18 Cocktails Every Bartender Should Know

top cocktails every bartender should know

We all know bartenders are well versed in many cocktails and mixed drinks. But what are the most important cocktails every established bartender should know?

Which cocktails are the most popular in 2020? Which classic cocktails are timeless?

Some of these famous cocktails have been popular for generations and continue to be favorites around the world, gaining popularity from movies and pop culture.

To make it easier for you to learn the top cocktails every bartender should know (whether you’re from San Diego or Phoenix or even Wisconsin), National Bartenders has compiled the below list just for you to bookmark and share with your friends.

Here’s 18 Cocktails Every Bartender Should Know

#1 Margarita

margarita cocktail


A Margarita is a cocktail consisting of Tequila, Orange Liqueur, and Lime Juice often served with Salt on the rim of the glass. The drink is served shaken with ice, blended with ice, or without ice.


  • 2 oz Tequila
  • 1 oz Lime Juice
  • 1 oz Cointreau

Drinkware: Margarita Glass

Preparation: Rub the rim of the glass with the Lime Slice to make the salt stick to it. Shake the other ingredients with ice, then carefully pour into the glass (taking care not to dislodge any salt). Garnish and serve over ice.

Served: Poured over ice

Garnish: Lime Slice, Salt on the rim



#2 Martini

martini cocktail


The Martini is a cocktail made with Gin and Vermouth and garnished with an Olive or a Lemon Twist. Over the years, the Martini has become one of the best-known mixed alcoholic beverages. H. L. Mencken called the Martini “the only American invention as perfect as the sonnet”.


  • 1/2 oz (1 part) Dry Vermouth
  • 3 oz (6 parts) Gin

Drinkware: Cocktail Glass

Preparation: Pour all ingredients into mixing glass with ice cubes. Stir well, then strain in chilled Cocktail Glass. Squeeze oil from Lemon Teist onto the drink, or garnish with an Olive.

Served: Straight or poured over ice

Garnish: Olive or Lemon Twist



#3 Moscow Mule

moscow mule cocktail

Moscow Mule

A Moscow Mule is a cocktail made with Vodka, Ginger Beer, and Lime Juice, garnished with a Lime Slice or Lime Wedge. The Moscow Mule is popularly served in a Copper Mug, which takes on the cold temperature of the liquid.


  • 4 oz Ginger Beer
  • 1 1/2 oz Vodka
  • 1/6 oz Lime Juice

Drinkware: Copper Mug or Highball Glass

Preparation: Combine Vodka and Ginger Beer in a Copper Mug or Highball Glass filled with ice. Add Lime Juice and stir gently.

Served: Poured over ice

Garnish: Lime Slice or Lime Wedge



#4 Gin & Tonic

gin and tonic cocktail

Gin & Tonic

A Gin & Tonic is a highball cocktail made with Gin and Tonic Water poured over a large amount of ice. The ratio of Gin to Tonic varies according to taste, strength of the Gin and other drink mixers being added, with most recipes calling for a ratio between 1:1 to 1:3.


  • 1 part to 3 parts Gin (to taste)
  • 3 parts Tonic Water

Drinkware: Rocks Glass, Highball Glass

Preparation: In a glass filled with ice cubes, add Gin and Tonic Water.

Served: Poured over ice

Garnish: Lime Slice or Lime Wedge



#5 Manhattan

manhattan cocktail


A Manhattan is a cocktail made with Whisky, Sweet Vermouth, and Bitters. While rye is the traditional Whisky of choice, other commonly used whiskies include Canadian Whisky, Bourbon, blended Whisky, and Tennessee Whisky.


  • Dash of Bitters
  • 2 oz Rye Whisky or Canadian Whisky
  • 3/4 oz Sweet Red Vermouth

Drinkware: Cocktail Glass

Preparation: Stirred over ice, strained into a chilled glass, garnished, and served straight up.

Served: Straight up

Garnish: Maraschino Cherry



#6 Long Island Iced Tea

long island iced tea cocktail

Long Island Iced Tea

A Long Island Iced Tea is a type of alcoholic mixed drink typically made with Vodka, Tequila, Light Rum, Triple Sec, Gin, and a splash of Cola, which gives the drink the same amber hue as its namesake. A popular version mixes equal parts Vodka, Gin, Rum, Triple Sec, with ​1 1/2 parts Sour Mix and a splash of Cola.


  • 1/2 oz Vodka
  • 1/2 oz White Rum
  • 1 oz Lemon Juice
  • 1/2 oz Gin
  • 1/2 oz Tequila
  • Splash of Cola
  • 1/2 oz Triple Sec
  • 1 oz Gomme Syrup

Drinkware: Highball Glass

Preparation: Add all ingredients into Highball Glass filled with ice. Stir gently. Garnish with Lemon Spiral and serve with a straw.

Served: Poured over ice

Garnish: Lemon Spiral



#7 Old Fashioned

old fashioned cocktail

Old Fashioned

The Old Fashioned is a cocktail made by muddling Sugar with Angostura Bitters, adding Whisky or, less commonly, Brandy, and garnishing with a Citrus Rind Twist. It is traditionally served in an Old Fashioned Glass, which predated the cocktail.


  • 1 1/2 oz Bourbon or Rye Whisky
  • 2 dashes Angostura Bitters
  • 1 Sugar Cube
  • Dash of Water

Drinkware: Old Fashioned Glass

Preparation: Place Sugar Cube in Old Fashioned Glass and saturate with Angostura Bitters, add a dash of water. Muddle until dissolved. Fill the glass with ice cubes and add Whiskey. Garnish with Orange Slice, and a Maraschino Cherry.

Served: Poured over ice

Garnish: Orange Slice, Maraschino Cherry



#8 Whisky Sour

whisky sour cocktail

Whisky Sour

The Whisky Sour is a mixed drink containing Whisky, Lemon Juice, Sugar, and optionally, a dash of Egg Whites. With the Egg Whites, it is sometimes called a Boston Sour. With a few bar spoons of full-bodied Red Wine floated on top, it is often referred to as a New York Sour.


  • 1 oz (2 parts) Lemon Juice
  • 1/2 oz (1 part) Gomme Syrup
  • 1 dash Egg Whites
  • 1 1/2 oz (3 parts) Bourbon Whisky

Drinkware: Old Fashioned Glass, Cobbler

Preparation: Shake with ice. Strain into ice-filled Old Fashioned Glass to serve on the rocks.

Served: Pour over ice

Garnish: Maraschino Cherry, Lemon Rind, Orange Slice



#9 White Russian

white russian cocktail

White Russian

A White Russian is a cocktail made with Vodka, Coffee Liqueur and Cream served with ice in an Old Fashioned Glass. Often Milk or Half & Half will be used as an alternative to Cream.


  • 2/3 oz (2 parts) Coffee Liqueur
  • 1 2/3 oz (5 parts) Vodka
  • 1 oz (3 parts) Cream

Drinkware: Old Fashioned Glass

Preparation: Pour Coffee Liqueur and Vodka into an Old Fashioned Glass filled with ice. Float Fresh Cream on top and stir slowly.

Served: Poured over ice



#10 Mojito

mojito cocktail


Mojito is a traditional Cuban Highball. Traditionally, a Mojito is a cocktail that consists of five ingredients: White Rum, Sugar, Lime Juice, Soda Water, and Mint. Its combination of sweetness, citrus, and herbaceous mint flavors is intended to complement the Rum, and has made the Mojito a popular summer drink.


  • 1 1/2 oz White Rum
  • 6 Mint Leaves
  • Soda Water
  • 1 oz Fresh Lime Juice
  • 2 tsp. of Sugar

Drinkware: Collins Glass

Preparation: Sprigs of Mint muddled with Sugar and Lime Juice. Rum added and topped with Soda Water. Garnished with Mint Leaves and served with a straw.

Served: Poured over ice

Garnish: Mint Leaves



#11 Cosmopolitan

cosmopolitan cocktail


A Cosmopolitan, also known as a Cosmo, is a cocktail made with Vodka, Triple Sec, Cranberry Juice, and freshly squeezed or sweetened Lime Juice.


  • 1/2 oz Fresh Lime Juice
  • 1 oz Cranberry Juice
  • 1/2 oz Cointreau
  • 1 1/2 oz Vodka Citron

Drinkware: Cocktail Glass

Preparation: Add all ingredients into cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake well and double strain into large Cocktail Glass. Garnish with Lime Wedge.

Served: Straight up

Garnish: Lime Wedge, Lemon Slice



#12 Sidecar

sidecar cocktail


The Sidecar is a cocktail traditionally made with Cognac, Orange Liqueur and Lemon Juice. In its ingredients, the drink is perhaps most closely related to the older Brandy Crusta, which differs both in presentation and in proportions of its components.


  • 2 oz Cognac
  • 3/4 oz Lemon Juice
  • 3/4 oz Triple Sec

Drinkware: Cocktail Glass

Preparation: Pour all ingredients into cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake well and strain into Cocktail Glass.

Served: Straight up



#13 Gimlet

gimlet cocktail


The Gimlet is a cocktail typically made of 2 parts Gin and 1 part Lime Juice. A 1928 description of the drink was “gin, and a spot of lime”. The description in the 1953 Raymond Chandler novel The Long Goodbye stated that “a real gimlet is half gin and half Rose’s lime juice and nothing else”.


  • 1 part Lime Juice
  • 4 parts Gin

Drinkware: Cocktail Glass

Preparation: Mix and serve. Garnish with a Lime Slice.

Served: Straight or poured over ice

Garnish: Lime Slice



#14 Piña Colada

pina colada cocktail

Piña Colada

The Piña Colada is a sweet cocktail made with Rum, Cream of Coconut or Coconut Milk, and Pineapple Juice, usually served blended or shaken with ice. It may be garnished with either a Pineapple Wedge, Maraschino Cherry, or both.


  • 3 oz (3 parts) Pineapple Juice
  • 1 oz (1 part) White Rum
  • 1 oz (1 part) Coconut Cream

Drinkware: Poco Grande Glass or Hurricane Glass

Preparation: Mix with crushed ice until smooth. Pour into chilled glass, garnish and serve.

Served: Blended with ice (frozen style)



#15 Bloody Mary

bloody mary cocktail

Bloody Mary

A Bloody Mary is a cocktail containing Vodka, Tomato Juice, and other spices and flavorings including Worcestershire Sauce, Tabasco Sauce, Garlic, Horseradish, Celery, Olives, Salt, Black Pepper, Lemon Juice, Lime Juice and/or celery salt.


  • Worcestershire Sauce
  • Salt
  • Pepper
  • 1/2 oz (1 part) Lemon Juice
  • 1 1/2 oz (3 parts) Vodka
  • 3 oz (6 parts) Tomato Juice
  • Tabasco Sauce

Drinkware: Highball Glass

Preparation: Add dashes of Worcestershire Sauce, Tabasco Sauce, Salt and Pepper into Highball Glass, then pour all liquid ingredients over ice cubes. Stir gently. Garnish with Celery Stalk and Lemon Wedge.

Served: Poured over ice.

Garnish: Celery Stalk



#16 Tom Collins

tom collins cocktail

Tom Collins

The Tom Collins is a cocktail made from Gin, Lemon Juice, Sugar, and Carbonated Water. First memorialized in writing in 1876 by Jerry Thomas, “the father of American mixology”, this “Gin and Sparkling Lemonade” drink is typically served in a Collins Glass over ice.


  • 1 oz (2 parts) Lemon Juice
  • 1 1/2 oz (3 parts) Old Tom Gin
  • 2 oz (4 parts) Carbonated Water
  • 1/2 oz (1 part) Sugar Syrup

Drinkware: Collins glass

Preparation: Mix the Gin, Lemon Juice and Sugar Syrup in a Collins Glass with ice, top off with Soda Water, garnish and serve.

Served: Poured over ice

Garnish: Lemon Slice, Maraschino Cherry



#17 Irish Coffee

irish coffee cocktail

Irish Coffee

Irish Coffee is a cocktail consisting of Hot Coffee, Irish Whisky, and Sugar, stirred and topped with Cream.


  • 2 2/3 oz (4 parts) Hot Coffee
  • 1 1/3 oz (2 parts) Irish Whisky
  • 1 tsp. Brown Sugar
  • 1 oz (1 1/2 parts) Cream

Drinkware: Irish Coffee Mug

Preparation: Heat the Coffee, Whisky and Sugar. Pour into Irish Coffee Mug and top with Cream. Serve hot.

Served: Hot



#18 Appletini

appletini cocktail


An Appletini is an Apple Martini cocktail containing Vodka and one or more of Apple Juice, Apple Cider, Apple Liqueur, or Apple Brandy. This drink, originally called an Adam’s Apple Martini because the bartender who created it was named Adam, was created in 1996 at Lola’s West Hollywood restaurant.


  • 1 1/2 oz (3 parts) Vodka
  • 1/2 oz (1 part) Apple Schnapps
  • 1/2 oz (1 part) Cointreau

Drinkware: Cocktail Glass

Preparation: Mix in a shaker, then pour into a chilled Cocktail Glass. Garnish and serve.

Served: Straight up

Garnish: Apple Slice, Maraschino Cherry