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The basic ingredients
For those of you just starting up mixing drinks, here's a suggestions of few bottles you need to have. These will get you started at a reasonable price. From there, any additional bottle will get you a few more possible drinks!
Absolut Vodka. Vodka mixes very well with just about anything, you'll find a lot of drinks made with vodka and juices for example. Since you'll be mixing it, you don't need to go for the priciest bottle. Don't go with cheap vodka either: on top of giving you a headache, cheaper vodka leaves you with a burning feeling and a bad taste.
White rum. Just like vodka, white rum mixes very well and is used in a lot of drinks. Havana Club and Bacardi are popular choices.
Gin. London Dry Gin is the classic choice for gin. Gordon's Dry Gin is cheap and taste great for mixed drinks. For Martinis, you'll need a higher quality brand like Bombay Saphire and Tanqueray No. Ten
Tequila. This spirit doesn't mix that well except for a few exceptions: it does magic with lime juice and orange liqueur in the Margarita recipe for example. If you're short on budget, keep this bottle for your next run as good quality tequilas are quite expensive. Even for mixed drinks, don't go with the cheaper brands. Go at least with Sauza Silver or Jose Cuervo Clasico Silver, they are a bit rough for shots but great for mixing.
Triple Sec. This orange liqueur is not expensive and is used in a lot of tropical drinks. You can use it as a replacement to Cointreau, Grand Marnier and Curacao.
Mixers. Coke, Sprite, 7UP, Canada Dry, etc.
Juices. Cranberry, orange, fresh lime and lemon juices.
What you can do with these ingredients
A Girly Martini for Sex in the City fans
A Cuban Rum and Coke
The Hawaiian variation of the Sea Breeze.
A classic refreshing summer drink very similar to the Collins.
A classic Tequila cocktail
Bright citrus drink whose character will reflect your choice of rum.
A more alcoholic version of the "Matador". Light, strong and sharp.
Light and breezy, not too much of anything.
A cool tropical strong drink.
Cranberry and Orange juices mix very well in this famous cocktail.
A very simple and refreshing drink named after Cape Cod in Massachusetts.
The famous restorative tomato juice cocktail
A very simple but strong drink
The classic refreshing summer drink