garnish with a cherry or orange twist or serve it buck naked. Betcha can’t have just one, mon ami.

Negroni

I don’t remember when I first had one of these, and I’ve had many since, but I do remember that for some reason none ever tasted as good as those (plural) I had at one of the overpriced tourist traps in Piazza San Marco while the dueling orchestras played Vivaldi in the background. Call it terroir. Call it the allure of Venizia. Call it delicious.

  • 1 oz. Gin

  • 1 oz. Campari

  • 1 oz. Sweet Vermouth

  • Ice

  • Orange peel (for garnish)

Stir Gin, Campari, and Vermouth in a glass shaker with ice. Strain it into a chilled coupe or martini glass or a slotted spoon into an ice-filled rocks glass. Twist a slice of orange peel over the drink, rim the glass, and drop it in. Bottoms up. Gently. Grazie.

Manhattan

“I'll have Manhattan, the Bronx, and Staten Island, too.” Heck, might as well throw in Queens and Brooklyn. That song should be on every Googie playlist (we have it here on Spotify) and this cocktail should be on every list of classic cocktails. Actually, it is and it’s probably my favorite. You should have been making these for a long time now.

  • 2 oz. Rye Whiskey (Sorry, I still prefer Bourbon over Rye. Pap used Canadian Whiskey, of course)

  • 1 oz. Sweet Vermouth

  • Coupla dashes Angostura bitters (or kick it up with Stirring’s Blood Orange Bitters)

  • Ice

  • 1 Brandied Cherry (or Maraschino, an insult to this drink. Try a better cherry!)

Combine the first four ingredients in a shaker and stir until chilled. Strain into a chilled coupe (or Martini glass if you must). Plop the cherry in and watch it float to the bottom.

Martini — Add a pickled onion and it is called a Gibson (not the Mad Max kind)

Do you really need a recipe for this, perhaps the most iconic of all cocktails? Apparently so. It's the KING of cocktails. Lesson one: the word “Martini” should never be prefaced with “Apple,” “Chocolate,” “Espresso,” or any words other than “Extra Dry.” Or, I'll have a fifth one, please.


Gin or Vodka? Vermouth or extra dry? Shaken or stirred? Olive or twist (a Dickens Martini. Oliver Twist. Get it?)? Everyone has an opinion. Here’s mine: I prefer Gin but love Vodka too. EXTRA dry. While I dig olives and lemon twists equally I prefer cocktail onions, which makes it a Gibson (hence the word “Gibson” in parentheses above. Why write two recipes?) And shaken. Some have a problem with the bullsh*t notion of “bruising” the liquor but shaking gives it a little effervescence and I like that. If you like “dirty” Martinis, try making a Gibson the same way with onion juice instead of olive juice. Tasty. A little stinky. In a good way.

  • 2 oz. Gin (or Vodka)

  • 1 oz. or less Dry Vermouth–or none at all. In that case make it 3 oz. of Gin or Vodka

  • Ice

  • Green Olive, Lemon Twist or Cocktail Onions (for a Gibson)

Pour Gin or Vodka and Vermouth (if you absolutely must) into a shaker with ice. Stir vigorously or do a little dance. Strain this nectar of the gods into a chilled coupe or martini glass. Garnish. Bond. James Bond.

Vesper

Apparently invented by Ian Fleming who had James drinking these in “Casino Royale,” this is a good drink for people who can’t quite take the strong flavor of an extra dry Gin Martini. Wimps. Refreshing, to say the least. Ways to chill a glass: yes, it’s this simple: to achieve a frosty sheen, place a cocktail glass in the freezer for 30 minutes. For those in a hurry, a five-minute stint in the freezer will also chill glasses, though it won’t frost over. Need that drink ASAP? Throw ice in a glass for a minute, then throw it out.

  • 3 oz. Gin

  • 1 oz. Vodka

  • 1/2 oz. Lillet Blanc Apéritif

  • Lemon Twist Garnish

Pour Gin or Vodka and Vermouth (if you absolutely must) into a shaker with ice.

Stir vigorously or shake it depending on your preference. Strain liquid into a chilled coupe or martini glass. Twist a slice of lemon peel over the drink, rim the glass with the peel and drop it in. Hit the Roulette table. Tip the dealers if you win.

Margarita

My Pappy almost certainly used “Margarita Mix” in his version. I definitely never saw a bottle of Cointreau behind that bar. Maybe Triple Sec. Definitely no agave either. And he probably used Canadian Whisky instead of Tequila. He used it in everything.

  • 4 oz. tequila

  • 2 oz. Cointreau (Triple Sec if you’re down on your luck, Gran Marnier if you’re up!)

  • 2 oz. Fresh-Squeezed Lime Juice (or ReaLime in the little green plastic lime shape)

  • 1/2 oz. Agave Syrup (or Simple Syrup)

  • Ice

  • Coarse Sea Salt (or kick it up with Tajin seasoning!)

  • Additional lime wedges, for garnish

Mix Tequila, Cointreau, lime juice, and agave syrup in a shaker with ice and stir or shake thoroughly. Spread salt on a plate. Rub rims of two rocks glasses with the spent lime. Turn glasses upside down in the salt and rotate to salt the rim. Fill glasses with ice and pour in the beverage. Garnish with lime wedges. Olé.

Martinez

Often named the Father of the Martini (or should it be the Padre?), I never heard of this before creating this list. Is it a classic? Did the Rat Pack drink this? Who knows, but it sounded delicious so I included it. Beautiful and elegant! Impress your date. Impress yourself!

  • 2 oz. Gin

  • 1 oz. Sweet Vermouth

  • 1 oz. Dry Vermouth

  • 1 teaspoon Maraschino Liqueur (substitute Cherry Heering, Kirsch or Cherry Brandy if you have to)

  • Orange Curaçao Liqueur

  • Orange or lemon peel, for garnish

Fill a coupe glass with ice to chill it. Combine everything but the twist in a glass shaker with ice. Stir until chilled, toss the coupe ice and strain into the elegant coupe. Garnish.

Gimlet

What came first, the Daiquiri or the Gimlet? Same drink, different liquor. Both easy to make. Ever heard of a Vodka Gimlet? Here’s a tip: Substitute Vodka for the Gin in this drink and guess what? You got a Vodka Gimlet. This is a perfect drink for back porch summer sipping.

  • 2 oz. Gin

  • 3/4 oz. Fresh Lime Juice

  • 3/4 oz. Simple Syrup

  • Ice

  • Lime Slice for Garnish

Combine ingredients into a glass shaker with ice. Shake then strain into a chilled coupe.

Garnish with a lime slice.

Daiquiri

This is the original, not strawberry. But here’s a Strawberry Daiquiri story anyway. When I was in college I worked as a barback in a nightclub in Philly. During the day when I worked alone stocking the bars for the evening shifts, I made huge Strawberry Daiquiris with frozen cans of strawberries from the kitchen and drank them while I was working. I also made huge Bailey’s Irish Cream milkshakes. That’s why you don't hire an under-aged 19-year old to restock a bar alone when the bar is closed.

  • 2 oz. Light Rum, let’s just call it Bacardi, white or gold

  • 1 oz. Fresh Lime Juice

  • 1/2 oz. Simple Syrup

Pour ingredients into a glass shaker with ice. Shake then strain into a chilled coupe.

Garnish with a lime slice. A simple and refreshing classic.

Tom Collins

Do you know who Tom Collins was? Few do. I guess he was a guy for whom a Gimlet was just a little too strong so he added a little Club Soda. And they named a drink after him. Go figure.

  • 2 oz. Gin

  • 3/4 oz. Fresh Lime Juice

  • 3/4 oz. Simple Syrup

  • Club Soda

Shake all ingredients except club soda with ice in a cocktail shaker. Dump it into a tall collins glass, top with soda. Garnish with a lemon slice and a cherry.

Sidecar

Remember that Cointreau you bought to make Margaritas on Cinco de Mayo? Here’s something else you can do with it. Of course, now you’ll need to go out and buy a bottle of Cognac. No worries, you'll use it. It's time to try mixing cognac into your cocktail repertoire.


  • 1-1/2 oz. Cognac

  • 3/4 oz. Cointreau

  • 3/4 oz. Fresh Lemon Juice

  • Orange Twist Garnish

  • Sugar Rim


Add all liquid ingredients into a shaker with ice and shake. Coat the rim of a coupe glass with sugar. Strain beverage into the coupe glass. Garnish with an orange twist.

Mai Tai

Is a tropical, fruity beverage really complete without a colorful cocktail umbrella sticking out of it? No, we answer! And another use for that bottle of Cointreau. Nothing wrong with a drink that has two types of rum in it, unless you have to get up in the morning. I’m pretty sure my grandparents only had this on a cruise ship or maybe at the Mauna Loa Restaurant in Monroeville, PA. I saw Rip Taylor perform there once. Another story.

  • 1 oz. Amber Rum