3 Cocktails That Every 21-Year-Old Should Know

For newly legal adults, it's important to know how to make your favorite drinks at home. Here are some simple recipes for classic concoctions.
July 31, 2020
8 mins read

Instead of hitting the bars with my friends, I am spending my 21st birthday with my parents and making cocktails.

So if you’re finally legal like me or if you’re just looking for some new cocktails to try at home, here are three recipes that you need to know.

1. Frozen Margaritas

While popsicles are kids’ staples for hot summer days, frozen margaritas are perfect for adults laying out by the pool.

These popular treats come in a multitude of flavors. With a basic Google search, thousands of different recipes pop up ranging from homemade to premade mixes.

I learned a simple and delicious recipe for frozen lime margaritas from my mother.

All you need for this easy recipe is one six-ounce can of frozen limeade concentrate, six fluid ounces of tequila, two fluid ounces of triple sec, ice and a blender. This is a four-serving recipe, so double it if you want to make more of these tart treats.

To start, fill your blender with crushed ice before pouring in all the liquids. Blend until smooth, or the desired texture.

Add slices of frozen strawberries to the mix to make it a strawberry margarita. There are many other frozen margarita recipes, but you can keep it simple with frozen limeade concentrate as a base.

Tip: To line the rim of your glass with salt, all you need is coarse salt and a lime wedge. Chill the glass before decorating it. Then, cut a notch into a quarter of the lime. Slide the notch all around the edge of the glass.

Pour some of the salt into a dish that is bigger than the diameter of the glass. Dip the glass rim into the dish, twisting it into the salt like a cookie-cutter in dough.

For extra embellishment, place the lime wedge on the glass rim.

2. Sangria

Some of my best friends only drink store-bought sangria. They lug bottles of Capriccio decorated with cartoon fruits around parties and pour glasses from a comedically huge jug of Carlo Rossi sangria. To my surprise, when I asked them if they had ever made homemade sangria, they were confused.

There is no standard way to make sangria, so there is a collection of contradictory instructions on the internet. According to most people, sangria is just a wine punch with fresh fruit, brandy and some sweetener added in for good measure. This means that you can personalize sangria, picking your personal favorite wines and fruits to add to the mix.

For a homemade red sangria, you will need a red wine such as a pinot noir, merlot or cabernet to use as the base.

Tip: For some mixed drinks, you should not use top tier ingredients. Sangria is a prime example of this. If you use your most expensive or fanciest wine when making homemade sangria, it won’t be worth it. With so many other ingredients in the mix, the expensive wine’s flavors won’t be able to shine through.

Fruit is the second most important component of sangria. You can use a range of fruits in your recipe, but it is best to base it on your wine. If the wine tastes like it has hints of pear or apple, or if it just says that on the bottle, then you should use those!

When choosing your fruits, you should also consider their density. You want them to remain sturdy and not disintegrate even as they mingle with the wine for a long time.

Some other fruits you might want to try are pineapples, strawberries, oranges, peaches and blueberries. However, this is a part of the recipe where you can experiment and really make the drink your own.

For sweetener, I suggest one cup of orange juice and a fourth of a cup of sugar for every bottle of wine you introduce into the mixture. Other similar recipes call for honey or agave syrup to lighten up the flavors. In addition to a sweetener, you should add one half of a cup of brandy.

Even though you also need seltzer water to make the drink really sparkle, you should mix all the wine, sweetener and solids together in a big pitcher beforehand. Refrigerate the mixture for two hours or more, and then add the seltzer to the mixture right before you start serving.

3. Martini

In the weeks leading up to my 21st birthday, the drink I was most looking forward to was the martini.

Maybe, it’s because of James Bond or Don Draper from “Mad Men.” Maybe, it’s because it was my father’s signature drink when I was growing up. Whatever it was that attracted me to this drink, it was definitely not the faint scent of jet fuel that I associated with it.

My father taught me how to make his style of martini. Like all the other recipes listed in this article, there are so many ways to make this classic drink, but here is my preferred recipe.

So this is how you make James Bond’s drink of choice, a dirty gin and vodka martini, shaken not stirred. Although many people say they prefer their martinis stirred not shaken, the cocktail shaker makes it so there are textured pieces of ice in the drink. And I think that adds to the feel.

First, you will need to chill the martini glasses. Either by filling them with ice and cool water or sticking them in the freezer. You also need to chill all the other ingredients beforehand. This drink is best served when it is very cold.

Then, you need to fill a cocktail shaker with ice, three ounces of gin, one ounce of vodka, a capful of dry vermouth and a few splashes of olive juice from the jar. Put the cap on and shake for about 30 seconds.

Before you fill your glasses up with the icy drink, place three blue cheese-stuffed olives on a skewer into the glass. Then fill your martini up to the top.

Tip: Unlike the sangria, you should use the best gin and vodka that you can get your hands on for this drink. The smoother, the better.

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