No-Frills Cocktails to Make for Happy Hour

Who among us does not love the happy hour? It’s right there in the name: an hour (or more if you’re lucky) of time to unwind, enjoy a cocktail, and enjoy the communal pleasure of chatting with friends and loved ones. While meeting up at a bar or restaurant to enjoy a round of drinks is always fun, you can also create your own happy hour at home. All you need are some basic ingredients, appropriate glassware, and a few bottles of premium spirits to mix up your favorite drinks. Making a cocktail at home shouldn’t be a complicated endeavor. After all, who wants to use cocktail smokers, put together complicated infusions, or gather 10 different ingredients to mix up overly complicated drinks? The point of happy hour is to spend less time making cocktails and more time sipping and enjoying the company of others.

National Happy Hour Day is arriving soon, so here is a list of some delicious, but simple, drinks that you can whip up yourself from the comfort of your kitchen.


This is a classic cocktail that everyone should know how to make. It’s straightforward, boozy, and has remained popular throughout the years for a reason. Try making it with Crown Royal, as this Canadian blended whisky strikes a pleasant balance between vanilla smoothness and spicy rye notes.


  • 1 1/2 ounces Crown Royal
  • 3/4 ounce Dolin Rouge Vermouth
  • 2 dashes Hella Aromatic Bitters


  1. Stir all three ingredients together over ice in a mixing glass.
  2. Strain into a chilled coupe cocktail glass.
  3. Garnish with orange twist or Maraschino cherry.

Old Fashioned

Here’s another classic whiskey cocktail that is actually one of the first examples of a mixed drink. Just three basic ingredients are required — whiskey, bitters, and simple syrup. Crown Royal also works incredibly well in this simple drink that anyone can make at home.


  • 1 ounce Crown Royal
  • 1/4 ounce simple syrup
  • 1-3 dashes Angostura Bitters


  1. Combine all ingredients in a mixing glass with ice and stir until chilled.
  2. Strain into a rocks glass over one single large ice cube.
  3. Garnish with an orange twist.

Don Julio Blanco Blood Orange Margarita

Created by Othon Nolasco, Los Angeles

The Margarita is a staple tequila cocktail that allows the earthy notes of Don Julio Blanco tequila to shine with some fresh citrus and a touch of sweetness. This is a riff on the classic version, with the addition of blood orange juice to infuse the drink with sweet and tart notes.


  • 1 1/2 ounces Tequila Don Julio Blanco
  • 1 ounce fresh Mexican lime juice
  • 2 ounces fresh blood orange juice
  • 1 bar spoon superfine sugar
  • Salt for rim


  1. Rim a chilled rocks glass with salt.
  2. Combine ingredients into a cocktail shaker over ice.
  3. Shake well.
  4. Strain contents into the salt-rimmed rocks glass over fresh ice.
  5. Garnish with dehydrated blood orange and Mexican lime wheels.

A Passion For Tequila

Created by Yolanda Baez, NYC

This drink adds layers of bright citrus, sweet tropical juice, and a refreshing floater of coconut water to the mix, still allowing the grassy and herbal notes of Don Julio to anchor the palate.


  • 1 1/2 ounces Tequila Don Julio Blanco
  • 3/4 ounce fresh lime juice
  • 1 ounce fresh passion fruit juice
  • 3/4 ounce agave nectar
  • Coconut water to top


  1. Combine ingredients into a cocktail shaker over ice and shake well.
  2. Strain contents into a Collins glass over fresh ice and top with coconut water.

Ginger Highball

The Highball is a refreshing cocktail that can be enjoyed in any season, and is one of the easiest drinks you can make. Johnnie Walker Black Label brings some smoky notes to this drink, deepening the flavor and complementing the spice from the ginger.


  • 1 1/2 ounces Johnnie Walker Black Label
  • 4 1/2 ounces Fever Tree Ginger Ale


  1. Combine ingredients in a highball glass over ice and stir.
  2. Garnish with a lime wheel or wedge.


Created by Mixologist Carlos Ruiz

If you’re ready to step up your mixing game a bit, try making this Highball riff that incorporates guava juice for a touch of sweetness and swaps out the ginger ale for tonic water to add a hint of bitterness.


  • 1 1/2 ounces Johnnie Walker Black Label
  • 1 1/2 ounces guava nectar juice
  • 1/4 ounce lime juice
  • 4 ounces tonic water


  1. Add all ingredients into balloon glass except for the tonic water.
  2. Add ice and stir to chill.
  3. Top off with tonic and garnish with a sprig of fresh thyme.

Ketel One Vodka’s Harvest Mule

The Moscow Mule is a vodka cocktail that you have likely tried before, but one that is perhaps better suited for the summer months. This autumnal riff incorporates apple and honey, along with Ketel One Vodka, transforming it into a perfect sweater weather drink.


  • 1 1/2 ounces Ketel One Vodka
  • 3 1/2 ounces ginger beer
  • 1 1/2 ounces squeezed apple juice (or store bought)
  • 1/4 ounce honey
  • Cinnamon stick


  1. Add all ingredients to a mixing glass and stir over ice.
  2. Strain into a copper mug over fresh ice, and garnish with a cinnamon stick.

Vesper Martini

The Martini is another cocktail that is simple to make, but it’s all about the right proportions. If you enjoy this drink, try making the Vesper Martini, which happens to be one of James Bond’s favorites. Get your 007 on with this Ketel One-based version.


  • 1 1/2 ounces Ketel One Vodka
  • 1 ounce Tanqueray Gin
  • 1/4 ounce Lillet Blanc


  1. Stir ingredients together in mixing glass over ice and strain into coupe glass.
  2. Garnish with lemon peel. Or, if you really want to channel James Bond, shake in a cocktail shaker over ice and strain into your glass.

This article is sponsored by Diageo.