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Top 5 Backyard Bar Drinks

Posted by David Collinge on

It's opening day, and all of your friends and neighbors are invited. That guy with the pool, shed bar, and mood lighting wants to show you that being a backyard bartender is more than just setting up bar and letting the booze fly. He asks for a dirty martini. Your mouth goes dry - you've never had anything except beer and wine, and now you're going to show that you are completely inadequate to be called a backyard bartender. To save you, read on - these are the top 5 bar drinks that every backyard bartender needs to know:

#1 -  Martini 

The classic martini is the one drink that you must know how to make. To go one step better, get to know all of the variations and you will look like a superstar. Here is the simple version:

Basic Martini

  • 2 1/2 ounces gin (or vodka if preferred)
  • 1/2 ounce dry vermouth
  • 1 or 3 olives or a lemon twist for garnish
  • Angostura bitters(optional)

Add liquor, bitters, and ice to a mixing glass, and shake or stir for 30 seconds. Strain into a classic martini glass, and then garnish with olives or lemon peel.


Dry Martini - ask how dry - some drinkers just want a mere drop of vermouth added, while others may want 1/4 oz.

Bone Dry or Desert Martini - No vermouth.

Gibson - Garnish with a cocktail onion.

Perfect Martini - Use equal parts of sweet and dry vermouth.

Dirty Martini - Add a small amount of olive brine.


#2 - Margarita

No drink says party time better than the Margarita! It's the perfect drink to make in batches, so that everyone can raise a glass to the sweet sounds of island music. From mouth-puckering lime to sweet mango, the Margarita will have the whole backyard crowd searching for that lost shaker of salt. Here's the easy way to mix up a batch:


  • 6 ounces can of frozen limeade (or frozen mango juice)
  • 6 ounces of silver tequila
  • 2 ounces triple sec
  • wedge of lime or mango
  • ice, ice baby!

    Blend it all together in your favorite concoction maker, and serve each drink with a wedge of lime. To make this drink really zing, rim the edge of the glass with the lime, and then dip the upturned glass into a bowl of coarse sea salt - then fill it up!


    #3 - Mojito

    Latin music, gyrating hips, the smell of sausage and pork wafting from the panini press - these all call for the sweet tropical taste of the Mojito, a rum-based cocktail that originated in Havana several centuries ago. Balance is the key to this drink - sweet mint and sour lime should work in tandem to create a refreshing drink that whets the appetite. Like the Martini, you are the star of the show as you meticulously muddle the ingredients and garnish your guests' drinks with a sprig of fresh mint. Here's the recipe for a Mojito that has been refined over years of effort in order to achieve perfect balance:


  • 2 ounces white or silver rum
  • 2 fresh lime cut into swedges
  • 6 sprigs of fresh mint leaves (stems removed)
  • 2 teaspoons of "simple syrup" (sugar blended with water)
  • Ice
  • Soda Water

    To make this work, you absolutely MUST use a muddler, which is a tool used to mash ingredients in order to extract all of the flavor and fragrant oils for the drink. You can buy these at any local store that carries kitchen or bartending supplies, or you can use the end of a thick, clean, blunt stick in a pinch.

     this is a muddler...


    First, muddle the lime, mint leaves, and simple syrup in the bottom of a tall glass. If you can't find simple syrup in your local grocery or liquor store, just heat and mix equal parts water and white sugar, then let it cool, and store it in the fridge for future use. After the leaves and limes have been infused into the syrup, add the ice and rum, stir, and then fill the glass with soda water. A sprig of mint and a wedge of lime later, you'll be admired as the superstar of your backyard bar.  


    #4 - G&T

    The Gin & Tonic originated with the army of the British East India Company in the early 19th century, as soldiers sought to make their malaria preventative drink (quinine) more palatable. Fortunately for us, the drink they created was far more thirst-quenching than they ever anticipated, and is a perfect accompaniment to a hot summer day playing darts or billiards in your backyard bar. Here are some suggestions to making your perfect G&T:


  • 2 ounces gin
  • 4 ounces tonic
  • ice
  • wedge of lime, lemon, orange, or cucumber


    The ratio of gin to tonic is up to you. Several recipes call for a one-to-one ratio, while others call for 1 part gin to 4 parts tonic - it all depends on your taste and how many drinks your guest intend to have during the afternoon. Cucumber? I don't get it either, but I guess it's refreshing! 


    #5 - Bloody Mary / Bloody Caesar 

    I would never consider the Bloody Mary to be a hot summer day drink - I see it as a morning hangover helper. But I can't ignore it, because I'm not always right (well, maybe that's a stretch). At any rate, there is a well-kept secret to creating a Bloody drink that is very refreshing, and it is called the Bloody Caesar. The Caesar substitutes Clamato juice (a mixture of clam and tomato juice) in place of Tomato juice. Don't turn up your nose - it works beautifully. Clamato has a thinner consistency and it has a tangy taste that tomato juice can't match. If your supermarket doesn't stock it, tell them to order it! You will thank me later. Here's the recipe:


  • 2 ounces vodka (or gin if you prefer)
  • 6 ounces of clamato (or tomato is you must)
  • tobasco sauce, worcester sauce
  • wedge of lime or celery stalk for garnish
  • ice

    Mix the vodka and clamato over ice, then add a couple of shakes of tobasco sauce, a shake of worcester sauce, and stir it up. To enhance this drink, rim the glass with a salt and pepper mixture - it will really bring out the flavors! 

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