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5 simple cocktails you can easily make at home

By David Yeung 19 August 2020

Header image courtesy of Kaizen Nguyễn (Unsplash)

Since Hong Kong bars and nightclubs have been ordered to shut due to the rise of COVID-19 infections, throats around the city have been feeling parched indeed. Social distancing measures are extended week after week, and at this point, we are definitely feeling the yearning for a good night out with a nice refreshing cocktail—or many, depending on the mood.

Luckily, with some simple ingredients you probably already have around the house (and a tiny bit of effort), you can craft a tasty and extraordinary cocktail from home! Here are five simple and easy cocktail recipes that require only a handful of ingredients, hardly any preparation at all, and only minimal use of equipment—but guarantees maximum satisfaction when quenching your thirst.

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Gin & tonic

We’ll start you off easy. This straightforward cocktail is one of the most classic and well-known, a staple in any bar or restaurant. And as you might have guessed, it really only requires two ingredients: gin and tonic. We like to add some garnish to give the drink a bit of flair, but if you’re feeling extremely barebones, then this is definitely the drink for you.

Although its global reputation proceeds it, we’ll bet you didn’t know that the G&T was originally invented by British officers in the British East India Company in the early nineteenth century. With a lot of tropical mosquitoes come a lot of diseases, and the story goes that, in an effort to combat malaria and dengue fever, quinine was added into tonic water. Quinine boasts remedial properties and offered a traditional cure to help prevent and treat malaria, but due to its unpleasant taste, officers decided to mix in water, sugar, lime, and gin to make it palatable. The rest is history and today, there is still quinine in tonic water, but much less of it.

Ingredients

  • Gin
  • Tonic water
  • A wedge of lime

Recipe

  1. In a highball glass filled with ice cubes, pour the gin, then top with tonic.
  2. Gently stir to combine, but not so much so that you lose carbonation.
  3. Garnish with a lime wedge.
Photo Credit: Sebastian Coman (Unsplash)
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Negroni

Considered as a popular Italian apéritif, the Negroni is a one part gin, one part vermouth Rosso, and one part Campari cocktail. Stories go that this bittersweet spirit-forward cocktail was invented in 1919 in Florence, Italy, when Count Camillo Negroni asked his bartender to replace the soda water in his favourite cocktail Americano with gin instead to give it a bit of a kick. Along with its ingredients of Campari, sweet vermouth, club soda, and an orange garnish, the Negroni was born.

Campari can be an acquired taste that some people will love while others will not, so it does take some getting used to and it might not be for everyone. However, it’s such an easy cocktail recipe to put together that you will certainly be able to impress guests at your next dinner or cocktail party. A traditional Negroni is stirred, not shaken, and built over ice in an old-fashioned or rocks glass and garnished with a slice of orange.

Ingredients

  • Sweet vermouth
  • Campari
  • Gin
  • An orange slice or twist

Recipe

  1. Fill an old fashioned glass with ice.
  2. Add one part sweet vermouth and one part Campari, and one part gin.
  3. Stir slow and well.
  4. Gently squeeze an orange twist or slice over the glass, then add it as a garnish.
Photo Credit: Cottonbro (Pexels)
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Old fashioned

In terms of ingredients, the old fashioned probably calls for the most preparation out of all drinks on this list, but it is still one of the easiest cocktail recipes to put together. Made by muddling sugar with bitters and adding whiskey, this drink has been a well-respected drink throughout the bartending community.

The term “old fashioned cocktails” was first discussed in the Chicago Daily Tribune in February 1880. However, the Pendennis Club, a gentlemen’s club founded in 1881 in Louisville, Kentucky, claims the old fashioned cocktail was invented there. This simple yet sophisticated drink has impacted societies and popular culture throughout its history and even played got a starring role in AMC’s award-winning show, Mad Men, as Don Draper’s favourite drink.

Ingredients

  • Syrup of any sort
  • Angostura bitters
  • Rye whiskey or bourbon
  • An orange slice or twist

Recipe

  1. Muddle the sugar cube and bitters with one bar spoon of water at the bottom of a chilled rocks glass.
  2. Add rye or bourbon, and stir slowly and gently.
  3. Add one large ice cube, or three or four smaller cubes and stir.
  4. Slip an orange twist on the side of the cube.

Keep scrolling for the rest of the list 👇

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Gunner

For something closer to home, consider the Gunner. This refreshing and fizzy cocktail actually originated in Hong Kong—what a surprise!—and has been always been a popular drink in golf clubs and private members’ clubs throughout the city. In fact, expats contributed to its widespread favour, especially in Asian and Far East countries formerly under British colonial rule.

A Gunner is put together with equal parts ginger beer (or lemonade) and ginger ale, dashed with a hint of Angostura bitters to finish it off. Occasionally, bartenders will add a twist to it with a touch of lime cordial or lemon juice to ramp up its zestiness. “But where’s the alcohol?” you ask. Well, due to its low alcohol content (and all of it contributed by the dash of Angostura bitters), this drink is considered as a mocktail, but don’t let that put you off. With a few modifications—such as adding your favourite liquors—you can quickly and easily transform the Gunner into a refreshing alcoholic drink.

Ingredients

  • Ginger ale
  • Lime cordial
  • Ginger beer
  • Angostura bitters

Recipe

  1. Fill a highball glass with ice.
  2. Add the ginger ale, followed by lime cordial and Angostura bitters.
  3. Top up with ginger beer and stir slowly and gently.
Photo credit: Victoria Shes (Unsplash)
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Aperol spritz

Chill out this summer with a refreshing glass of Aperol spritz, a widely popular Italian apéritif that represents the quintessential Mediterranean holiday. With its sweet, bubbly, and refreshing characteristics, this drink is best enjoyed in the summertime, and it’s incredibly easy to put together as well with just a handful of ingredients.

For those who like a bit of history, the Aperol spritz was born in the northwestern part of Italy in the seventeenth century and its appeal only spread past Italian borders and all over the world in 2018. Its rise was meteoric, and by 2019, it was ranked the ninth best-selling cocktail in the world. Not bad for a simple cocktail, don’t you think?

Ingredients

  • Aperol
  • Prosecco
  • Soda
  • An orange slice or twist

Recipe

  1. In a regular wine glass, add ice.
  2. Then add three parts Prosecco, two parts Aperol, and a dash of soda.
  3. Finish with an orange wedge or twist.

If you feel like the recipes above are too easy, then you must be ready to take your cocktail game to the next level. Fortunately, there are plenty of channels and platforms that can help you improve your home bartending skill. First and foremost, Binging with Babish does some easy-to-follow tutorials on home cooking, but he also offers videos on how to make the perfect cocktail. Similarly, Cocktail Chemistry has a wealth of tutorials to turn you into the next “Professor” Jerry Thomas, whether you’re in the mood for something classic or novel.

However, in Hong Kong, The Cocktail Library offers some online masterclasses centred around the art of cocktail-making and bartending. Classes are taught by those who would know best: professional bartenders and chefs from Hong Kong’s ever-growing food scene. Learn how to shake up a classic Margarita with Noel Sabin of 11 Westside, a simple but impressive cocktail with Florian Canelas from J.Boroski, and more.

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Born and raised in Hong Kong, David is a recent high school graduate embarking on a gap year. He was always interested in writing and sharing stories that tend to be unnoticed. When he is not in the office typing away, you may find him taking photographs, running around the city, hiking, swimming in the ocean, or just chilling with a nice book at bay.

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