Best Sweet Alcoholic Drinks
There are times and places that call for bitter, assertive handcrafted cocktails—impressing fathers-in-law, nursing breakups, or taking the edge off of an arctic winter, to name a few. But just as often as we reach for a whiskey on the rocks, we find ourselves craving a sip of something sweeter.
As easy on the eyes as they are on the palette, sweet alcoholic beverages make perfect companions for brunches, happy hours, and house parties. But these lush libations are more than just arm candy in a glass.
At their finest, sweet drinks celebrate the best of the season, and the best of celebration—they can be festive, fruit-forward, and easy-flowing. Here’s our guide to our favorite sweet cocktails, complete with easy-to-follow recipes and tips on making them your own.
When cane sugar is one of the fundamental three ingredients of your cocktail, you know that you’re in for a sweet treat. Add rum, which is usually distilled from molasses—a byproduct of sugar cane juice—and you’ve doubled the fun.1
The Mojito was first noted in print in the 1930s, but likely as a riff on the “Draque,” which is an old Cuban mix of aguardiente (a predecessor to rum made from cane sugar), sugar, and lime. Since then, the Mojito’s popularity has endured throughout the years, even surging at times thanks to the drink’s sure-footing as a staple in Miami’s Cuban-diaspora inflected nightlife.
It’s easy to see why. The Mojito is also highly refreshing and, thanks to the cooling notes of fresh mint, it makes the perfect beverage for a sweltering summer day that’s turned into a sweltering summer night.
How to Make a Mojito
To make a Mojito at home, you’ll need a Collins glass, a muddler, and the following ingredients:
- Two teaspoons sugar
- Three sprigs mint or mint leaves
- One lime, cut into quarters
- Two ounces light rum
- Soda water
Begin by adding the sugar and two of the mint sprigs to the Collins glass. Using the muddler, apply pressure to the mint so that it releases its oils (when you get a whiff of that mentholated goodness, you’ll know you’re on the right track).
Add the lime pieces to the glass and continue applying pressure with the muddler to release the lime juice.
Pour in the rum and add ice, and then top with soda water. Garnish with the remaining mint sprig or lime wedge on the rim of the glass.
Finally: enjoy the fruits of your labor. Take a big, refreshing sip to reward yourself for all of that intensive muddling. Think of this drink as an alternative to a pina colada.
Variations on the Mojito
Mojitos, in their simplicity, lend themselves beautifully to riffing. Mint and sugar mingle well with lots of fruits and flavors, and if you’re not keen on rum, other spirits.
That said, in the name of balance, we recommend you keep your list of add-ons short and (not too) sweet and try to honor the time-tested interplay of citrus, mint, and sugar.
Ready to remix the Cuban classic? try these variations:
- Caipirinha – Calling for cane sugar, mint, and lime, this Brazilian classic has a lot in common with its Cuban counterpart. It’s sweet, sour, herbaceous, a quenching cocktail for tropical heat. Unlike the Mojito, however, the Caipirinhia uses cachaça, Brazil’s national spirit, in place of rum and goes without the soda water topper.
Cachaça, like rum, is derived from sugar cane and bears a natural sweetness that melds well with lime and mint. But while most rums take on round, caramel notes from their molasses base, cachaça comes from fermented sugar cane juice.2 What results is a grassy, vegetal spirit that adds undeniable funk to the sweet cocktail.
- Frozen Mojito – We know that hot weather calls for Mojitos. And we know that hot weather also calls for frozen drinks. Are you thinking what we’re thinking? Combine the refreshing flavors of the Mojito with the cooling qualities of a frozen cocktail. All you need to do is pull out your blender, and mix up your rum, lime juice, mint, and sugar with ice.
- Strawberry Mojito – Berries and mint go together like Oreos and peanut butter, pizza and ranch, and Travis Barker and Kourtney Kardashian. In other words: it might be an unexpected pairing, but an instant classic nonetheless. If you’re mixing up a Mojito at home, just toss in a few quartered, stemmed strawberries with your lime, muddle, and enjoy.
Or take it to the next level. Try our Strawberry Mojito—expertly crafted by renowned mixologist Brian Klemm to add sweet complexity to the refreshing classic. With strawberry-vanilla syrup and mint-infused water, this fruity drink merges the essence of endless summer and the sweetness of spring. The best part? It’s bottled. (You can put down the muddler.)
The Bramble. Here to remind us that just because a cocktail is sweet doesn’t mean it isn’t strong, spirited, and worthy of respect.
This gorgeous, berry-hued tipple has the feel of a classic, but it’s a baby of the 1980s—born from Dick Bradsell, the same legendary London-based mixologist that first crafted the Espresso Martini.3
Inspired by the blackberry brambles of his childhood, Bradsell created the sweet concoction to use up a bottle of Crème de Mûre (blackberry liquor) behind his bar, necessity being the mother of invention and all.3 The rest, as they say, was history. Bright, sweet, boozy history.
How to Make a Bramble
To build your Bramble, gather your cocktail shaker, an Old-Fashioned glass, and a bag of crushed ice. You will also need the following ingredients:
- Two ounces gin
- One ounce lemon juice (freshly squeezed)
- 3/4 ounce simple syrup
- 1/2 ounce Crème de Mûre
- Lemon wheel to garnish
- Blackberries to garnish
Begin by adding the gin, lemon juice (or orange juice if you don't have any lemon), and simple syrup to the cocktail shaker. Add ice, and shake until it’s chilled (or your hands get cold).
Fill your Old-Fashioned glass with crushed ice, and strain the contents of the shaker over the glass.
Drizzle the Crème de Mûre over your drink and garnish with the lemon wheel and blackberries.
Variations on the Bramble
Looking to add some panache to your purple drink repertoire? Try these fresh takes on the modern classic:
- Fresh Bramble – Craving sweet but shy on sugar? Forego the Crème de Mûre entirely and finesse your Bramble with the addition of more blackberries. You’ll need to engage in some muddling action to break down the berries at the bottom of your glass, but the hard work pays off thanks to the fresh subtlety of the fruit. Plus, more elbow grease means more guilt-free sips.
- Bourbon Berry Smash – Berry into the idea of a fruit-forward cocktail, but gin not your thing? Take heart. Lemon juice, blackberries, and simple syrup lend themselves effortlessly to a range of different spirits. Our pick? High-rye bourbon, with a warm, peppery finish that compliments blackberries’ trademark mix of sweet and sour.
Mix your own at home, or better yet—have one come to you. Our Bourbon Berry Smash has all of the tart and tangy sweetness that you’re looking for in a Bramble and none of the fuss. All you have to do is pour it over ice.
The White Russian
If you’re still chasing that first mocha milkshake sugar high, the White Russian might be your drink of choice as an adult.
One of the sweetest cocktails, the White Russian manages, through some miracle, to feel balanced. Decadent, but also minimalist. Certainly creamy, but also refreshing. Arguably childlike, but a little bit cheeky.
Created in the 1960s but propelled to cult-like status by 1998’s The Big Lebowski4, the White Russian has tenuous claims to its eponymous country of origin besides its base spirit: vodka. With just two other ingredients—Kahlúa (coffee liqueur) and cream—it makes an easy, playful late-night treat.
How to Make a White Russian
In the time it takes to pull down the blender from the cabinet and dig out the ice cream from the freezer, you can make this tempting tipple.
To make a White Russian, just grab a rocks glass filled with ice and:
- 2 ounces vodka
- 1 ounce Kahlúa
- A splash (or two) of heavy cream
Simply add the vodka and Kahlúa to the glass and top with heavy cream.
Variations on the White Russian
- Vegan White Russian – Plant-base your potion by substituting your favorite non-dairy milk for the heavy cream. Just remember: we’re after an indulgent, luscious cocktail. Opt for full-fat versions of your go-to nut, oat, and coconut milk to mimic the creaminess of the original.
- Mudslide – White Russian, but make it Irish. Add an ounce of Bailey’s Irish Cream to your cocktail and live your dessert drink dreams. To really get in the Mudslide mood, top your creation with a garnish of chocolate shavings. It’s a special occasion, an international vacation, and a natural disaster all in one.
Whether you are truly interested in mixology or simply want to try your hand at creating a fruity alcoholic drink, knowing how to mix drinks can come in handy. Besides, it would be cool to know you could craft your own signature cocktail recipe. Still, don't underestimate the art of cocktail making. Just because it isn't cooking doesn't mean you can just mix drinks willy-nilly. To get started on mixology, remember the following:
Stock up on ingredients you may or may not need. - Aside from stocking different types of alcohol (e.g. peach schnapps, triple sec, tequila, etc.), you should also stock juices, such as lime juice, lemon juice, pineapple juice, cranberry juice. It also helps to stock up on other drinks and ingredients that compliment alcohol, like apple cider, club soda, ginger beer, whipped cream, mint leaves, angostura bitters, grenadine, and many others. While it's important to master a single cocktail recipe first, you never know when inspiration would hit and you decide to get creative. When that happens, at least you have a bevy of ingredients to choose from.
Prepare the equipment. - Bars serve drinks in different types of glasses, so research which drink is better served in a big glass or shot glass. Most importantly, make sure you have the tools you need to mix the drinks, such as cocktail shaker with measuring guide, measuring cup jigger, blender, stirring rod, knife, and chopping board (Note: The last two tools are for chopping assorted fruits and other solid ingredients). Familiarize yourself with these tools so when time comes you need to concoct a strawberry daiquiri, you know which tools to use.
Practice mixing. - Start with easy recipes then work your way to harder ones. Going through the motion of measuring and mixing helps you get better at making cocktails.
All in all, cocktail making isn't a bad hobby to pick up.
Sweeten Up Your Bar with DRNXMYTH
If bitter cocktails put hair on your chest, sweet alcoholic drinks take that hair, put it into curlers, and then brush it out into soft, supple waves. Read: they’ll still pack a punch, but the punch might be disguised as a kiss on the cheek.
While overly sweet cocktails have earned a bad rap through the years (thanks to the ascendency of over processed ingredients), we think sweet drinks should be celebrated—especially when they’re crafted from cold-pressed fruit juices and high-quality spirits, like those in ourvbottled cocktails.
So whether you’re all about fresh fruit, a citrus squeeze, or a mocha moment, drink what makes you happy. And if you’re still too nervous about coming clean about your sweet tooth to your neighborhood barkeep, we’ll bring the bar to you.
- Difford’s Guide. Rum - How is rum made? https://www.diffordsguide.com/encyclopedia/337/bws/rum-how-is-rum-made
- Liquor.com. Caipirinha. https://www.liquor.com/recipes/caipirinha/
- Liquor.com. The Bramble. https://www.liquor.com/recipes/bramble/
- Liquor.com. White Russian. https://www.liquor.com/recipes/white-russian/
- Punch. Mojito. https://punchdrink.com/recipes/mojito/