Skip to content
Complete guide to cocktails

Complete guide to cocktails

Cocktails don’t have to be complex. With a few quick household substitutions you can become a master mixologist in no time.

The essential tools

Ingredients aside, there’s some essential kit that makes cocktail mixing all the easier.

  • A spoon for stirring
  • A cocktail shaker (These often come with extras too, like a strainer, pourers and a jigger which is the technical term for a spirit measure)
  • A glass
  • Ice

A good cocktail shaker helps blend the flavours, bringing the cocktail to life. If you’re making basics like an Aperol spritz, you can get away without a shaker.

The spirits

It goes without saying but stick to the spirits you love! There will be hundreds of easy cocktails you can make with your favourite spirits.

If you want to take it to the next level, branch out.

Have a bottle of each base spirit (whisky, rum, gin, vodka and tequila) and then expand from there. Add other ingredients and flavours to your repertoire like bitters, vermouth, Campari and syrups.

The quality of spirits will have a big impact on the overall flavour too. It’s worth spending a little more on good quality spirits to really enjoy your cocktails.


For equipment, there are some easy swaps you can make using household equipment:

  • A cocktail shaker can be subbed for a jar with a tight lid or a thermos.
  • A jigger can be swapped for an egg cup.
  • No juicer? No problem. Just squeeze by hand.
  • A tea strainer can be used in place of a strainer.

And then for ingredients, the swaps are simple:

  • Sugar syrup can be replaced with just sugar or even maple syrup or honey
  • Lemons can be swapped for lime, grapefruit or any other citrus fruit
  • A light beer like a pilsner is a good fizzy and low alcohol subsitute for prosecco 
  • Sweet vermouth can be swapped for port or madeira wine (and vice versa)
  • Dry vermouth can be swapped for dry sherry

For other subs, get creative. Cocktails are all about balance so sour ingredients need to be swapped for other sour ingredients and so on.

Classic cocktails for beginners

Here are some of our favourite summery cocktails that can be mixed up in minutes.

Rosé mimosa

Light, bubbly, and refreshing, this cocktail is ideal for beginners and adds flair to any summer occassion.

Long island iced tea

This classic cocktail packs a boozy punch and is best sipped on.

Sub vanilla vodka for your favourite vodka and triple sec can be replaced with cointreu or grand mariner.

Serve up in a big jug and divide between tall glasses and friends.

Whisky sour

Sours are a super easy staple, just swap out the whisky for another dark spirit like rum or amaretto for another tasty drink.


For serious cocktail aficionados only, negronis are bitter and sour which makes them a brilliant pre-dinner drink.

Gin martini

Refreshing and balanced, perfect for an early evening sipper. 

Swap out the pink gin for any other kind of gin and serve in a gin glass or a tall glass.

You can pick up all the ingredients for these easy cocktails at your local Nisa. Have a go at making them and show us your best efforts on social media.

Remember to always drink responsibly. For more information, visit the Drink Aware website.