The Essential 6 Basic Types of Cocktails

Cocktail is one of the most popular drinks that has captivated many people for generations. I’m one of those who is drawn to this drink. For me, cocktails are more than just drinks; they are a carefully crafted symphony of flavors that can express moods, stories, and feelings. From the classics that have stood the test of time to innovative creations that push the boundaries of flavor, there is a cocktail for every mood, occasion, and palate.

There are six classic types of cocktails: Old Fashioned, Whiskey Highball, Martini, Sidecar, Daiquiri, and Flip. Based on these types, you can create multiple types of cocktails with different elements like lemon juice, grapefruit juice, or even yogurt. Let’s have a look at 6 basic types of cocktails.

old fashion cocktail

The Old Fashioned cocktail is a true classic in the world of mixology, renowned for its simplicity and timeless appeal. This cocktail dates back to the early 19th century, making it one of the oldest known cocktails still in widespread circulation.

What sets the Old Fashioned type apart is its minimalistic approach to ingredients and preparation. Made with whiskey (bourbon or rye), sugar (sugar cube or simple syrup), and bitters (typically Angostura bitters), it’s typically garnished with a twist of citrus peel or a cherry.

Types of cocktails - old fashioned

I can still remember the flavor of the whiskey when I first tried this type of cocktail. It’s a balanced blend of sweetness, bitterness, and distinct whiskey. Unlike many modern cocktails that incorporate numerous ingredients and flavors, the Old Fashioned allows the natural characteristics of the whiskey to shine.

Sipping an old fashioned in a favorite bar made me feel like taking a step back in time. It’s a drink that transcends trends and continues to be celebrated for its elegance and simplicity, making it a beloved choice among cocktail lovers.


The next type of classic cocktail is sidecar. It is a classic cocktail that oozes sophistication and charm. The classic Sidecar recipe calls for three main ingredients: cognac or brandy, orange liqueur (typically Cointreau or triple sec), and freshly squeezed lemon juice. The mixture is shaken with ice and strained into a sugar-rimmed glass, perfect balance between sweet and tart flavors. Its citrusy notes make it an ideal aperitif or after-dinner drink.

Margarita is a type of sidecar

Whether sipped in a trendy urban cocktail lounge or enjoyed in the comfort of one’s home, the Sidecar always bring me a sense of nostalgia for a bygone era.


The second type of cocktail is Martini – a symbol of refinement and class. The Martini glass, with its distinctive V-shaped design, is instantly recognizable and has become an icon in itself. It has been a muse for countless artists and writers, featured in classic novels and films. Its timeless appeal has inspired fashion trends, with the Martini glass even making appearances in clothing designs.

This type of cocktail drink is typically composed of just two main ingredients: gin and vermouth. The cocktail is traditionally garnished with an olive or a twist of lemon peel, adding to its visual appeal and aromatic complexity.

Martini is one of the 6 basic cocktails

One of the Martini’s defining characteristics is its dryness. During my initial experience with a Martini, the bartender inquired about my preferred dryness level, offering options that ranged from “wet” (featuring more vermouth) to “dry” (with less vermouth) all the way to “bone dry” (containing almost no vermouth).

There are many Martini types, such as fruit-infused vermouth or unique garnishes like pickled onions (a Gibson) or capers (a dirty Martini).

Whiskey Highball

The Whiskey Highball is a simple yet immensely satisfying cocktail with a blend of whiskey and soda water. The choice of whiskey can vary, with many preferring a light and mellow bourbon or a Japanese whisky. Soda water, typically carbonated and chilled, is used to dilute the whiskey and add a bubbly, refreshing element to the drink.

It’s an easy-drinking cocktail that suits a wide range of palates, from those new to whiskey like me to seasoned enthusiasts.

Whiskey Highball is a basic type of cocktail

The type of cocktail is often served in a tall, narrow glass and garnished with a citrus twist, maraschino cherry, or a sprig of mint for added visual appeal.

In Japan, the Whiskey Highball holds particular cultural significance. It’s often considered a quintessential drink to enjoy with a variety of dishes, including sushi and other Japanese cuisine. Bars and restaurants in this country take pride in perfecting the art of making the Whiskey Highball, ensuring that it’s served ice-cold and effervescent.


The Daiquiri is a refreshing and tropical delight that originated in Cuba, specifically the Daiquirí region, which is where it got its name. The cocktail’s creation is credited to an American mining engineer named Jennings Cox, who mixed local Cuban ingredients to create this type of cocktail.

Comprising white rum, lime juice, and simple syrup, it’s a cocktail that balances sweetness with tartness. Served ice-cold and strained into a chilled glass, the Daiquiri is one of the most favorite poolside or beachfront cocktails.

Over the years, the Daiquiri has spawned numerous variations and adaptations, such as the Strawberry Daiquiri, Hemingway Daiquiri (or Papa Doble), and the Frozen Daiquiri.

Its simplicity, balance, and refreshing taste continue to make it a go-to choice for those seeking a cocktail that’s easy to enjoy on a hot day or as an aperitif.


The Flip is a unique and somewhat obscure cocktail that dates back to colonial America. This type of cocktail is characterized by its unique combination of ingredients, including a base spirit (rum, whiskey, or brandy), a whole egg, sugar, and various spices or flavorings.

One of the defining features of a Flip is its creamy and frothy texture. This is achieved by vigorously shaking the mixture, which incorporates the egg and sugar into the alcohol while creating a rich, velvety foam on top. Nutmeg is a traditional garnish for a Flip, sprinkled atop the foam, adding a hint of warmth and spice to the overall flavor profile.

Eggnog is one of Flip type

Flips were often enjoyed as both a warming and comforting drink, suitable for the colder months due to the heated iron rod technique, and as a celebratory libation for special occasions.

Over time, the Flip has evolved, and variations have emerged, incorporating different spirits and flavorings. While it was once common to serve Flips warm, today’s iterations are typically chilled and served in cocktail glasses or mugs.

Although less common in modern cocktail culture, the Flip continues to hold a special place for those intrigued by the rich tapestry of mixological history and tradition.

These six different kinds of cocktails represent a spectrum of flavors and experiences, each catering to different tastes and occasions. With them, you can create your own cocktail recipes. Whether you prefer the timeless simplicity of an Old Fashioned or the elegance of a Martini, the world of cocktails offers something for everyone to savor and enjoy.

Johanna Cleveland
About the author

Hi, I'm Kate, the creator of Happy Baking Days. I'm a food lover, recipe creator, and kitchen explorer. I have amateur baking knowledge gained from years spent in the kitchen with my grandma and mum, where I graduated slowly from dusting work surfaces with flour and licking the spatula to the finer arts of pastry and meringue. Now in my own kitchen, I put all those years of training into practice, experimenting with recipes and ingredients from around the world. Join me as I share my culinary journey and favorite recipes that make cooking a delightful experience.

Leave a Comment