The amount of alcohol, mixers, cocktails, and options to choose from when deciding on a drink to make can be overwhelming, with there just being so many different options available.
The saving grace is that there are some classic combinations that just work so well.
By stocking up on just a few bottles of alcohol at home, you are able to make some classic, tasty drinks that you can sip yourself or serve when you have guests over.
What are the best alcohols for mixing? The best alcohols to use for mixing include gin, vodka, rum, tequila, whiskey, and brandy if you want to branch out a little bit. These alcohols can all be used to make some classic combinations that are sure to be a hit, and which give you a great base to start experimenting.
To help you get started, we have compiled a complete guide on the essential alcohols to keep to make some classic mixes, as well as the different types of cocktails and mixes you can make!
Essential Alcohols To Stock Up On
Before getting to the combinations to try out, you need to know the basic alcohols to stock up on to get started.
The foundation of a good cocktail or mix will most likely start with one of the below base alcohols, and with a few different options in your home bar, you will be able to make a wide range of cocktails and mixes at home.
These are the basic liquors to keep at home, and some tips on how to choose the best bottle of each!
Vodka is the first alcohol you should purchase when you start experimenting with mixes at home! It is clean and has a very neutral flavor, and is used in so many different cocktails.
You will find that there are different quality vodkas available, from the cheaper bottles to the top-shelf options.
The type of vodka you choose will be up to what you prefer and your budget, but just keep in mind that the more expensive the vodka, the easier it will be to drink.
If you are making cocktails that include a range of other strong ingredients, or are making tall drinks that call for quite a bit of vodka, then a mid-range option is best.
If you are making a cocktail that is centered around vodka, such as a vodka martini, then it might be better to spend a little bit more and get a higher-quality vodka.
You can also choose a flavored vodka, which could be strawberry, citrus, or even vanilla. These are good to keep on hand for certain types of cocktails and mixes, but it would be better to start off with plain vodka first.
If you’re not sure which specific vodka to buy, we’d recommend this one!
Rum is used to make quite a range of different cocktails, but you will need to keep two types of rum to cover this! Rum is a fairly affordable liquor, so buying two bottles is not too much of an expense.
The first rum to stock would be a light rum. This is used to make cocktails such as mojitos and daiquiri. Light rums give drinks a tropical taste without being too overwhelming.
Next, you will need a dark rum. There are a few different options to choose from here, such as a dark rum, a spiced rum, or even an aged rum (this particular dark rum is our favorite).
The one you choose will pretty much be up to personal preference, but most tropical cocktails call for a dark rum.
You will be able to make some classic and delicious mixes at home with light and dark rum!
Tequila is another liquor used to make different types of cocktails. As it is fairly strong alcohol, you only need a small amount for a drink, so a little goes a long way.
It is worth it to spend a little bit extra on a good-quality tequila so you can really enjoy the tequila-based drink you are having.
You can stock both golden and silver tequila, but this can be expensive, so if you have to choose between either, then it would be better to choose a silver tequila (such as this one).
Gin is a bit of a controversial alcohol, with some people loving it, and others not enjoying the taste at all.
Whatever your preference, a bottle of gin in your inventory can really make a difference with the types of mixes you can make, and some don’t even feature the strong flavor of gin.
A good dry gin is where you should start. It is very versatile, being able to make a refreshing gin and tonic to a classic dry martini, and a whole lot of different options in between.
There are so many different types of gin options to choose from with different botanicals and flavors infused, so you can start experimenting once you have made a few cocktails at home (our personal favorite is this brand).
It can be quite difficult choosing a whiskey to keep at home, especially if you are not usually a whiskey drinker and do not have a preference already.
Different types of whiskey have different characteristics, which makes them suited for different uses.
This will depend on your personal taste and the drinks you are wanting to make. As there are quite a few types of whiskey, it does help to have about two bottles to choose from, although this can be a little costly.
Bourbon should be your first choice, as this gives you a robust whiskey flavor, but it can still be used for so many different mixes and cocktails (this is a great choice if you’re new to bourbons).
If you want something a little smoother, then a Canadian blend might work better.
Rye whiskey is also a good option to make a range of drinks, but it can be a little bit too heavy on the spiced flavor.
However, it is a great option to make classic cocktails and it really does have a true-whiskey taste.
Lastly, you could opt for a blended scotch or an Irish whiskey. These should only be bought once you have stocked up on other essentials first as they won’t be used in as many cocktails.
Brandy will not come in handy as much as the above options, but it can be used to make some classic cocktails and is a good finish to a basic-stocked bar at home (we’d definitely suggest this particular choice!).
The Best Alcohol Mixes For Classic Combos
Now that you know which essential alcohols to stock up on at home, you can start experimenting with the best mixes and cocktails!
Below are the best and most classic alcohol mixes to try out for each essential alcohol:
Vodka is so versatile and adaptable to many different mixes and cocktails, which is why it should be the first bottle you stock your bar with!
Vodka pairs well with so many different flavors, as it isn’t an overpowering flavor and lends itself well to other ingredients.
These are the two classic vodka mixes:
A cosmopolitan is one of the most popular vodka mixes.
It is made with 1 ounce of vodka, some lime juice, some triple sec, and then the glass is filled up with cranberry juice and ice.
All of these are mixed together and then strained into a cocktail glass for an icy, fruity drink!
Vodka martinis are beautifully simple drinks, and it does not take much to make them!
To make a vodka martini, you need 1 ounce of vodka, 1 ounce of dry vermouth, and a few drops of bitters.
You can garnish the drink with a lemon peel or orange peel.
While basic, this drink is great to enjoy some high-quality vodka.
Rum is the perfect alcohol to use to make some tropical cocktails. It is a great type of alcohol to stock in the summer months, to give yourself a tropical drink to enjoy on a hot day!
These are some of the most classic drinks to make with rum:
Pina Coladas are delicious, and taking a sip from one will transport you to the beachside sitting in the sunlight!
You need a blender to make pina colada, but the effort is worth it.
It includes a cup of crushed ice, 1 ounce of coconut cream, 2 ounces of white rum, and a small pour of pineapple juice.
These are all blended together until combined and then poured into a glass.
Top with a little umbrella and a pineapple slice!
A daiquiri is another very popular rum cocktail.
You can make strawberry daiquiri by adding in some strawberries and strawberry juice, or just about any other fruit. However, a basic daiquiri gives you a good base to start with.
This includes 2 ounces of white rum, half a teaspoon of sugar, and a good few squeezes of fresh lime juice.
This is all poured over cracked ice, and then strained into a cooled cocktail glass. You can also sip on the drink with the crushed ice still in the glass.
Tequila in a drink brings a semi-sweet and earthy flavor, and it pairs well with a range of other ingredients and mixers. You can really get quite creative with tequila mixes!
These are classic tequila mixes to make:
A tequila sunrise is as good as it gets. It is refreshing, full of flavor, and packs quite a punch!
This cocktail includes tequila, some orange juice, and some grenadine.
The grenadine and the orange juice create a beautiful layering of color in your glass, making it look like a sunrise!
The grenadine also balances out the tart orange juice with some sweetness, making it all go down better.
A margarita is pretty much the most classic cocktail, and it is the best way to use your tequila at home.
There are many variations of a margarita, but the classic version is where you should start, and then experiment from there.
You only need three ingredients to make a classic margarita.
It requires a mix of tequila, orange liqueur, and lime juice. The rim of the glass should be salted, to add to the experience and flavor!
You might think that the only drink to make with gin is a gin and tonic, but this isn’t true! You can create some delicious mixes using a good dry gin:
A Tom Collins is an old-fashioned drink, and has been popular for over a century!
To make a Tom Collins, you mix 2 ounces of gin, a squeeze or two of lemon juice, and a 1/2 ounce of syrup, pouring them all over cracked ice.
Strain the mix through to a cocktail glass, sip, and enjoy!
Now a martini is generally made with vodka, but it can be made with gin if you’d prefer!
Mix in some gin with some vermouth over cracked ice, and once mixed, strain it into a martini glass and drink slowly.
Whiskey might be an acquired taste, but in a cocktail, whiskey can be great! These are two whiskey mixes that you have to try:
A classic whiskey sour is a great palate cleanser. It is best to use bourbon for a whiskey sour, but you can adjust this to your preference.
Mix 2 ounces of bourbon with a 1/2 ounce of lemon juice, and mix in with a teaspoon of fine sugar.
Shake together with cracked ice and strain into a glass.
As the name suggests, an Old Fashioned is a classic drink that never goes out of style.
It is made with half a teaspoon of sugar, 3 splashes of bitters, a splash of club soda, and 2 ounces of whisky.
Stir all this together in a glass and add one large ice cube.
Brandy might not be as versatile as some other alcohol options, but there are still some great cocktails to make with it!
A metropolitan is a classic brandy cocktail.
It is made with brandy and sweet vermouth, which are then tied together with some simple syrup.
It is a sweeter drink that is great to enjoy before a meal.
A brandy daisy combines a few different ingredients to create a cocktail with a unique taste.
This includes brandy, rum, curacao, lemon, soda, and some simple syrup.
These ingredients give it a balanced flavor and show off good-quality liqueurs well.
The Best Alcohol Combinations
To put it all clearly, here is a chart on the best alcohol combinations and what to make with the essentials!
|Alcohol||Best Mixes||Best Cocktails|
|Vodka||Best with fruity ingredients such as cranberry juice or lemon||Cosmopolitan and Vodka Martini|
|Rum||Best with tropical ingredients such as coconut and pineapple||Pina Colada and Daiquiri|
|Tequila||Best with citrus fruits and strong ingredients, such as orange juice or lime||Tequila Sunrise and Margarita|
|Gin||Best with vermouth, soda, lime, and sometimes simple syrup||Tom Collins and Margarita|
|Whiskey||Best with lemon, sugar, and bitters||Whiskey Sour and Old Fashioned|
|Brandy||Best with sweet vermouth, simple syrup, and lemon||Metropolitan and Brandy Daisy|
Now that we’ve looked at some of the best drinks you can make with different kinds of alcohol, let’s take a look at a few related questions on the subject!
Which is the most popular alcohol used for cocktails?
Vodka is the most popular alcohol used to make cocktails. Gin is also becoming more popular, as more and more people are enjoying the different flavors and botanicals that gin has to offer.
What is a good mix for vodka to enjoy at home?
For a simple drink to enjoy at home, add 1 ounce of vodka to a glass of chilled coca-cola. To add a little more flavor, add in a slice of lemon, and make sure to load up on ice!
If you’re looking for a few more fun cocktail ideas, check out this video from the folks over at Babish Culinary Universe!