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Mai Tais vs. Mojitos: Cocktails For Beginners

Our cheat sheet for your weekend GNO.

You and your friends are on a mission to get ~happy drunk~, but you have no idea what to order? Here’s our guide to cocktails you’re sure to encounter whether you end up in a quiet bar or that super club everyone seems to be going to. 

“Cocktails are usually looked at as ‘girly drinks’ because they usually come in a lot of sweet, fruity flavors,” says Vanessa Rebadon, bartender at Nest MNL and one of the finalists for the upcoming international Diageo World Class Competition.

“Most standard cocktails are vodka-based and made of white spirits, because they blend well with fruity flavors and don’t have a distinct flavor of their own.” Cocktails usually have a base formula of a spirit (in other words, alcohol), lime juice, and sugar syrup. “It’s the basis of most common cocktails, and other ingredients like fruit juices, purees, and liqueurs are added on top of it,” says cocktails specialist Lee Watson of the Discovery Group.   


Vanessa gives us the lowdown:

1. Mimosa
Think Carrie and Samantha of Sex and The City sipping orange drinks over brunch as they talk about their weekend escapades. Mimosas are perfect for the cocktail newbie because it’s just fresh orange juice mixed with champagne. 

2. Cosmopolitan
This is mainly made up of vodka, triple sec (or orange liqueur), and cranberry juice. 

3. Margarita
This is tequila based, with triple sec, lemon juice, and salt on the rim. It usually comes in different fruity variations like strawberry and mango, which will make you feel like you’re drinking a smoothie.

4. White/Black Russian
The White Russian is a creamy drink made of vodka, cream, and coffee liqueur (usually Bailey’s or Kahlua). Imagine your morning latte with a kick of alcohol. Take the cream out of the mix and you’ll have a Black Russian, made of coffee liqueur and vodka. 

5. Long Island Iced Tea
Don’t let the “Iced Tea” in the name fool you! This cocktail has a pretty high alcohol content because it’s made with at least five different spirits: rum, tequila, gin, vodka, and triple sec. It’s usually mixed with iced tea, lemon, and even cola, which masks the taste of all the mixers.

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6. Mai Tai
This is made with rum, liqueur, and lime juice. Most bartenders here mix it with almond syrup or coconut rum like Malibu, and it has a sweet, tropical taste. 

7. Amaretto sour
This is a sweet and sour drink made with amaretto, which is an almond liqueur sweet on its own, and lime juice, which makes it sour. It’s usually served with a cherry on the bottom.

8. Mojito
A classic, refreshing cocktail made with crushed mint leaves, white rum, muscovado syrup (if you’re a purist), lemon juice, and soda water. It’s usually served with crushed ice. 

Next time you go out on the town, read our cheat sheet and imagine what each one tastes like so you don’t end up hating what you’ve ordered.


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