This past summer, I decided that I wanted to further advance my skills in the food industry and decided to take a 3-week course in bartending. I have done a few shifts now, and I think one of the most surprising things that have come out of the whole experience is how much I actually enjoy it.

To put it simply, there are hundreds of types of drinks (and names for drinks) out there, and each person does the drink different from the next.

There may even be a drink that is specific to one part of the country, that others in another part have never heard of (Seriously, does anyone outside of KY know what a John Wall shot is? (FYI, it's blue raspberry vodka, sour mix, and Sprite).

So, if you are looking to up your bartending game, here are 21 super simple cocktails to help get you started.

1. Cape Codder

Otherwise known as a vodka cranberry. One simple recipe is 1.5 oz of vodka, fill with cranberry juice, and then garnish with lime (if wanted).

2. Cosmopolitan (Cosmo)

Want something fancy, but not too hard to make for all of your girl friends? This Cosmo recipe should do the trick.

3. Margarita


Here's a simple recipe for one you can make at home.

4. Fuzzy/Hairy Navel

All you need is Peach Schnapps (or peach liqueur) and OJ. To make it hairy, just add some vodka.

5. Moscow Mule

A fun drink that includes vodka, lime juice, and ginger beer. Personally, I add a little bit of simple syrup to help make it a bit sweeter. Or, if you're a bourbon lover, try the KY Mule.

6. Woo-Woo


Let me just say that this is one of my personal favorites, and combines Peach Schnapps with cranberry juice.

7. Any of your liquor and tonic, or liquor and soda

Some of the more popular ones include Gin (or vodka) and Tonic or Maker's (Bourbon) and Soda. But, the basic recipes are the same.

8. S.O.B. (Sex on the Beach)

Not the most appropriately named of cocktails, but sure a fun one.

9. The breezes family

Max Pixel

What makes these groups of drinks a family? Simple, the vodka and cranberry juice that is in pretty much all of them.

Sea: add some grapefruit juice. One of the more common ones that I have seen at parties.

Summer: time to bring out that OJ again!

Bay: yum, pineapple juice!

10. Screwdriver

OJ and Vodka! Variations include the KY screwdriver (made with bourbon), left-handed screw, and rum screw.

11. Daiquiri 

Also can be made with real fruit if you want extra flavor. However, here's the recipe without.

12. Martinis


The simple martini is either gin or vodka and a small amount of dry vermouth. Of course, like with anything, there are variations, it just all depends on what you and your friends like.

13. The Manhattan

Another classic that has survived throughout the years. Get your bourbon on with this fantastic drink. Here are a few recipes to get started.

14. L.I.T's and the variations

One of the more fun ones because it literally has EVERY SINGLE TYPE of alcohol imaginable.

15. Old Fashioned


A must-know among Kentucky bartenders. If you like bourbon chances are you'll like this one.

16. Negroni

Here's a recipe to get you started.

17. Whiskey Sour

Another one of the common party drinks. Egg white optional.

18. Rum and coke (or any other soft drink)


Simple, but nevertheless common.

19. White and Black Russians

Vodka and coffee liqueur? What more could you want? Add a little cream and you've got a White Russian.

20. White or red wine sangrias

Here's a recipe to get started.

21. Gimlet


Lime juice and gin, yum. Here's a recipe to help guide you.

And last but not least, two important things to know if you want to actually pursue a bartenders license yourself:

One: The most important cocktails for a bartender to know are the ones that are most commonly made in their bar.

In other words, every bar (and person) is different, and these recipes are just one of the MANY ways to make these drinks.

Two: No recipe is written in stone.

Different bars have different specs, ingredients, jiggers, and different ways of doing things, and recipes change over time!