It’s no surprise that the origin of the cocktail is muddled. Some say the first was a medicinal rum drink made by British explorer Francis Drake in the 1500s while others point to the Sazerac, which was created by a New Orleans merchant in 1850. Regardless of which was the official first, cocktails have evolved to include a menu of spirited drinks ranging from boozy Manhattans to fruity daiquiris. Cocktail culture has expanded, too: these days bartenders are as creative as chefs, showing the same dedication to using quality ingredients and pushing flavor boundaries. Spirits are the base of cocktails though many, like small-batch bourbons or bitter Italian amaros, are just as delicious when sipped on their own. Gin, tequila, Scotch whiskey—pick your poison: our F&W guide to cocktails and spirits has you covered with recipes for cocktails listed by spirit, season and ingredient, plus how-to tips for mi the best drinks and editor’s picks for where to drink next.