7 Classic Cocktails Every Man Should Know

When you were in your early 20s, the concept of mixing a civilized cocktail was far from your radar. In fact, if you’re like most geared-up testosterone-filled boyz-not-quite-to-men, you probably drank warm beer and whatever you could steal from your parent’s liquor cabinet. Later, in college, you slugged Jagermeister shots and Captain Morgans rum and thought you were a man of the world. And when you finally hit 21 and could legally to walk into a liquor store? You were probably more concerned with the price tag than the contents of the brown paper bag you walked out with, so cheap vodka might have been your poison.

But, now, it’s time to step up to the major leagues and start acting, dressing, and, yes, drinking like a real man, and that starts today with teaching you about cocktails.

Just like being with a beautiful woman, reuniting with best friends, and enjoying the perfect sunny day in the wild, drinking a fine cocktail will leave you with more than just alcohol consumption or even a fine mix of flavors and complex palatable textures – it will be a cultured drinking experience.

Cocktail historians trace the first mention of the word to a newspaper in London, England on March 20, 1798, while the term made its first appearance in the United States in The Farmer’s Cabinet on April 28, 1803.

The first formal definition of a cocktail was posed by Harry Croswell in The Balance and Columbian Repository on May 13, 1806. Croswell defined it as:

“Cock-tail is a stimulating liquor, composed of spirits of any kind, sugar, water, and bitters—it is vulgarly called bittered sling, and is supposed to be an excellent electioneering potion, in as much as it renders the heart stout and bold, at the same time that it fuddles the head. It is said, also to be of great use to a democratic candidate: because a person, having swallowed a glass of it, is ready to swallow anything else.”

A wise man, that Harry C! Later, in 1862, the first bartender’s guide with cocktail recipes was released, How to Mix Drinks by cocktail “Professor” Jerry Thomas.

So no matter whether you’re modeling your aspiring grown-man drinking game after renowned gentlemen cocktail lovers James Bond, Don Draper from Mad Men, or “Ol’ Blue Eyes” Frank Sinatra, you’ll want to know these seven classic cocktail recipes.

And for those searching for a cocktail recipe, these could be handy. Mainly, if you’ve started to develop an interest in specific cocktails like the Painkiller drink, these classic recipes can provide the basis for understanding before you venture out.

List of Cocktails Every Man Should Know


Named after the city where it was invented in the 1870s, a Manhattan is the suit and tie of classic cocktails. It highlights fine liquor without over-sweetening when mixed with unnecessary ingredients. Still, to this day, a Manhattan is considered a sophisticated real man’s drink.

2 oz rye or bourbon

1/2 oz sweet vermouth

1-2 dashes bitters

Maraschino cherry or lemon twist for garnish

Combine the rye, Vermouth, and bitters in a mixing glass or shaker with ice. Stir for a bit, then strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a cherry or lemon twist.


The martini you order these days isn’t your grandfather’s martini, which was always made with gin. So if you a purist and you want a vodka martini, you should order it as such. Likewise, even dry martinis should have a tad of vermouth or else it’s really not a martini anymore but just dry gin

2-1/2 oz gin

1/2 oz dry vermouth

Olives or a lemon twist for garnish

Pour gin and vermouth into a shaker or mixing glass filled with ice. Stir for a bit, then strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with olives or lemon twist.


There’s no more throwback to yesteryear cocktail than the Old Fashioned. A perfect blend of simple elements, bourbon, rye, bitters, and a drop or two of sweetness, this drink started in the 19th century as a breakfast beverage!

2 oz bourbon or rye

3-4 dashes bitters

1 tsp simple syrup (1 part water, 1 part sugar shaken vigorously until it becomes a solution)

Splash of soda

If you’d like, you can add a cherry or orange slice for muddling, or lemon twist for garnish.

Add the sugar or simple syrup to the bottom of a rocks glass. Add the bitters and a splash of soda.

Muddle together the simple syrup, bitters and soda (and fruit if you’re using it) with a spoon or muddler.

Add ice, and pour in the rye or bourbon, stirring it all together.

You can also rub the lemon twist around the rim of the glass, which brings out the scents of the oils, before dropping it in the cocktail.


There’s no cocktail that’s been bastardized more over the years than a Daquari, which isn’t the sugary slush we know but a classic cocktail for gentlemen in the summertime and among tropical climes.

2 oz rum

1 oz simple syrup

1 oz freshly squeezed lime juice

Lime wedge for garnish

Combine the rum, simple syrup and lime juice with ice in a shaker and shake vigorously.

Strain into a cocktail glass or pour into a rocks glass with the ice.

Add a lime wedge for garnish.


A Sidecar is another oft-forgotten cocktail, sitting among the pantheon of classic “sours” among whiskey sours and margaritas. Ask any good bartender if they can make you a Sidecar and you’ll be greeted by a nod of respect, a salute to the inebriation to ensue, and one fantastic cocktail.

2 oz brandy

1 oz Cointreau

1 oz freshly squeezed lemon juice

A bit of sugar for the rim (optional)

Optional: rub lemon juice on the rim of a cocktail glass and dip into some sugar. Combine brandy, Cointreau and lime juice in a shaker with ice and shake vigorously. Strain and pour into the chilled cocktail glass.


There’s some debate as to the origins of a Margaritas, but we do know it was invented in Mexico in the 1940s. One story goes that it was first mixed for a beautiful patron who was allergic to most spirits but not tequila. Others claim that a bartender experimented with a new refreshing cocktail for Margarita Henkel, the daughter of the then German ambassador, and thus the drink was named. Either way, we’re happy that history provided us with this classic tequila jewel.

2 oz agave tequila

1 oz Cointreau

1 oz freshly squeezed lime juice

Lime wedge for garnish

A bit of salt for the brim (optional)

Try rubbing lime juice on the rim of the glass and dipping into some salt.

Combine tequila, Cointreau and lime juice in a shaker with ice and shake vigorously. Strain and serve in the chilled cocktail glass or into a rocks glass with the ice.

Add a lime wedge for garnish.

Read Also: How to Make a Cadillac Margarita


While Negronis are largely forgotten at bars these days, they are still a favorite for the renaissance man. It’s also an acquired taste since Campari can taste really bitter if you’re not used to it. Named after an Italian aristrocrate named Count NEgroni, he asked a bartender to add a little heat to his Americano (mix of Campari, sweet vermouth, and soda). When the intrepid barkeep added gin for soda, everyone soon wanted to drink their Americano “the Negroni way,” and this classic cocktail was born.

1-1/2 oz gin

1-1/2 oz Campari

1-1/2 oz sweet vermouth

Orange slice or lemon peel for garnish (optional)

Pour gin, Campari, and vermouth into a rocks glass with ice and stir well.

Garnish with an orange slice or lemon peel.

We suggest trying each of these seven classic cocktails, and we’d love to hear which is your new favorite!

Of course, if you really want to impress a woman you meet, perhaps with online dating sites, get her a simple shot of Don Julio Real tequila.  (Tim’s favorite.)

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