Here are the top craft cocktails to try at home! These fancy drinks feature homemade syrups, unique liqueurs or craft ice for a truly impressive glass.
Want to make craft cocktails made at home? You’ve come to the right place. Here at A Couple Cooks we love cocktails: in fact, we have over 200 recipes from classic cocktails to more unique drinks. Keeping it easy has it’s place, but what about when you want to impress? This collection of fancy mixed drink recipes is for when you want to pull out all the stops!
What is a craft cocktail? There’s actually some contention when it comes to the definition, but here’s our professional opinion. A craft cocktail is a hand-crafted alcoholic mixed drink made with fresh ingredients and no pre-made mixes. One or more of the following elements might be present:
This craft cocktail has a retro name and a sweet tart flavor: it’s the Gold Rush! The name makes it sounds like a 1920’s mixed drink, but it’s actually a modern take on the classic whiskey sour. It features a homemade honey syrup. Take it over the top with handmade crystal clear ice. The combination of the zing of the lemon, the nuance of the honey, and the spicy whiskey finish is perfection.
If you’re an avid homemade cocktail drinker, here’s a must-make craft cocktail: the Paper Plane! This one is a brilliant study in balance and contrast. It’s bitter, sweet and tangy all at once, hitting a magical synergy between the bourbon and amaro. It’s truly remarkable, and you might think it was a classic cocktail. But look a little closer: did 1920’s bartenders mix Kentucky bourbon with Italian bitters? No, this one’s a true modern classic.
Here’s a fancy craft cocktail to impress all your friends: the Fernet Sour cocktail! After drinking up nearly 200 popular cocktails, we can safely say that this is one of the most uniquely delicious cocktails we’ve ever had. It’s also known as the Industry Sour, starring bitter and herbal Fernet-Branca, funky green Chartreuse, and lime juice. There’s so much nuance in flavor going on, you can barely describe it: sweet, sour, bitter and refreshing all at once.
Here’s a way to take one of the oldest classic cocktails up a notch…or two or three: a Smoked Old Fashioned! This craft cocktail is for the adventurous home bartender who’s after over-the-top flavors. It requires some special equipment (a smoking gun!) and a little time. But it’s absolutely worth it! The Smoked Old Fashioned is a cocktail that’s cold-smoked, infusing a smoky depth into the classic whiskey drink. It makes a drink experience you’ll never forget.
Here’s an herbal, sweet tart craft cocktail that’s a new favorite around here: the Lavender Tom Collins! It’s a spin on the classic Tom Collins starring this fresh herb. And wow, is it full of flavor! It’s sweet tart, zing and bubbly, with a subtle floral finish to each sip. It’s got just the right essence of lavender that leaves you wanting more. Make up a batch of this Lavender simple syrup for this drink. (Or, try a Rosemary Collins or Mint Collins with rosemary syrup or mint syrup.)
Here’s a fancy craft cocktail featuring Scotch: the Penicillin! This modern classic cocktail highlights the peaty flavor beautifully. Combining Scotch with lemon, honey and ginger makes for a sort of high-class version of the Whiskey Sour. While it pleases even non-Scotch fans (me), you’ll need two bottles of Scotch…making it a drink for die hards.
A gin gimlet is a classic sour cocktail made of lime juice, gin and simple syrup. While it became popular in the 1950’s, it’s included in a 1930’s cocktail book so it’s decades older. Add fresh herbs to give it a craft cocktail vibe! Basil’s peppery flavor pairs nicely with the botanical essence of gin in the gimlet, a drink made of lime juice, gin and muddled basil.
If you love the spicy flavor of the fresh root, might we suggest this Ginger Cocktail? It’s a refreshing spin on the vodka martini featuring, lemon juice and dry vermouth. Each sip has just the right balance of sweet and tangy, with a spicy finish. The bold flavor of the homemade ginger syrup is a unique way to spice up your cocktail repertoire!
Here’s a twist on the classic cocktail that every adventurous drinker needs to try: the White Negroni! This lighter spin on a Negroni and has a vibrant, clear yellow color that’s unmistakable. And the flavor? Light, a little floral, still bitter, but decidedly more interesting than the classic (in our opinion). It uses unique Suze and Lillet Blanc, but they’re absolutely worth adding to your collection if you love craft cocktails.
This craft cocktail is a spin on the classic Manhattan: it's the Brooklyn! The Brooklyn is similarly spirit forward, with a few special twists to add nuance. Maraschino liqueur and dry vermouth add intrigue and round out the flavor in this sophisticated drink. It also uses a specialty amaro to bring in bitter notes. This one is perfect for impressing friends at a dinner party or cocktail hour.
Sonja Overhiser is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best healthy cookbooks of 2018. She’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the food blog A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Sonja seeks to inspire adventurous eating to make the world a better place one bite at a time.
Alex Overhiser is an acclaimed food photographer and author based in Indianapolis. He’s host of the food podcast Small Bites and founder of the recipe website A Couple Cooks. Featured from the TODAY Show to Bon Appetit, Alex is author of Pretty Simple Cooking, named one of the best vegetarian cookbooks by Epicurious.