While the world of cocktails may seem to be constantly evolving, year after year it’s the classic recipes that customers continue to demand.
In its January issue, Drinks International released its list of the world’s best-selling classic cocktails in 2019 – and it shows that while bartenders may put a modern spin on old recipes, the desire for established, sophisticated drinks remains.
The website asked bartenders from 127 of the best bars in 38 countries around the world – all of which have won or been nominated for global awards over the past year – to rank their 10 best-selling cocktails.
It then weighted and ranked each drink to compile the list.
From Moscow mules to mai tais, scroll down to see the 50 best-selling cocktails in the world, ranked in ascending order, and to see how many you’ve tried.
50. White Russian
Made popular in the ’90s by “The Big Lebowski,” this vodka, cream, and coffee-liqueur cocktail may not be as trendy as it once was, but it still made its way into the top 50.
Invented by Giuseppe Cipriani, the founder of Harry’s Bar in Venice, the Bellini may not be considered to be a cocktail by some, with only two ingredients – prosecco and peach purée or nectar.
48. Champagne Cocktail
Made with sugar, Angostura bitters, Champagne, brandy, and a maraschino cherry as a garnish, the Champagne Cocktail seems a little outdated next to some of its more modern contenders.
47. Irish Coffee
The Irish Coffee at the Dead Rabbit in New York City (pictured above), named the world’s best bar in 2016, calls for one and a half parts Irish whiskey, 3/4 parts demerara syrup, four parts hot brewed coffee, and heavy cream, lightly whipped.
The resurgence of sherry caused this drink, made with one and a half parts sherry, one and a half parts dry vermouth, two dashes of Angostura bitters, and two dashes of orange bitters, to make an appearance on the list this year.
45. Gin Gin Mule
Like a Moscow Mule but made with gin, the cocktail was created in 2000. It calls for simple syrup, fresh lime juice, a mint sprig, gin, and ginger beer.
44. Long Island Iced Tea
Up five places on the list since 2017, this is the drink that refuses to die, made with vodka, tequila, light rum, triple sec, gin, and a splash of cola.
Up 10 places this year, this vodka and gin martini is named after the character of Vesper Lynd from James Bond novel “Casino Royale” – and was created by author Ian Fleming. In the book, he calls for: “Three measures of Gordon’s; one of vodka; half a measure of Kina Lillet. Shake it over ice, and add a thin slice of lemon peel. Got it?”
The national cocktail of Brazil is up two places, likely thanks to the high availability of the country’s distilled alcohol, cachaça, in recent years. The drink is made with cachaça, sugar, and lime.
41. Tom Collins
Down 16 places, the Tom Collins, made with gin, lemon juice, sugar, and carbonated water, may be losing its popularity.
This cocktail is trademarked by Pusser’s rum brand, and is one of the most popular cocktails of the British Virgin Islands. It’s made with pineapple juice, orange juice, Cream of Coconut, and Pusser’s Rum, of course.
39. Bee’s Knees
Made with gin, lemon juice, and honey, this sounds like a bad cold’s best friend.
38. Ramos Gin Fizz
Originally called the New Orleans Gin Fizz, this drink – which has nine ingredients (gin, lemon juice, lime juice, sugar syrup, orange flower water, vanilla extract, egg white, double cream, and sparkling water) and has to be shaken for 12 whole minutes – eventually took the name of its creator Henry C Ramos.
Down four places this year, the Bramble was created in the ’80s. It’s made with dry gin, lemon juice, sugar syrup, crème de mûre, and crushed ice, then topped with fresh red fruit and a slice of lemon.
36. Vodka Martini
Down 15 places, Bond’s favourite drink is made by combining vodka, dry vermouth, and ice in a cocktail shaker or mixing glass.
35. Hanky Panky
Up 11 places this year, this 1920s favourite is made with whiskey, Fernet-Branca, simple syrup, fresh lime juice, and mint leaves.
34. Jungle Bird
Up 10 places since 2017, this tiki-style drink calls for rum, Campari, lime juice, simple syrup and pineapple juice. It’s usually served in a glass, but some bartenders get more creative.
33. White Lady
Around since the 1920s, the recipe now calls for a dash of egg whites, along with its traditional gin, triple sec, and lemon juice.
Mix tequila with a grapefruit-flavored soda (think Fresca) and serve it on the rocks with a lime wedge (or another citrus wedge) and you have a Paloma.
The “Sex and the City” favourite fell five places this year, but is sure to remain a longtime favourite, made with vodka, triple sec, cranberry juice, and freshly squeezed or sweetened lime juice.
This “simple serve” sour cocktail features cognac, Cointreau, and lemon juice, and is down six places on last year.
29. French 75
Up one place this year, this classic was made popular in The Savoy Cocktail Book. Similar to a Tom Collins, just swap the soda for Champagne.
28. Vieux Carré
Down 11 places since last year, this New Orleans favourite was created in 1938 by Walter Bergeron, head bartender at Carousel bar. It calls for whiskey, cognac, sweet vermouth, Bénédictine, Peychaud’s Bitters, and Angostura bitters.
This classic cocktail is best made with gin, maraschino liqueur, crème de violette, and lemon juice.
26. Piña Colada
It’s not just holidaymakers keeping the Piña Colada on trend – while it’s traditionally made with rum, coconut cream or coconut milk, and pineapple juice, served either blended or shaken with ice and garnished with either a pineapple wedge, maraschino cherry, or both, some bartenders are now adding Champagne.
25. Amaretto Sour
Ten per cent of bars put the Amaretto Sour in their top 10, and two bars even said it was their No. 1 serve. It’s made with amaretto, lemon juice, and egg whites, garnished with cherries.
24. Pisco Sour
This 1920s Peruvian favourite, made with three parts pisco, one part simple syrup, one part lime juice, egg whites, and a dash of Angostura bitters, is down five places this year.
Originally known as the Milano-Torino, this Italian cocktail is up a whopping 15 places this year. It’s made with Campari, vermouth, and soda water – and was even ordered by Bond in “Casino Royale.”
Once reportedly drunk by sailors to prevent scurvy, the gimlet is now more glamorous, and is up eight places this year. It’s made with two parts gin, one part lime juice, and half sweetener.
21. Mai Tai
Ideal for a beach holiday, this drink involves rum, Curaçao liqueur, orgeat syrup, and lime juice.
Called “Negroni’s American cousin” by Drinks International, the Boulevardier, created in the 1920s, is made with bourbon or rye, Campari, sweet vermouth, and garnished with an orange peel or cherry.
19. Clover Club
After climbing 23 places, the Clover Club cocktail – made with gin, lemon juice, raspberry syrup, and an egg white – is back on the world’s drinks radar.
18. Gin Fizz
Not to be confused with the Ramos Gin Fizz, this is the original, which simply calls for gin, lemon juice, and sugar, topped with carbonated water for the “fizz.”
17. Dark ‘N’ Stormy
Up three places from last year, this cocktail may be simple with two ingredients (dark rum and ginger beer), but it must be made with Black Seal rum by Gosling’s.
16. Corpse Reviver
The original recipe uses cognac, calvados, brandy, and vermouth, but the second variation is just as popular, made with gin, lemon juice, Cointreau, Lillet Blanc, and a dash of absinthe.
15. Rum Old Fashioned
A reentry to the list this year, 14% of bartenders said the rum version of the Old Fashioned was in their top 10 most ordered drinks. It’s made with two parts aged rum, two dashes Angostura bitters, one splash of water, one or two teaspoons of sugar, ice, and garnished with an orange peel.
Popular with 18% of bartenders around the world, the Penicillin is made with Scotch whisky, fresh lemon juice, honey syrup, fresh ginger, and single-malt Scotch.
13. Bloody Mary
Known as a best friend of brunch (and perhaps a bit of a hangover cure), the classic take involves vodka, tomato juice, and spices and flavourings including Worcestershire sauce, hot sauces, garlic, herbs, horseradish, celery, olives, salt, black pepper, lemon juice, lime juice and/or celery salt.
Though it’s still in the top 10% at 20% of bars, the Mojito – made with white rum, sugar, lime juice, soda water, and mint – is down two places this year.
This New Orleans classic cocktail was in the top 10 most popular drinks at 27% of bars this year. It’s made with 1/4 oz. absinthe, a sugar cube, 1 1/2 oz. rye whiskey or cognac, and three dashes of Peychaud’s Bitters.
10. Moscow Mule
A popular feature of bar carts everywhere thanks to its stylish copper mugs, the Moscow Mule is made with vodka, spicy ginger beer, and lime juice, garnished with a slice or wedge of lime and mint leaves.
9. Aperol Spritz
In the top 10 for the first time because of its popularity at 30% of the world’s bars, this light, pre-dinner drink is as popular now as it was in the ’50s. Simply add Aperol, prosecco, and a splash of soda to a glass with ice, and serve with a slice of orange.
As the most popular classic tequila cocktail on the list, chances are you’ve had at least one variation of the margarita, traditionally made with tequila, orange liqueur, and lime juice and served with salt on the rim of the glass.
7. Espresso Martini
Now a well-known cocktail among bargoers, this coffee-based drink (made with vodka, espresso, coffee liqueur, and sugar syrup) rose two places this year.
6. Dry Martini
It may be down two spots on January 2018, but it’s still in the top 10 at 35% of bars, and is sure to remain a classic for a while. It’s made with 1/2 oz (one part) dry vermouth and 3 oz. (six parts) gin.
Forty per cent of bartenders had the Manhattan, made with sweet red vermouth, rye or Canadian whisky, a dash of Angostura bitters, and garnished with a maraschino cherry.
The most popular rum cocktail on the list, the humble Daiquiri remains a favourite worldwide. While the simple, classic recipe calls for white rum, simple syrup, and lime juice, countless variations are created across the globe involving other juices and sweeteners.
3. Whiskey Sour
In third place on the list for the second year in a row, the whiskey sour is a consistent contender, and in the top 10 drinks at 50% of bars surveyed. It’s made with whiskey, lemon juice, sugar, and optionally, a dash of egg white.
In second place for five years in a row, the Negroni isn’t going anywhere – and 19% of bars say it’s their No. 1 most served drink. The apéritif is made with one part gin, one part vermouth rosso, and one part Campari, garnished with an orange peel.
1. Old Fashioned
The Old Fashioned remains champion for the fifth year in a row as the most popular cocktail in the world. This American classic is made by muddling a sugar cube with Angostura bitters, then adding bourbon or rye, a few dashes of water, and finished with a citrus rind.
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