Graduation is serious. While it's a celebration of the years of hard work that went into your degree, it's also a scary reminder that it's time to start actually adulting. Time for a job, more bills, and waking up super early in the morning (if you already do that, props to you).

It's also time to stop drinking shitty vodka (sorry, Peach Taaka, you'll always have a place in my heart — but not in my glass). It's time to start drinking craft, not crap, and it's time to start drinking cocktails, not just drinks. Yes, this'll be more expensive, but it'll be worth it once those hangovers start hitting you harder. 

Plus, Cardinal Spirits is making it a little easier for you to make this transition by labeling a limited-edition bottle just for you. 

The Class of 2017 Vodka

ice, vodka, beer, liquor, alcohol, wine
Brogan Dearinger

This is a limited-edition bottling of Cardinal Spirits' regular vodka. This vodka isn't typical, though. It's distilled from grapes, giving it a sweetness you won't find in other vodkas. It's so much smoother than what's usually passed around at parties. (Taaka, Smirnoff, and Svedka, I'm looking at you.) It's been ranked higher than Grey Goose, Ciroq, and Tito's by Wine Enthusiast. The best part? It's only $25 per bottle.  

But what do you do with the vodka once you get it? Pre-degree you might be inclined to take pulls or shots. But Emily Darnell, bartender at Cardinal Spirits, explained how to make three simple yet delicious cocktails that will get you buzzed without tasting like straight alcohol.  

Moscow Mule

cocktail, juice, beer, vodka, wine, ice, liquor, alcohol
Brogan Dearinger

If you haven't had a Moscow Mule before, you're missing out. It's refreshing — perfect for a summer day. And it's pretty simple to make. You'll just need three ingredients: vodka, lime juice, and ginger beer. Here's Cardinal Spirits' recipe.


1.5 ounces Cardinal Spirits Vodka

1/2 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice

Ginger beer, to taste

Lime wedge, for garnish

Add vodka and lime juice to a copper mug, then fill with ice. Fill with ginger beer and garnish with lime wedge. 

#SpoonTip: Invest in a jigger — a two-sided measuring cup with the right amounts for cocktails. It'll take your cocktails up a notch. But if you want to make these cocktails and don't have one, use a shot glass to estimate the measurements. 


wine, liquor, lemon, vodka, alcohol, juice, ice, cocktail
Brogan Dearinger

Yeah, this one's only two ingredients, and you've probably combined vodka with orange juice before. But if you work with freshly squeezed juice and good vodka and actually measure out how much you use, your vodka and OJ can be taken up a notch. Here's Cardinal Spirits' recipe:


1.5 ounces Cardinal Spirits Vodka

Orange juice

Orange wheel, for garnish

Add vodka to a Collins glass (or another tall glass), then fill with ice. Top with orange juice, then garnish with an orange wheel.

#SpoonTip: Freshly squeezed orange juice makes the best Screwdriver. If you can't make your own juice, try Simply Orange or freshly squeezed juice from the grocery store. 

White Russian

rum, cocktail, ice, wine, whisky, vodka, beer, liquor, alcohol
Brogan Dearinger

If you love coffee, this basic cocktail is for you. It's everything you love about a cup of iced coffee, but with booze. And it's only three ingredients. Here's Cardinal Spirits' recipe:


1.5 ounces Cardinal Spirits Vodka

1.5 ounces Cardinal Spirits Songbird Coffee Liqueur

1 ounce half & half

Add all ingredients to a cocktail shaker, then add ice to the shaker. Shake well, then strain into a rocks glass filled with ice.

#SpoonTip: If you don't have a shaker, you should invest in one. They're cheaper, and they mix in a way that stirring just can't. 

Good Luck Out There

vodka, beer, wine, alcohol, liquor
Brogan Dearinger

Congrats—you've made it. Go on out into the real world and kick some ass. Now that you're armed with a few easy, bougie cocktails, you can at least look like you've got it together. Time to kick back, relax and enjoy a cocktail.