The most popular bar drinks stem from variations of a few simple recipes using gin, rum or vodka. It is said that if a bartender can make a margarita, a daiquiri, a piña colada, and a martini, he or she should be able to make pretty much any drink requested.


This popular highball is a traditional Cuban drink. To prepare, gently crush lime juice, sugar and mint leaves with a ‘muddle.’ Add white rum with a little soda water, and top off the glass with ice. There are many variations, such as berry and apple mojitos, which use flavored liqueurs.


Cosmopolitans are a vodka-based cocktail with Triple Sec (an orange flavored liquor), cranberry juice and lime juice. They are served in martini glasses, sometimes with a lemon wedge to garnish.


Many variations exist, but a classic margarita has tequila, Triple Sec, and lime or lemon juice. Frozen margaritas have crushed ice, but they can also be served without. Margarita glasses have a distinctive shape with two ‘bowls’ and a long stem, however the drink is often served in a standard cocktail glass. The rim is usually coated with salt.


An original martini is made with gin and dry vermouth. Purists believe that the glass should merely be rinsed out with vermouth before pouring in chilled gin, however some bartenders will mix three parts gin to one part vermouth in a cocktail shaker before pouring. Olives or a ‘twist’ of lemon are common garnishes. Many variations with vodka now exist, such as apple martinis. However, these are not considered genuine martinis.

Mai Tai

The word ‘maitai’ means ‘good’ in Tahitian, and the drink was supposedly invented at a Polynesian restaurant in the 1940s. It’s a sweet cocktail combining white rum, dark rum, orange curaçao, pineapple juice, sugar syrup and lime juice. Sometimes apricot and/or almond syrups are added.


The main ingredient of this famous Brazilian drink is cachaça, a spirit similar to rum that is made from fermented sugar cane. It’s a simple cocktail; a lime is cut into wedges and muddled in a glass with sugar. Crushed ice is added to the glass and cachaça is poured over.


Daiquiris can be made with pretty much any fruit. Strawberry, banana and melon daiquiris are all popular, as well as frozen daiquiris where the glass is filled with crushed ice. The original recipe is simply white rum, sugar syrup and lime juice combined in a shaker and poured into a chilled martini glass.

Piña Colada

The piña colada is the national drink of Puerto Rico. It contains white rum, coconut, cream, and pineapple juice. It’s served in a large goblet with crushed ice.

Long Island Iced Tea

Despite its name, this cocktail doesn’t contain tea. Vodka, tequila, gin, rum, Triple Sec, and a splash of coca-cola are poured into a shaker and mixed thoroughly before pouring into a tall glass. Sometimes sugar syrup or ‘sweet and sour mix’ (a blend of lemon juice and sugar) is also added.

White Russian

A White Russian is a coffee-based cocktail. Vodka, a coffee liquor such as Tia Maria, and Bailey’s are mixed together. Ice can be added. This drink is so named because its main ingredient is vodka, though it is thought to have originated in the U.S.