- Although many restaurants and bars are closed due to the COVID-19 pandemic, at-home cocktail making and virtual happy hours are still open for business.
- For a holiday celebration or indulgent evening, spice things up with a Pineapple Chili Margarita, or go back to basics with a bubbly Tom Collins.
- If you’re up to DIY, you can also try making your own homemade limoncello, or enlist your French press to make a fruity liquor infusion.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
If you’re looking for a new cocktail recipe to switch things up for your next Zoom happy hour, you probably have all the ingredients you need right at home.
Some cocktails require little more than a base spirit and soda, while others encourage you to include frozen or fresh fruits. If you’re saving the sugar for a baking or cooking marathon and don’t want to make simple syrup, you can use honey or agave nectar as a sweetener replacement. Adapt whatever you have on hand to fit your own tastes, and get creative with add-ins like fresh mint or basil.
Here are 11 unique cocktail recipes to try at home for a special occasion, created by spirit makers and expert mixologists.
Ritual’s Zero-Proof Paloma
If you want a non-alcoholic, low-cal alternative that far outshines various mixed fruit juices, try this recipe using Ritual Zero Proof’s Tequila Alternative. This spirit alternative is “non-GMO, gluten free, and made of all-natural botanicals” that mimic the smell, taste, and even the burn of traditional tequila, minus the alcohol and calories. Try it in a refreshing Paloma.
- 2 oz. Ritual Tequila Alternative
- .5 oz. lime juice
- 4 oz. Jarritos Grapefruit Soda
- Lime or grapefruit, to garnish
- Pour Ritual Tequila Alternative and lime juice into a tall glass, over ice.
- Top with grapefruit soda
- Garnish with fruit slice
A “highball” is made from any spirit, poured over ice, and topped with a carbonated beverage. This could be a rum and Coke, gin and tonic, or Scotch and soda.
- 2 oz. Suntory Toki Whisky
- 6 oz. soda water
- Citrus slice or shiso leaf, to garnish
- Pour whisky over ice in a tall glass
- Add chilled soda water
- Garnish with shiso leaf or citrus slice
Grand Mint Julep
If you’re don’t have the time or patience to mix multiple ingredients, try this two ingredient recipe from Grand Marnier, featuring their classic orange-flavored liqueur.
- 2 oz. Grand Marnier Cordon Rouge
- 10-15 fresh mint leaves
- Slap mint leaves to release their natural oils
- Place leaves at the bottom of a rocks glass or julep cup
- Add Grand Marnier and gently muddle (use the handle of a wooden spoon if you don’t have a muddler)
- Top with crushed ice
- Garnish with mint leaves
If you don’t have fancy cocktail tools at home, Nussbaum suggests repurposing items that you do have. “Use an empty mason jar for cocktail shaker, a mesh colander for strainer, and a metal straw for a mixing spoon,” Nussbaum said.
For a classic Tom Collins, Nussbaum uses Bar Hill gin and lemon juice, topped with soda water for a bubbly refresher.
- 2 oz. gin
- .5 oz. lemon juice
- .5 oz. simple syrup
- Soda water
- Lemon wheel, to garnish
- Mix gin, lemon juice, and simple syrup in a tall glass
- Fill glass with ice, top with soda water
- Garnish with lemon wheel
If tequila is your liquor of choice, try Nussbaum’s Skinny Margarita recipe, which excludes the triple sec that is in a traditional margarita. Nussbaum uses a Reposado tequila from Tequila Espolòn.
- 2 oz. tequila
- .75 oz. lime juice (a little more than half a lime)
- .25 oz orange juice
- .25 oz. agave nectar
- Lime slice, to garnish
- Shake all ingredients together in cocktail shaker
- Strain over ice
- Garnish with lime slice
Tip: Nussbaum also recommends throwing either frozen chunks of pineapple, freshly sliced jalapeño, fresh basil, or mint leaves to your cocktail shaker for added flavor.
If you’re up for a DIY project, experiment with Nussbaum’s recipe for homemade limoncello. “It takes a few week, but it’s easy to make and very rewarding, and a perfect addition to spring and summer cocktails,” said Nussbaum.
- Bottle of vodka
- 10 lemons worth of lemon zest
- ⅔ cups simple syrup
- Large glass container or empty wine bottles
- In glass container, add lemon zest and vodka
- Let sit for one week
- Strain out lemon zest
- Add ⅔ cups of simple syrup, return to glass container
- Let sit for 2 weeks
From there, your homemade limoncello can be added to vodka sodas, mixed port rosé wine over ice, or almost anything, Nussbaum said. This recipe can also work well with gin, or tequila and lime zest.
“A lot of cocktails can be made with ingredients and traditional groceries you already have at home, like eggs and sugar,” Perry told Business Insider. “I spend all my time making the whiskey that goes into the cocktails, so I stick with the age-old cocktails, like the ones you see on Mad Men. Not only are they easy to make, they are spirit forward, allowing the base whiskey or spirit to shine through.”
One of his go-to cocktails lately is the Toronto, an elegant mix of herbal rye whiskey elevated with spicy Italian amaro and aromatic bitters.
- 2 oz. Heaven’s Door Straight Rye Whiskey
- .25 oz. Fernet Branca
- .25 oz. simple syrup
- 2 dashes aromatic bitters
- Cherry, for garnish
- Pour all ingredients in cocktail shaker
- Add ice, stir ingredients
- Serve up, with cherry garnish
Broken Old Pal
Do you use a French coffee press for your morning brew? You can also use it for your evening happy hour, according to Perry. His Broken Old Pal cocktail is a juicy alternative that you can easily do at home, using a French press to infuse fresh grapefruit and mint with the spirits.
- 5 oz. Heaven’s Door Straight Rye Whiskey
- 5 oz. Blanc Vermouth
- 2.5 oz. Campari
- Sparkling wine
- Grapefruit wedges and fresh mint (bottom of press)
- Mint leaves, to garnish
- Place grapefruit wedges and mint at the bottom of the French press
- Add whiskey, vermouth, and Campari
- Press down to infuse the ingredients
- Pour over ice into rocks or highball glass
- Top with sparkling wine, garnish with mint
If you enjoy Aperol spritzes, mix things up with Perry’s Paper Plane cocktail, a less bubbly option that pairs bourbon with citrusy lemon juice and herbal Aperol.
- 1.5 oz. Heaven’s Door Straight Bourbon Whiskey
- .75 oz. Aperol
- .5 oz. Amaro Nonino
- .5 oz. lemon juice
- Lemon peel, for twist garnish
- Shake all ingredients vigorously with ice in a cocktail shaker
- Strain into a coupe glass
- Garnish with lemon twist
When it comes to making cocktails at home, “Don’t over complicate them — less is more,” Perry said. “Let the professionals tinker with the obscure ingredients so you don’t spend money messing up good whiskey. I always stick with no more than four ingredients per cocktail.”
Pineapple Chili Margarita
“Sometimes, a simple spoon and glass is all you need,” Chamberlain told Business Insider on making cocktails at home. “However, I suggest investing in a few quality bar tools in order to expand your options. This would include a Boston shaker, a one and two ounce jigger, and a Hawthorne strainer. A great bar spoon is always nice to have, but any home spoon can also support your efforts.”
Camarena’s Pineapple Chili Margarita recipe offers a fun twist on a traditional margarita, using muddle pineapple and swapping out a salt rim for a mix of chili powder and sugar.
- 2 oz. Camarena Reposado
- .75 oz. simple syrup or agave nectar
- .75 oz. lime juice
- .5 oz. triple sec
- 3 muddled pineapple chunks
- Pinch of chili powder and sugar
- Rosemary sprig, to garnish
- Add all ingredients into a shaker filled with ice and shake vigorously
- Rub lip of glass in chili mixture
- Strain mixture into a glass over ice
- Garnish with rosemary sprig
Tequila Old Fashioned
- 2 oz. Camarena Reposado
- .5 oz. agave nectar
- 2 dashes of bitters
- Orange peel, to garnish
- Add ingredients into a rocks glass filled with ice
- Stir to combine
- Garnish with orange peel.
For experimenting with cocktails at home, Chamberlain recommends learning the basic structure of classic drinks, and then mixing it up with personal twists. “(Classic) builds are simple, but offer you the opportunity to explore flavor pairings as well as complimentary spirit substitutions,” Chamberlain explained. “Recipes, at their core, are just a road map. A means to an end. Its up to you, the bartender, to navigate the landscapes available to you.”
Insider Inc. receives a commission when you buy through our links.