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Best Cocktail Drinks to Try for Key Occasions

By
Sarah Ward
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Best Cocktail Drinks

The best cocktail drinks you can make or buy cover a lot of occasions. There are drinks that are best for casual sipping. There are summer cocktails, spring cocktails, fall cocktails, and winter cocktail recipes. Beyond those seasonal drinks, there are cocktail drinks that work the best for holidays, parties, and moods. 

There are so many cocktails out there that it can be hard to narrow it down to the most popular cocktails. That’s why, for this list, we’re taking a look at some of the best cocktail drinks for specific holidays, types of people, and general drinking occasions. From batch cocktails with a pitcher in the backyard to birthday cocktails for those special celebrations, we’ve got something for everyone on this list.

If there’s a cocktail you love that we don’t feature, reach out on BinWise socials. As much as we love writing about cocktails, we love learning about new ones to try out, too.

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Best Christmas Cocktails

Christmas calls for time with loved ones, warm nights around the fire, cheerful mornings, and of course, delicious winter cocktails for every occasion. Our top picks for the best cocktail drinks for Christmas cover some classics and some creative ideas you might not have experienced before. 

Eggnog

It wouldn’t be a list of the best Christmas cocktails without eggnog. You can make your own with: 

  • Eggs 
  • Egg yolk
  • Sugar
  • Milk 
  • Heavy cream
  • Vanilla extract

You can also buy a carton and simply add your own bourbon or rum. Either choice makes for a delicious holiday treat throughout the Christmas season.

The Grinch Cocktail

If you get grumpy around Christmas, this cocktail is for you. Even if you don’t, and you’re looking to add extra cheer, it’s still for you! The Grinch cocktail is great for grumps and grinners alike. This green drink mixes up:

  • 1 ½ ounces midori liqueur
  • 1 ounce clear rum
  • 5 ounces lemon lime soda
  • 1 maraschino cherry

The instructions are easier than the work the Grinch put into stopping Christmas. All you do is:

  1. Fill a lowball glass with ice. Add the midori liqueur and rum, and top with lemon lime soda. Stir it gently to mix them.
  2. Top with a maraschino cherry. You could even learn a maraschino cherry recipe to make it homemade.

It creates a drink even the Grinch himself would cheer for.

Cranberry Mimosa

There’s never a bad time for a mimosa. The variety of mimosas you can mix up goes to show that this bubbly drink can be perfect for any holiday or occasion. This cranberry mimosa, occasionally called a poinsettia, is the best of all the mimosas for Christmas drinks. It’s a simple mix of:

  • Your choice of sparkling wine or champagne
  • Cranberry juice

Oh, boy–is it delicious.

Best Cocktails to Make at Home

Sometimes you want to enjoy a cocktail in the comfort of your own home. These best cocktail drinks to make at home are all simple, with cocktail ingredients you’re likely to have around. If not, you can always mix them up and add what you like and have on hand. You’re at home, so who’s to stop you?

Classic Margaritas 

If you want an easy at-home cocktail, a classic margarita is the way to go. It’s just three ingredients:

  • Tequila
  • Orange liqueur
  • Lime juice

Sure, you can add salt, and Triple sec if you like, but at its base, this is a simple drink. You can blend it, put it on the rocks, or make it into a popsicle. The road to margaritaville is an easy drive.

Classic Mojitos 

A mojito can be as simple and delicious as a margarita. The mojito does have a few more ingredients, including:

  • 10 fresh mint leaves
  • ½ medium lime, cut into 3 wedges, divided
  • 2 tablespoons white sugar, or to taste
  • 1 cup ice cubes, or as needed
  • 1 ½ fluid ounces white rum
  • ½ cup club soda, or as needed

The directions are a bit more complicated, but not by much. All you need to do is:

  1. Place mint leaves and 1 lime wedge in a sturdy glass. Use a drink muddler and crush to release mint oils and lime juice.
  2. Add the remaining lime wedges and 2 tablespoons sugar. Muddle again to release the lime juice. Do not strain the mixture.
  3. Fill the glass almost to the top with ice. Pour in rum and fill the glass with club soda.
  4. Stir, taste, and add more sugar if you want.

Old Fashioned

The Old Fashioned is a classic for a reason. It’s perfect for at-home mixologists who want a taste of class in a small glass. The recipe calls for:

  • 2 teaspoons simple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon water
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
  • 1 cup ice cubes
  • 1.5 fluid ounces bourbon whiskey (or your choice of rum or whiskey brands)
  • 1 slice orange 
  • 1 maraschino cherry

The instructions are straightforward. All you do is:

  1. Pour the simple syrup, water, and Angostura bitters into a whiskey glass, and stir them together.
  2. Place the ice cubes in the glass, then pour your choice of liquor over the ice.
  3. Garnish the drink with the orange slice and maraschino cherry.

Best Halloween Cocktails

There’s something special about a spooky cocktail that’ll put some flavorful fear into your Halloween celebration. Of course, these cocktails work equally well for a horror movie marathon.

Whenever a fearfest is in order, these recipes will do the trick. Some are even made in batches, to be shared with friends when you cuddle up to survive a particularly scary movie.

Black Magic Margaritas

These Black Magic Margaritas are perfect for a magical twist on a classic. The recipe calls for:

  • 2 tbsp. black sanding sugar
  • 2 cups ice
  • 4 oz. silver tequila
  • 2 oz. triple sec
  • 1/2 c. lime juice
  • Red food coloring
  • Blue food coloring
  • Green food coloring
  • Lime slices for the garnish

These ingredient quantities will make two margaritas. Once you’ve used the lime and black sanding sugar to rim the glasses, you can mix up the ingredients into a classic margarita. Then add the food coloring to achieve the dark color. 

Witches’ Brew Lemonade

 If you’re looking to brew something special for Halloween, this witches’ brew is just the thing. This witchy treat combines:

  • Ice
  • 2 oz. Empress 1908 Gin
  • 2 oz. sparkling lemonade
  • 2 oz. Blue Curaçao
  • 1 rosemary sprig

To get the bewitching look, the directions are precise. To make this you need to:

  1. Fill a tall glass with ice. Pour the Empress 1908 Gin and top with sparkling lemonade. 
  2. Very carefully and slowly pour the curaçao into the glass, letting it settle on the bottom. 
  3. Garnish with a rosemary sprig.

With that, you’ll be ready for a magical Halloween.

Bloody Mary Margaritas

You can’t let Halloween pass by without a mention of Bloody Mary. Whether you’re nursing a hangover from a Halloween party or you’re preparing for a horror movie marathon, these Bloody Mary Margaritas are excellent. The recipe calls for:

  • 4 lime wedges
  • 8 oz tomato juice
  • 4 oz silver tequila
  • 2 oz triple sec
  • 1/4 tsp hot sauce
  • Chili powder, for rim
  • Ice
  • Thinly sliced jalapeño for the garnish

This recipe count will make two margaritas, but you can change the numbers as needed for your group of movie fans. You can mix the ingredients up in a pitcher. Then pour them directly into your glasses with ice to settle in for a scary-good time.

Best Pitcher Cocktails for Summer

On hot summer days when you want something cool to pair with your sunburn, nothing beats cocktails mixed in a pitcher. You can pop in some ice cubes and put a top on the pitcher to keep out bugs. With that, you’ll be set to enjoy something refreshing throughout an afternoon in your own backyard.

Daiquiris

Daiquiris are the perfect summer drink, and they’re even better when made in a pitcher to share with friends. To mix up a batch you need:

  • 2 cups of rum
  • 1 cup of lime juice
  • ½ cup of simple syrup

Mix those well in a pitcher, then keep it chilled until it’s time to serve them. Within 10 minutes of serving, mix in 2 cups of ice to cool it even further.

Sangria 

Sangria is another summertime favorite. It’s a mix of:

  • 1/2 medium apple (cored, skin on, chopped into small pieces)
  • 1/2 medium orange (rind on, sliced into small pieces, with large seeds removed)
  • 3-4 tbsp organic brown sugar (or 3 tbsp (37.5 g) organic cane sugar)
  • 3/4 cup orange juice
  • 1/3 cup brandy
  • 750 ml bottle dry Spanish red wine
  • 1 cup ice to chill

To make it:

  1. Add apples, oranges, and sugar to a large pitcher. Muddle for 45 seconds.
  2. Add orange juice and brandy. Muddle again to combine for 30 seconds.
  3. Add red wine and stir to incorporate. Taste it and adjust for flavor. Then add brandy, orange juice, and brown sugar, and stir it together.
  4. Add ice and stir once more to chill. Serve with orange slices to garnish.

Hibiscus-Tequila Cooler

Hibiscus is the underrated taste of every summer. Of course, all types of tequila make for a great cocktail no matter what you mix them with. This hibiscus-tequila cooler recipe needs:

For the Hibiscus-Lime Syrup:

  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/3 cup dried hibiscus flowers
  • 2 ounces juice and 1 teaspoon zest from 4 to 5 limes

For the drink:

  • 1 lime, sliced thin
  • 1 cup hibiscus-lime syrup
  • 2 cups tonic water, chilled (learn more: what is tonic water)
  • 1 cup blanco tequila

To mix it all together, you:

  1. In a small saucepan, bring sugar and water to a low simmer over medium-high heat, stirring occasionally. Remove from the heat and add hibiscus and lime zest. Stir, then cover and steep for 15 minutes. Strain, let cool, and add lime juice.
  2. In a pitcher, add lime slices, hibiscus-lime syrup, and tequila. If it’s not being used immediately, store it in the refrigerator up to 6 hours. Otherwise, add tonic water and stir to combine. Serve over ice with lime wedges.
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Best Wedding Cocktails

A wedding is one of the best reasons to celebrate. The wedding cocktails we’ve picked for this list are sure to pick up the party. From traditional wedding treats to surprising creations, there’s something for every couple. These are some of the best cocktail drinks if you’re looking to have a semi-open bar with set drinks. 

Blueberry Mojito 

To mix up blueberry mojitos for a sweet wedding treat, you can use the classic mojito recipe from earlier in this article. There will be two changes. In the muddling stage, muddle some blueberries with everything else.

Once it’s time for garnishes, float a few blueberries in the drink as well. You’ll have yourself a sweet take on an already delicious drink.

St. Germain 

Since St. Germain is a type of liquor, there are many types of St. Germain cocktails. The one we’ve picked for the best wedding option combines:

  • St. Germain
  • Gin
  • Lime Juice

This drink is also known as a French Gimlet. It’s 2 parts gin and 1 part lime juice, with a dash of St. Germain for the flavor.

Blushing Kiss

A drink with a name like Blushing Kiss was made for weddings. This delicate love affair includes:

  • 2 parts gin
  • 1 part St. Germain
  • 1 part grapefruit juice
  • grapefruit wedge
  • 1 sprig of thyme

To mix it up, shake all the ingredients (learn more: types of cocktail shakers) with ice, then strain into a martini glass. Then garnish with the grapefruit wedge and thyme.

Best Cocktails for Beginners

These best cocktails for beginners are similar to the at-home cocktail options in their simplicity. If you’re learning to mix up your own drinks, and you want something easy to start with, these basic recipes are great for beginners. They can be improved upon with experimentation, to let you learn more once you master the basics. Before you learn about jiggers and shakers, you’ll be able to whip these up.

Rum and Coke 

All you need for a rum and coke is right there in the name. When you’re figuring it out, you can test out different amounts to see what tastes right. You can move beyond it with lime juice, and some different types of bitters. Rum is great for bitters alcohol combinations. 

Gin and Tonic 

Similar to a rum and coke, the ingredients of a gin and tonic are quite upfront. The variety often comes in the type of gin, and the flavors available for tonic water. You can ask the folks working at the liquor store for gin recommendations, and test it from there. 

Mimosa

Mimosas are featured on pretty much every list of cocktails, ever. They’re even elsewhere on this list. When you’re just learning, you can stick with sparkling wine and orange juice.

It’s best to do about half a glass of sparkling wine, topped off with orange juice. From there, you can change the ratio to what you prefer, and start to mix in other flavors.

Best Birthday Cocktails

When your birthday comes around, whether it’s your 21st or any birthday after a special cocktail will be a great birthday treat. If you're mixing drinks for a birthday, make sure you know the legal drinking age for your country. With sprinkles, sweets, and more, these specialty drinks make for some excellent birthday bashes.

Birthday Cake Martini 

A birthday cake and a martini might just be the greatest thing since sliced bread. Well, maybe not, but this is still a great birthday cocktail. This simple mix involves:

  • White chocolate liqueur
  • Cake-lavored vodka
  • Half and half

Add sprinkles to rim the glass. You can mix the ingredients in a shaker or jar filled with ice, then strain them into your sprinkled glass.

Chocolate Cake Shot

Of course, birthday cake can be more than just sprinkles. If you’re a chocolate cake fan, a chocolate cake shot might be the thing for you. This shot requires:

  • Frangelico Liqueur (it has a hazelnut flavor that tastes like chocolate)
  • Vanilla vodka
  • 1 Fresh lemon
  • Sugar
  • Simple syrup (for wetting the glass rim)

To make it, you:

  1. Slice the lemon, then cut the slices in half.
  2. Dip the lemon slices in sugar.
  3. Pour simple syrup on a plate, then dip the shot glass to rim it.
  4. Add the Frangelico, then the vodka.
  5. Serve with a slice of lemon on top as a garnish.

Rosé Wine Spritzer

If you’re a fan of rosé and light, refreshing drinks, the rosé wine spritzer will be the right birthday cocktail for you. All you need is:

  • Rosé wine
  • Club soda

And to mix it up, just choose your favorite glass, fill it halfway with wine, and top it off with club soda. Enjoy!

Best Fourth of July Cocktails

When the Fourth of July rolls around, celebrations of all sorts crop up around the US. Whether you enjoy sitting at home to avoid the heat or are heading out to a parade, there’s a patriotic drink for you. These cocktails are all distinctly American, representing the best this country has to offer.

Firecracker 

Though it’s not strictly legal for everyone, there are plenty of firecracker and fireworks displays on the Fourth. Whether you’re watching a fireworks show, or you’re looking to celebrate at home, this firecracker of a cocktail is a great choice. The recipe calls for:

  • 2 1-inch-cubed watermelon chunks
  • 1 1/2 ounces aged rum
  • 1/2 ounce lime juice, freshly squeezed
  • 1/2 ounce simple syrup
  • 1/6 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 ounce triple sec
  • Garnish: lime wedge

To make it:

  1. In a mixing glass, muddle the watermelon.
  2. Add remaining ingredients and ice and shake until well-chilled.
  3. Strain into a cocktail glass.
  4. Garnish with the lime wedge.

Stars and Stripes 

There’s nothing that says “Happy Fourth of July” quite like the stars and stripes. Any cocktail that mixes those recognizable colors has a place on this holiday. The stars and stripes drink combines:

  • 5 fresh blueberries
  • 1 ounce blueberry vodka
  • 1/4 ounce absinthe
  • 1/4 ounce simple syrup
  • 1 dash raspberry brandy
  • 1/4 ounce lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • Ginger beer, chilled, to top
  • Garnish: sugar cube

To mix it up, you:

  1. Muddle the blueberries in a shaker.
  2. Add the vodka, absinthe, lemon juice and simple syrup, and ice, then shake until it’s well-chilled.
  3. Pour (unstrained) into a highball glass.
  4. Drizzle with the raspberry brandy and top with ginger beer.
  5. Garnish with the sugar cube.

Red, White, and Booze Popsicles

When you hear the term “cocktail” you generally think of something in a glass, to be slowly sipped. That’s not always the case. It wouldn’t be the Fourth of July without popsicles, and this patriotic number fits the popsicle and cocktail bill. The ingredients are:

Cherry Bomb Layer

  • 2 ounces black cherry juice
  • 1/2 ounce cherry-flavored vodka
  • 2 ounces lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • 2 ounces simple syrup

Piña Colada Layer

  • 1/4 ounce coconut rum
  • 1/4 ounce pineapple rum
  • 4 ounces coconut water
  • 2 ounces simple syrup

Blue Hawaii Layer

  • 1/4 ounce blue curaçao
  • 1/4 ounce vodka
  • 4 ounces orange-pineapple juice
  • 2 ounces simple syrup
  • 1-3 drops blue food coloring (optional)

The amount will make four popsicles. To make them:

  1. Make the Cherry Bomb mixture by mixing the cherry vodka, black cherry juice, lemon juice and simple syrup into a container. Stir them together.
  2. Add 1 1/2 ounces of Cherry Bomb mixture into each popsicle mold, and freeze for 2 hours.
  3. Make the Piña Colada mixture by mixing the coconut and pineapple rums, coconut water and simple syrup into a container. Stir them together.
  4. Remove the molds from the freezer and add 1 1/2 ounces of Piña Colada mixture to each mold, and freeze for another 2 hours.
  5. Make the Blue Hawaii mixture by mixing the blue Curaçao, vodka, orange-pineapple juice and simple syrup into a container. Also add the food coloring if you want to use it. Stir them together.
  6. Remove the molds from the freezer and add 1 1/2 ounces of Blue Hawaii mixture to each popsicle mold. Freeze for an additional 2 hours.
  7. Right before serving them, run the exteriors of the molds under warm water for a few seconds. This will make it easier to remove the popsicles.

Frequently Asked Questions About Best Cocktail Drinks

A list of the best cocktail drinks for every occasion is sure to lead to more questions. There are so many cocktails out there, it's impossible to choose 50 of the best. Our answers to these frequently asked questions will help you even further in discovering great cocktails.

What Is the Most Delicious Cocktail?

It’s hard to pick just one, but for most folks, the most delicious cocktail is the Piña colada. It’s sweet, and perfect for pretty much any occasion.

How Do I Choose a Cocktail?

If you’re unfamiliar with cocktails, you can always head to a bar and ask for a recommendation. If you’re making drinks at home, any of the options on this list are a good place to start. 

What Cocktails Have Tequila?

Some of the most popular tequila cocktails are the margarita, paloma, tequila sour, tequila highball, Mexican mule, and the tequila sunrise. Of course, there are many others, but these are all a good start. With a lot of these, it doesn’t even matter what types of tequila you use, there’s a lot of freedom.

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Best Cocktail Drinks: Drink Up!

The best cocktail drinks all have one thing in common: they can be delicious any time of year. There's nothing wrong with limiting cocktails to different times of year. The most important thing, though, is that whenever you drink them, you enjoy them.