We admit it. Researching this article was fun. Some might say enjoyable even. What it has left is a legacy of cocktail creations and a breadth of beverages that we had no idea even existed. Because here’s the secret: cocktails at home have got nothing to do with recipes.

Sure, in your local hipster bar or our favorite, the speakeasy with no name outside, you need to be served consistently. A Manhattan should have the right ratio of whiskey to vermouth, and a classic margarita needs the right quantity of lime. But at home that’s all different and as long as you have just a few of the right ingredients and you understand balance, anything is achievable and your friends are going to LOVE you!

Let’s start with balance. Overly sweet or puckeringly tart never works, so you’ll need a few different bitters and some simple syrups.’s fabulous article on The 12 Best Locally Made Bitters in the USA is a great starting point. Local, artisanal bitters are not the hipster beard of the cocktail world – they’re simply the best. Jack Rudy and Scrappy’s are particularly good and offer a great range of flavors, but you’ve also got to try Dram. Simple syrup is much easier and you should always have a homemade bottle in your arsenal (OK, it might be the easiest thing in the world to make, but just in case,