When you hear the words “cocktail” and “party” together, you might be intimidated enough to add the words “no” and “way.”
But you don’t have to be a pro bartender to mix up some awesome martinis. Trade secret: Many of the drinks served in a martini glass are totally easy to make. Just grab your shaker, get a few simple ingredients from the store, and dish out these cocktails for your next shindig. Oh, and just because you know how easy they are to make, it doesn’t mean your guests have to. They’ll be much more impressed by your bartending skills if you don’t let them in on your little secret.
Classic Gin Martini
Is this the easiest drink to make in the world? Pretty much. Just pour a splash of vermouth into a martini glass, swirl it around, and dump it out. Then pour some gin in your shaker with loads of ice to get it really cold, and strain it directly into the same glass. Done and done. That’s it—though of course, you’ll want to throw a few olives in for good measure.
Now, the way to make your gin martini really stand out is to skip over the better-known varieties of gin in favor of a boutique label. The smaller-brand gins have interesting botanical infusions that make them stand out from the pack. For example, Oxley contains notes that will please the citrus fans in the house, while Right Gin will appeal to those who like a deeper flavor of juniper. Do a little homework, and your guests will be talking for days (and no, not about their hangovers!).
After the gazillions of cosmos that the ladies of Sex and the City consumed, the drink has faced a little bit of a backlash. With the show off the air, it’s time to bring this one back into circulation. Why did Carrie and crew like it in the first place? Because it’s simple and tasty—how can you say no to that combo? All you need is two ounces of vodka, one ounce of cranberry juice, one ounce of triple sec, and a dash of lime juice, and you’re good to go. Lest you reignite the cosmopolitan backlash, avoid any conversations that pertain to whether you’re a “Miranda” or a “Charlotte” while you knock back a few of these.
If you think your friends won’t be able to avoid bringing up Samantha when the cosmos come out, serve the flirtini instead—it’s also a breeze to make. This drink combines equal pours of pineapple juice and vodka. Mix that up in a shaker, and pour it into a martini glass. Leave a little bit of room at the top of the glass, which you can fill with a nip of Champagne or sparkling wine. The drink wouldn’t be the same without the bubbles, as that’s what gets you in the mood for some flirting. Definitely consume this one in crowd of people who are attractive and single.
Ok, this one is a little more complicated, but when you see your guests smile when they take a sip, it will have been worth it. Use two ounces of vodka, half an ounce of Chambord (a purple raspberry liqueur), half an ounce of pineapple juice, and a good squeeze from a lemon. You may not think raspberry and pineapple were meant to be sipped together. Well, one taste of this and you’ll know you were wrong. Keep in mind: You can adjust the recipes for all of these drinks to taste. If you really love Chambord, don’t be afraid to throw in a little extra and cut back on the pineapple. Mixing cocktails is an art, not a science.
This is the cocktail for the serious drinkers in the crowd—either those who really like whiskey or those who can’t get over their addiction to Mad Men. It’s just as easy to make as the classic gin martini. Just mix a few ounces of your favorite rye whiskey with a teeny pour of sweet vermouth, and sprinkle in a dash of bitters. Garnish it with a cherry, and you’re set. Just a word to the wise: One Manhattan is a good idea. Two? Well, don’t say we didn’t warn you.
Whether you prefer shaken or stirred, here are some recipes to help you become a mixology rockstar: