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Here are the top classic cocktails to try! Learn each of the most popular mixed drinks made with gin, vodka, whiskey, rum and tequila.

Classic cocktails

Want to learn the classics? As two cocktail experts and certified mixologists, here’s our master list of classic cocktails to make, carefully selected from the best of the best. Try each one and you’ll get the full gamut of drinks that helped to form today’s cocktail culture! Many of these mixed drinks date back to the 1920s, but you’ll find some even older (like the Old Fashioned and Whiskey Sour).

This list includes the best iconic cocktails based on spirit, with related cocktails listed below it. For example, you’ll see classic:

Also, our list of the top 50 Popular Cocktails includes many of the classics. These drinks are ranked in order of trending internet searches.

And now… the top classic cocktails to try!

Major classic cocktail families

Each of these classics falls into a cocktail family. There’s no definite definition of cocktail families; many authors have written books attempting to define exactly what constitutes each. (See this post on Cocktail Families and Formulas for more.) Here are the major cocktail families we’ve found encompass most of the popular classic cocktails:

  • Sour cocktails: Mixed drinks made of liquor, citrus, and sweetener. Includes Whiskey Sour, Margarita, Gimlet, Daiquiri, Sidecar.
  • Spirit-forward cocktails: Cocktails made only of liquor with no non-alcoholic mixers. Includes Manhattan, Old Fashioned, Sazerac, Martini.
  • Highball cocktails: Cocktails that use base alcohol and a larger percentage of mixer, like fruit juice or soda water. Includes Tom Collins, Moscow Mule, Americano, Gin and Tonic.
  • Champagne cocktails: Cocktails that use champagne. Includes French 75, Champagne Cocktail.
  • Spritzes: Cocktails with a mixer, soda water and champagne. Includes Aperol Spritz.
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Whiskey sour

30 Classic Cocktails to Try

  • Author: Sonja Overhiser
  • Prep Time: 5 minutes
  • Cook Time: 0 minutes
  • Total Time: 5 minutes
  • Yield: 1 drink 1x


One of the most iconic classic cocktails is the whiskey sour! This popular mixed drink is perfectly balanced with lemon, whiskey and simple syrup


  • 2 ounces (4 tablespoons) bourbon whiskey*
  • 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) fresh lemon juice
  • ¾ ounce (1 ½ tablespoons) simple syrup or pure maple syrup
  • Garnish: Orange peel and a cocktail cherry
  • Ice, for serving (try clear ice!)


  1. Add the bourbon whiskey, lemon juice, and syrup to a cocktail shaker. Fill with a handful of ice and shake until very cold.
  2. Strain the drink into a lowball or Old Fashioned glass. Serve with ice, an orange peel and a cocktail cherry. 


*You can use any variety of whiskey, but we prefer it with the sweeter flavor of bourbon. 

  • Category: Drink
  • Method: Shaken
  • Cuisine: Cocktails
  • Diet: Vegan

Keywords: Classic Cocktails

Drinks by season & occasion

More ways to select drinks: by season and occassion! Browse our lists:

More cocktail recipes

Outside of these popular classic cocktails, there are so many great cocktail recipes to try. In fact, we’ve got over 200 recipes for popular mixed drinks! Here are some of our best cocktail collections:

About the authors

Sonja & Alex

Hi, we’re Alex and Sonja Overhiser, married cookbook authors, food bloggers, and recipe developers. We founded A Couple Cooks to share fresh, seasonal recipes for memorable kitchen moments! Our recipes are made by two real people and work every time.

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