The list of classic bestselling cocktails changes from year to year: the tastes of the distinguished public, fashion, and Instagrammability – a variety of factors influence popularity. It would seem that there are not so many mixes that are equally sold in Los Angeles, Barcelona, and Paris, but no – there are as many as 50 of them in the international rankings that are compiled on a regular basis. Of course, classics are a relative term, but real hits need no introduction. So, bartenders from 130 of the world’s top bars have given their verdict, and Mandry solemnly prepared glasses for the 15 best drinks.
Old Fashion Rum
This version of the Old Fashioned has no place for rye whiskey or bourbon – the recipe is entirely dominated by rum. The mix briefly dropped out of the rankings, but today 14% of bartenders have put it back in their personal top 10 best-selling cocktails. Mix 2 parts of aged rum with a couple of drops of Angostura bitters from Venezuela, add a little water, 1-2 teaspoons of sugar and ice, garnish with orange peel and enjoy the result.
No, it has nothing to do with antibiotics: this is a non-trivial mixture of whiskey, honey syrup, lemon and ginger juices invented in 2005 by Sam Ross from New York. It takes a lot of work to prepare: boil honey and water, grate the peeled ginger root and squeeze it through cheesecloth, filter the lemon juice, and mix the ingredients in the right order. The resulting drink is sold out with a bang in 18% of the establishments in the rating, and bartenders are experimenting with rum, tequila, and gin, but the original recipe remains unrivaled.
“The Penicillin” is the world’s first cocktail with the addition of single malt whiskey. An important nuance: the flavor should be distinctly smoky.
The duo of tomato juice and vodka was created right between the world wars as an effective hangover cure, but this is not certain. But it is clearly named in honor of the cruel Queen Mary Tudor: the bright red hue is exactly the blood of the Anglicans she killed. The classic version with salt, lemon juice, and ground pepper is popular in 19% of bars, but variations with Worcestershire sauce or tabasco are also acceptable.
If you replace the usual tomato juice with Clamato imported from Mexico with mussel broth, you get Bloody Caesar, popular in Canada.
20% of the bartenders voted for the legendary long drink made of light rum and mint, a favorite of Ernest Hemingway. The strength of the alcohol is softened by citrus and herbs, and the sparkling cocktail is refreshing in any heat. Francis Drake’s pirates used to indulge in something similar, but nowadays in Havana they mix 2 teaspoons of sugar with the juice of half a lime and 2 parts of soda, add a couple of sprigs of mint and 1 part of Cuban rum. The final touch is 4 ice cubes, mixed but not shaken.
“Sazerac” is a greeting from New Orleans, which lost 3 positions in last year’s ranking, but triumphantly returned with 27% of the vote. The cognac drink, mixed by the build method directly in a glass without a shaker, was invented in the 19th century by pharmacist Antoine Péchot. However, at first he released the bitters under his own name, and the people of Louisiana began to add it to the Sazerac brand cognac, which later disappeared from the market and gave the name to the newfangled cocktail.
For greater effect, absinthe is added to the composition, and sometimes cognac is replaced with bourbon or rye whiskey.
A mix of vodka, lime, and ginger ale packaged in a mandatory copper mug, once ranked 2nd in the rating, has lost some ground but hasn’t lost its momentum. No wonder it’s also called “stubborn”: Americans have been promoting the killer cocktail since the 1940s under the slogan “it will knock the wind out of you.” A kind of Trojan horse from Russia, firmly embedded in the US drinking culture.
If you replace vodka with whiskey, as they do in Kentucky, the taste will become sweeter and the flavor more woody.
30% of the bartenders’ votes confirm that Aperol Spritz has once again won the hearts of the public, just like in the 1950s. The light orange-red aperitif was invented by the Barbieri brothers from Padua, with only 11% alcohol, a mild, refreshing taste with a pleasant citrus bitterness. The original composition is kept in the strictest confidence, but you can definitely guess prosecco, bitter, soda, oranges, rhubarb, gentian, honeydew fruit and a whole bunch of herbs from the slopes of Piedmont.
In the Veneto region alone, more than 300,000 glasses of Aperol are consumed daily.
The best tequila-based mix in the ranking and a worthy competitor to the pizza of the same name in terms of popularity. It is most likely named after Margarita Simes, who mixed tequila, Cointreau orange liqueur, lime juice, and ice at a social gathering in Acapulco in 1948 and thus won over Tommy Hilton, the owner of the famous hotel chain. If you’re tired of the classic, we recommend infusing tequila with mozzarella (yes, yes!) and mixing it with cherry tomatoes, basil, lime, celery, agave nectar, and bitter orange, following the example of creative bartenders from Edinburgh.
The alcoholic energy drink, invented in London in the 1980s, is readily sold out in 32% of the bars in the rating. Surprisingly, there is no martini in the recipe, but cold espresso is indeed present, along with vodka, coffee liqueur, and sugar syrup.
The reference to vermouth in the name is explained by the shape of the glass: mixed in a shaker, shaken, strained, and filtered, the cocktail is poured into the same V-shaped glasses.
This is where the martini is really present, and 35% of bartenders included its classic gin mixture in the top 10. The cocktail’s homeland is not known for certain, but the most plausible version is San Francisco. Initially, it was served with sugar syrup, but soon a drier, more refined taste was preferred: martinis were imported from France rather than Italy and added to gin in minimal quantities.
In the early 20th century, it was a joke that a bartender would only need to look at the vermouth when pouring gin – the proportion would be the same.
40% of respondents included a cocktail created on the New York island of the same name in the 1860s and 1870s in their top ten hits. Some even claim that it was invented by Winston Churchill’s mother in honor of the victory of the Bourbon Democrats in the Big Apple mayoral election. But if bourbon can be substituted for rye whiskey, then red sweet vermouth, Angostura bitters, and cherries are required.
The best-selling rum cocktail, favored by 48% of bartenders. Only 3 ingredients – lime juice, light rum and sugar – and what a success! The author of the idea is Constantino Rubalcaba Vert, who worked in the early 19th century in the Havana bar El Floridita, which is known today far beyond Cuba. It was there that Hemingway often visited: a mixture without sugar, but with lime, grapefruit, and Maraschino liqueur was prepared for his dear guest who suffered from diabetes.
Exactly half of the bars named Wisconsin’s Whiskey Sauer as one of the undisputed leaders of the rating. The main ingredient is easy to guess, but the rest is more interesting: traditional bourbon is supplemented with lemon juice, sugar, and egg white. All this splendor is decorated with a slice of citrus or a maraschino cherry, served in an old-fashioned glass with ice.
The cocktail recipe was first mentioned in the book “How to Mix Drinks, or The Bon Vivant’s Companion” written by bar industry pioneer Jerry Thomas.
It all started when Count and part-time general Pascal-Olivier de Negroni, originally from Corsica, came to a restaurant in Florence and asked the bartender to make the Americano cocktail stronger. Soda was replaced with gin, a lemon slice with an orange slice, vermouth and Campari bitters were added, and it was off and running. The enterprising general even founded a company to produce the drink, and a century later, we offer a new version: an ounce of Bombay Sapphire gin, ¾ ounce of Campari, the same amount of Martini Rossi – and the Negroni Dante is ready.
The cocktail that closed our top 15 is the same as the one that crowns it, but not with rum, but with good old American whiskey. For the 5th year in a row, the classic Old Fashioned has held the top spot in the ranking, with 30% of bartenders confidently naming it the first most popular. Even the term “cocktail” originally meant exactly that – a mixture of alcohol (bourbon, rye whiskey or scotch), bitters, sugar, and water. So let’s raise the old-fashioned glasses! And there will be a reason.
We advise you to check it out: Wines of Georgia: a guide for the gourmet tourist