Stylish mixed drinks can be hard to come by for millennials who gulp when paying the $15-$20 cocktail prices at fancy restaurants and hotel bars. But how about throwing an old-school cocktail party at home? We mixed up some easy, affordable and  eye-catching cocktails and beverages that can be made at the kitchen counter and served up with a side of elegance. This time, ditch the red plastic cups and go for glassware that sparkles and shows off the variety in these delightful concoctions.

1. Magic Margaritas

This Magic Margarita uses a classic recipe, but adds a couple twists to make it fun and aesthetically pleasing. The trick to Magic Margaritas is to use colored sanding sugar to rim the margarita glasses and food coloring to dye the cocktails. This recipe uses blue food coloring and black sanding sugar, but any colors can be used.

“When I first saw these margaritas, I thought they were professionally made,” 28-year-old Tiffany McCurry said. “They’re definitely something I’d make for a party or gathering.”

Margaritas on average cost $8.00 at bars and restaurants. By making margaritas at home, that price can be cut down by over 60 percent.

Yields: 2
Price per drink: $2.81
Prep time: 5 minutes
Total time: 5 minutes


  • Black sanding sugar ⅓ cup
  • Ice 2 cups
  • Tequila 4 ounces
  • Triple Sec 2 ounces
  • Lime juice ½ cup
  • Blue food coloring
  • Lime slices for garnish
  • Two margarita glasses


  1. Rim two margarita glasses with a lime slice then dip them in the black sanding sugar.
  2. Divide the tequila, triple sec, and lime juice between the two glasses and stir to combine.
  3. Add the blue food coloring until the desired blue color is reached.
  4. Add a cup of ice to each glass. Garnish the glasses with a slice of lime.

2. Glow Stick Gin and Tonic

Glow Stick Gin and Tonics add two extra ingredients to a traditional recipe, which makes them taste a little different and will drastically change the appearance of them as well. Grenadine is the additional ingredient in this recipe. Not only does it alter the taste of the cocktail, but gives it a pink coloring.

The glow sticks are the ingredients that give the gin and tonics the “optical illusion” look. They’re safe to put in a drink as long as they’re not broken. Even if a glow stick breaks, ingesting the liquid from it “can be irritating, but usually is not,” according to National Capital Poison Center.

“These gin and tonics look like an optical illusion,” 23-year-old Erica Ray said. “I feel like these are something I’d see and think I could never make, but they actually seem pretty easy to make.”

The average price to order a gin and tonic is $6.00, but, when made at home, the cost can go down to $1.31.

Yields: 2
Price per drink: $1.31
Prep time: 5 minutes
Total time: 5 minutes


  • Gin 6 ounces
  • Lemon juice 1 ounce
  • Grenadine 2 teaspoons
  • Ice 2 handfuls
  • Tonic water 1 ounce
  • Glow sticks
  • Two large glasses


  1. Mix gin, lemon juice, and grenadine in a cocktail shaker.
  2. Fill two large glasses with a handful of ice each. Pour the gin mixture into the glasses.
  3. Top with tonic water and garnish with a glow stick.

3. Jolly Rancher Shots

Jolly Rancher shots are a fruity alternative to a plain shot of vodka. They only require two more ingredients, Jolly Ranchers and seltzer water or lemon-lime soda. Although they take longer to make, because the Jolly Ranchers have to dissolve overnight in the vodka, this recipe is very simple and has a short prep time.

“They’re so colorful and fun,” Ray said. “These are rich people party shots.”

The price of a shot of vodka ranges from $2.00 to $5.00. Jolly Rancher shots cost $0.63 to make per shot, which saves at least $1.00.

Yields: 25
Price per shot: $0.63
Prep time: 10 minutes
Total time: 8 hours 10 minutes


  • Jolly Ranchers 1 bag
  • Vodka 1 bottle
  • Seltzer water or lemon-lime soda 2 cups
  • Shot glasses 25


  1. Divide the Jolly Ranchers by flavor. Unwrap 10 of each flavor.
  2. Place each flavor into a large glass and divide the vodka among the five glasses. Cover each glass with plastic wrap and place in the fridge.
  3. Let the Jolly Ranchers and vodka mixtures sit in the fridge overnight (about eight hours) to allow the Jolly Ranchers to dissolve.
  4. Pour the Jolly Rancher vodka into 25 shot glasses, filling each halfway. Top the shot glasses with seltzer water or lemon-lime soda.

4. Hot Chocolate del Diablo

Hot Chocolate del Diablo is a very easy-to-make cocoa at home. This recipe can easily be customized by substituting Bailey’s Espresso Crème with any desired flavor of Bailey’s. Patrón XO Café Incendio can also be substituted for Bailey’s to really give the hot chocolate a sense of “del Diablo” with a spicy kick.

“These look fancy and delicious,” McCurry said. “If I ever went to or had an elegant dinner party, I would make these.”

Alcoholic hot chocolate costs on average $7.00. Over $4.00 can be saved by making this hot chocolate at home.

Yields: 2
Price per drink: $2.33
Prep time: 10 minutes
Total time: 10 minutes


  • Milk 1 ¾ cups
  • Bailey’s Espresso Crème 3 ounces
  • Semisweet chocolate chips 3 ounces
  • Cocoa powder 1 tablespoon
  • Brown sugar 1 tablespoon
  • Vanilla extract ½ teaspoon
  • Ground cinnamon ¼ teaspoon
  • Whipped cream (optional)
  • Two large glasses


  1. In a small saucepan combine milk, Baileys, chocolate, brown sugar, and cocoa powder over low heat.
  2. Whisk slowly until the liquid begins to steam.
  3. Remove from heat and stir in vanilla extract and ground cinnamon. Pour into two glasses. Add whipped cream if desired.

5. Glowing Jell-O Shots

Glowing Jell-O shots use tonic water in place of regular water to give off a “glowing” and bright look. The recipe still calls for one cup of water, but this can be substituted for tonic water to give the Jell-O shots even more of a glowing feeling. Any two flavors of Jell-O can be used, but for best results, choose two flavors with colors that go well together.

“I love that they’re layered Jell-O shots,” Ray said. “You don’t see that very often. They’re so illuminating!”

These Jell-O shots are very cheap and relatively easy to make, with a single shot costing $0.67. Although they take over 6 hours to make, the Jell-O is chilling the majority of that time with only 10 minutes of actual prep time.

Yields: 20
Price per shot: $0.67
Prep time: 10 minutes
Total time: 6 hours 10 minutes


  • Tonic water 2 cups
  • Jell-O 2 flavors (blue raspberry and orange were used)
  • Water 1 cup
  • Vodka 1 cup
  • Shot glasses/cups 20


  1. Make the first layer: Pour one cup of tonic water into a pot over high heat. Once it comes to a boil, add the blue raspberry Jell-O.
  2. Whisk until the Jell-O has dissolved, then pour in half a cup of water and half a cup of vodka. Stir to combine.
  3. Pour the blue raspberry Jell-O into shot glasses, filling them halfway. Place in the refrigerator to chill for two to three hours.
  4. Make the second layer: Repeat steps one and two with the orange Jell-O while the blue raspberry Jell-O sits in the fridge.
  5. After the orange Jell-O is made, let it cool in the pot while the blue raspberry Jell-O finishes chilling in the fridge.
  6. Once the blue raspberry Jell-O has chilled, top each one with the orange Jell-O. Return the shots to the fridge to set for another two to three hours.

Add a glow stick to gin and tonic to give it a unique look. Glow sticks are safe to put in drinks as long as they are not broken or cracked.

Jolly Rancher shots are not only a colorful way to serve shots, but makes the vodka taste like the candy. Each shot only costs $0.63 to make.

Hot Chocolate del Diablo uses Bailey’s Espresso Creme to flavor it, but any flavor of Bailey’s can be used to customize hot chocolate.

Use tonic water in place of regular water when making Jell-O shots to give them the apperance that they’re glowing.