7 Popular Cocktails (That Are Actually Easy to Make!)

Some days, a bottle of beer or glass of wine just won't cut it. Mixed drinks may require a few extra steps, but as any home cook knows, flexing your creative muscles can be a welcome addition to your routine—especially when you're in a cocktail mood, but want to keep it low-key. Thankfully, even some of the most popular cocktails around are a snap to shake up.

Even without a proper home bar setup, I've found that I can still make some of my favorites—like margaritas and mojitos—at home, no special equipment necessary.

1. Margarita

jalapeno margarita

Getty Images

Anytime I'm out, I scan the drink list for a margarita. It's easily my favorite mixed drink...and, for that matter, America's. Nothing can beat its sweet-salty-sour taste. Margaritas always leave me feeling refreshed and relaxed, like I just enjoyed a day at the beach.

Luckily, margaritas may be one of the easiest mixed drinks to make at home. The simplest way to make this drink is to find a margarita mix that suits your taste buds. No sticky squeezing of juice to order; just add tequila and ice!

If you're feeling creative, try the kitchen-sink approach. So many margaritas—like redneck margaritas or creamsicle margaritas—require ingredients you might have kicking around the house. Another three-ingredient favorite-Tommy's margarita-is simply agave, lime and blanco tequila.

2. Screwdriver

screwdriver cocktail

Talk about a straightforward cocktail: A screwdriver is simply vodka and orange juice! All you need to make it is your favorite vodka, ice, and orange juice. (We prefer the OJ without pulp.)

Its history, however, is far less simple, VinePair reports: In 1949, the story goes, Turkish intelligence agents, American engineers, and Balkan refugees all enjoyed the drink. That's one version: In the other, set around the same time, Persian gulf oil workers mixed vodka with orange juice using a screwdriver (!).

I like to doll up my screwdrivers into vodka sunrises with a bit of grenadine and Sprite. The grenadine's sweet, fruity flavor balances out the acidity of the orange juice, and the Sprite's strong fizz lends great added texture.

3. Paloma

paloma drink recipes

The first time I drank a Paloma, I was surprised at how well the sharpness of the vodka and mouth-puckering sourness of the grapefruit worked together. In my experience, Palomas have not been sweet (and I prefer sweet drinks), but they are ideal for the summer. Something about grapefruit juice (or soda) is incredibly refreshing, especially on a hot day.

You can shake or stir Palomas, or make a large batch for a summer party or barbecue. They're a sprightly change from standard beer or wine options, and allow you to serve a cocktail without breaking a sweat.

4. Mint Julep

william faulkner's mint julep

The Mint Julep is a Southern classic combining the rich, warming flavors of bourbon with cooling, restorative mint and a slight sweetness. This drink has long been associated with the Kentucky Derby (and Southern writer William Faulkner) — which means that for some folks, using Kentucky bourbon is a must.

You'll also want to consider having crushed ice on hand to make this drink. It will help you fill the glass-an important part of making a Mint Julep, so you can dilute some of the alcohol. (These drinks are strong!)

Sample a Mint Julep during your next Kentucky Derby party (and make a big batch), or make a mint julep sweet tea when you want to channel your inner front-porch-sitting Southerner.

5. Mojito


Getty Images

If I can't get a margarita, I'm getting a mojito. Knowing the drink's ingredients and the need to muddle the mint, lime, and sugar, this does not seem like an easy make-at-home cocktail. But you don't need a muddler or any other fancy bar equipment to make an easy mojito. (The end of a wooden spoon works just fine!)

One of the things I love about mojitos is the lime and mint pairing, but there are also many different mojito modifications ("mojitofications?!") that will make the drink completely your own. Personally, I love a strawberry-basil mojito, but there are so many other options, too — like pear mojitos. The sky is the minty limit.

6. Espresso Martini

craft cocktails

iStock/Getty Images

Espresso martinis have only grown in popularity in the TikTok era, becoming one of the app's viral food & drink crazes, earning a spot next to feta pasta, whipped coffee, and garden focaccia.

Often, espresso martinis are a late night pick-me-up or a rich, flavorful brunch drink-the opposite of the ever-popular mimosa. At bars and restaurants, espresso martins traditionally comprise espresso from an espresso machine-but we don't all have espresso machines in our kitchens.

An easy workaround for making your own espresso martini is to use instant coffee! You'll be able to achieve the same creamy taste without having to track down fresh espresso.

7. Old Fashioned

Boozy Homemade Old Fashioned

Getty Images

I first became interested in Old Fashioneds while watching Mad Men, as the cocktail was Don Draper's go-to drink. This mixed drink has had a long lifespan and still remains popular. As is true of Jon Hamm, classics never go out of style.

Made with whiskey, an Old Fashioned allows its base spirit of bourbon or rye to shine through and be the star of the drink. Add in bitters, a bit of sugar, and an orange peel to achieve a more complete taste — that's it!

When stirring up an Old Fashioned, consider experimenting with different flavors or bitters to see what best suits your palate. Then serve over one big cube of ice in a chilled Old Fashioned glass, and enjoy!

READ MORE: 7 Craft Cocktail Recipes Every Home-Bartender Can Master