Header image: CHOW

People may speak highly of your pie skills, or compliment your grilling game. But trust us: there is nothing more impressive than the ability to whip up a round of perfectly balanced cocktails for a crowd on a moment’s notice. These 11 well-recognized (and universally celebrated) drinks are a great place to start. Master them all, and whether it’s 5 p.m. at the office or Saturday afternoon on someone’s back porch, you’ll be the most beloved person in the room.

1. Hemingway Daiquiri

Food & Wine

This version of the daiquiri, with fresh lime and grapefruit juice, rum, and maraschino, got its name from writer Ernest Hemingway, who was known to wade through a dozen of these in one sitting. Get the recipe here.

2. Perfect Margarita


Our perfect margarita is pucker-inducing, with a higher ratio of lime juice and a lighter pour of Cointreau so it’s not too sweet. Get our Perfect Margarita recipe.

3. Moscow Mule


With a squirt of lime and a generous splash of ginger beer, the Moscow mule is so refreshing it could win over even the fiercest vodka-hater on a sweltering day. Get our Moscow Mule recipe.

4. Mojito


There is no better poolside drink than the mojito, which calls for just four ingredients: rum, sugar, club soda, and fresh mint. Get our Mojito recipe.

5. French 75


This traditional sparkling wine cocktail has two variations: one that calls for gin, and another that substitutes brandy. Get our French 75 recipe.

6. Mai Tai


Looking to get in a beachside state of mind? The fastest way is via the Mai Tai, a rum cocktail made with orange curacao and orgeat syrup (but never pineapple juice or grenadine). Get our Mai Tai recipe.

7. Old Fashioned


If you know just one brown cocktail, make it the Old Fashioned, an elemental drink that seems to only bring out the best in a good bottle of whiskey. But since it’s so basic, don’t skimp on anything, including the orange peel garnish. Get our Old Fashioned recipe.

8. Sazerac


This New Orleans variation of an old fashioned includes the addition of anise-scented absinthe, as well as a couple dashes of light, sweet, floral Peychaud’s Bitters. Get our Sazerac recipe.

9. Negroni


With its pleasantly bitter flavor profile, the Negroni is an ideal drink for before, during, or after a large meal. Get our Negroni recipe.

10. Vieux Carré


Lovers of spirit-forward cocktails would be wise to learn the ways of the vieux carré, a sophisticated, complex cocktail with rye, Cognac, vermouth, and Bénédictine, served up. Get our Vieux Carré recipe.

11. The Last Word


With equal parts gin, Chartreuse, maraschino, and lime juice, this Prohibition-era cocktail is sweet, sour, and herbaceous all at once. Get our Last Word recipe.

Susannah Chen is a San Francisco–based freelance writer. When she’s not cooking or writing, she’s on the hunt to find the world’s best chilaquiles. Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.
See more articles