5 Classic Cocktails Every Home Bartender Should Know, According to The Educated Barfly - Imbibe Magazine Subscribe + Save

If you’re a home bartender who loves watching cocktail videos on YouTube and Instagram, you’re probably a fan of The Educated Barfly’s Leandro DiMonriva. Since 2017, the actor-turned-bartender has been producing videos on how to make cocktails at home, including everything from cocktail history to tips and hacks. Before that, he worked for a decade at Cole’s French Dip, the home of LA’s award-winning bar The Varnish. Following up on a Q&A with DiMonriva in our January/February 2024 issue, we asked him which cocktails he thinks every home bartender should have in their repertoire. He shares them here, from the easiest to intermediate, along with tips and related cocktail videos.

Old Fashioned

“I imagine the Old Fashioned would probably be the first one on most people’s list just for the fact that it is literally the embodiment of the definition of the word ‘cocktail’ as it was defined in 1803,” says DiMonriva. “It’s also a drink everyone should know as it is relatively easy to balance, is infinitely riffable, and, when made well, a good representation of good cocktail making practice.”

DiMonriva’s Tip: Don’t overdo the bitters in this drink. A good rule of thumb is to look into the bottom of the glass and see how the bitters pool. If there is a small halo around the bitters you know you’re in the clear. If the bitters fills the entire bottom of the glass, you likely overdid it.


“The Martini lives and dies depending on the juxtaposition of vermouth and gin,” says DiMonriva. “Another drink with infinite builds, its success rests on a lot of information the maker needs to possess. Knowledge not just of proper vermouth storage (it goes in the fridge, by the way) but also of the botanicals that make up the ingredients (both the gin and the vermouth). Without the understanding of different styles of gin and different styles of vermouth, this is an easy fail. The entire drink is a delicate balance.”

DiMonriva’s Tip: Stir your Martini! Shaking dissipates the top notes in the gin, ruining its complexity. That said, if you’re making a vodka Martini and just have to shake it, again, shake with a big rock to control dilution.


“On its face, the Daiquiri is a very simple drink,” says DiMonriva. “It is, after all, just three ingredients. There is a reason though that this is the cocktail bar managers use to test a prospective employee’s knowledge. Within its simple design lies hidden complexity that requires some previous cocktail knowledge to make. The success of a Daiquiri lies in its raw ingredients. Are the limes used sweet or tart? What ratio simple syrup is being used? What are the flavors in the rum? There are many different ways to construct this three-ingredient, 3-ounce drink, the ratios change depending on the answers to the above questions. One wrong step can completely ruin the drink.”

DiMonriva’s Tip: The Daiquiri is all about balance and texture. One way to ensure texture is to shake your Daiquiri with a big rock of ice and one small cheater cube. The big rock will ensure low dilution and superior texture while the cheater cube will ensure the proper diution. Your drink will come out frothy with an almost milkshake-like texture.

Whiskey Sour

“Again another seemingly simple drink,” says DiMonriva. “The Whiskey Sour itself is an easy build. The technique and knowledge come with handling of the egg white. Too much dilution and you kill the foam. Bad shaking technique doesn’t give enough aeration, and the drink falls flat. It’s a test of physical bar knowledge and practiced technique.”

DiMonriva’s Tip: When making a Whiskey Sour, add the bitters to the top of the foam. Not only is it the perfect complement to the drink, but it is also great presentation.

Ramos Gin Fizz

“I really couldn’t think of another drink more complicated in its details than this one,” says DiMonriva. “Not only is it an egg white drink but also you’re hand-whipping heavy cream. All the ingredients are temperature-sensitive. (If your citrus and cream aren’t cold enough, you’ll end up with a curdled mess.) And of course, let’s not forget the shaking required to pull this one off with a nice stable foam rising above the rim of the glass that won’t buckle. Many have attempted a good Ramos and very few have succeeded.”

DiMonriva’s Tip: When making a Ramos, after all the ingredients have been strained into the glass, rest the glass in the refrigerator for 10 minutes. This will help solidify the foam so when you add your soda water, you’ll be able to build up that foam well beyond the rim of the glass without it buckling on you.

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