Have you ever wondered what the best selling classic cocktail in the world is? Well, if you were thinking that it might just be an Old Fashioned, well, … you’d be right.
And how do we know? Well every year, the trade publication for the alcohol industry, Drinks International, gathers data from the top bars around the world. These classic, age-old recipes fall in and out of favour, but it’s interesting to see which of these classic libations are in fashion and which ones have fallen out of vogue.
This ever-shifting who’s who of cocktails, not only denotes cocktail ‘trends’ but also tells us a little about ourselves and the times we live in. While bartenders may put a modern spin on old recipes, the desire for established, sophisticated drinks remains.
Asked to list their top 10 best-selling cocktails, the list was assembled from 108 bars world-wide that finished in the top 250 places of the World’s 50 Best Bars. Each vote was then given an incremental ranking from one to 10, the data from this created the World’s 50 Best Selling Classics list.
From an Aperol Spritz to a Penicillin, scroll down the list and see how many of these drinks you’ve made in your home bar … and maybe set a goal to make the rest.
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’s managed to just slip into the top 50.
Invented by Giuseppe Cipriani, the founder of Harry’s Bar in Venice, the Bellini is the simplest of drinks with only two ingredients – Prosecco and Peach Purée (or Nectar).
48. Champagne Cocktail
Made with Sugar, Angostura bitters, Champagne, Brandy & a Maraschino Cherry as a garnish, the Champagne Cocktail seems a little outdated next to some of its more modern contenders.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 calls for Irish Whiskey, Demerara Syrup, hot brewed Coffee, and heavy Cream, lightly whipped.
The resurgence of sherry caused this drink, made with Sherry, Dry Vermouth, Angostura Bitters, and 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 Gin, Ginger Beer, fresh Lime Juice, Simple Syrup & a Mint Sprig.
44. Long Island Iced Tea
Up five places on the list, this is the drink that refuses to die, made with Vodka, Tequila, Light Rum, Triple Sec, Gin, and a splash of Cola.
Ian Fleming has a lot to answer for – this vodka and gin martini is named after the character of Vesper Lynd from James Bond novel “Casino Royale”
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 & Soda 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
A Prohibition classic, this drink is 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 has nine ingredients Gin, Lemon Juice, Lime Juice, Sugar Syrup, Orange Flower Water, Vanilla, Egg White, Double Cream, and Soda Water
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 & topped with 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
Edging its way forward a whole ten spots, this 1970s tropical drink has Rum, Campari, Lime and Pineapple Juice and Sugar.
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 fresh Lime Juice.
the Paloma, it is the second most popular tequila classic. Freshly squeezed grapefruit, lime juice and agave syrup, topped with grapefruit soda really makes the drink take flight.
29. French 75
While retaining some charm, the French ’75 is up one place this year. Similar to a Tom Collins, just swap the soda for Champagne.
28. Vieux Carré
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.
Although Creme de Violette provides this cocktail with its gorgeous lavender colour, it seems the Aviation has lost a little altitude in the list.
26. Piña Colada
If you like long walks in the rain then you’re probably keeping this Rum, Coconut Milk, and Pineapple Juice drink on trend.
25. Amaretto Sour
One of the original sweet and sour drinks, Amaretto Sour is made with Amaretto, Lemon Juice, and Egg Whites, garnished with Cherries.
24. Pisco Sour
This 1920s Peruvian favourite, made with Pisco, Simple Syrup, 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. With Campari, Vermouth, and Soda Water, it was even ordered by Bond in “Casino Royale.”
Thought by some as a Daiquiri for gin drinkers, the Gimlet is essentially “gin and juice” but a cocktail that transcends it’s Gin, Lime Juice & Sugar Syrup ingredients.
21. Mai Tai
As a bastion of tropical culture, the Mai Tai has been swept along by the tiki revival and come ashore in many of the world’s best bars.
Called “Negroni’s American cousin” by Drinks International, the Boulevardier, created in the 1920s, is made with Bourbon or Rye, Campari, Sweet Vermouth & an orange peel.
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 Soda 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 Goslings.
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
Taking on a life of its own, as well as a place on the list, the Rum Old Fashioned has Aged Rum, Angostura Bitters, Water, one or two Sugar & an Orange peel.
Courtesy of Sam Ross, this medicinal mix is made up of 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), this classic involves Vodka, Tomato Juice, and Spices and has done its best to make day drinking acceptable.
Although still popular, the Mojito – made with White Rum, Sugar, Lime Juice, Soda Water, and Mint – is down two places this year.
This New Orleans classic cocktail is made with Absinthe, a sugar cube, Rye Whiskey or Cognac, and three dashes of Peychaud’s Bitters.
10. Moscow Mule
Popular thanks to its stylish copper mug, the Moscow Mule is made with Vodka, spicy Ginger Beer, and Lime Juice & garnished with a Lime wedge and Mint leaves.
9. Aperol Spritz
In the top 10 for the first time 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.
As the most popular classic Tequila cocktail on the list, this classic is traditionally made with Tequila, Orange Liqueur, and Lime Juice and served with Salt on the rim of the glass.
7. Espresso Martini
Growing in popularity, 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 but the Dry Martini is sure to remain a classic for a while. It’s made with Gin and just a glance at some Dry Vermouth
Down one from last year, this classic embittered cocktail is always a true gentleman especially with a little spicy rye added to the mix of sweet vermouth and Angostura.
The most popular Rum cocktail on the list, the humble Daiquiri remains a favourite, with White Rum, Simple Syrup, and Lime Juice, this classic has spawned countless variations.
3. Whiskey Sour
In third place on the list for the second year in a row, the Whiskey Sour is a consistent contender, with its Whiskey, Lemon Juice, Sugar, and optionally, Egg White.
In second place for five years in a row, the Negroni isn’t going anywhere. This apéritif is made with Gin, Vermouth Rosso & Campari.
1. Old Fashioned
The Old Fashioned remains champion for the fifth year in a row as the most popular cocktail in the world. Made by muddling a Sugar Cube with Angostura bitters, then adding Bourbon or Rye, a few dashes of Water, and finished with an Orange rind.