The World's 50 Best Selling Classic Cocktails 2016

We asked 100 of the world's best bars to rank their top ten best-selling classics. Here are the results.


50: Scorpion

From Victor Bergeron of Trader Vic’s, this tiki meeting of rum and cognac, orange and lemon juice and orgeat syrup is best with crushed ice, an orange slice and mint garnish. To balance further with some bitterness, those in the know add orange bitters. This classic carries a potent sting – but you got that from the name.

 49: Papa Doble

The Papa Doble is otherwise known as the Hemmingway Daiquiri. We split this cocktail child from its Daiquiri parent because it took a rather rebellious path. First made for dear Ernest, he asked that the sugar be replaced by more booze, to bitter effect. Over the years, the Papa Doble developed at La Floridita, has taken on some sweetness in the form of Maraschino and some extra citrus in grapefruit.

48: Brooklyn

A less popular sibling of the Manhattan, the Brooklyn resurfaced a couple of decades ago. It requires dry, rather than sweet, vermouth, with the sugary dose coming from maraschino liqueur. Rye provides the pepper and Amer Picon the bitter. Though most don’t get that far through and just make a Manhattan.

47: Caipirinha 

By now Brazil’s national cocktail, like the football team, should be everyone’s second favourite drink. But the 2014 World Cup didn’t get punters in the spirit. Perhaps it’s a Mojito hangover. Whatever, Caipirinhas should be drunk as the Brazilians do – lots of cachaça. And some lime and sugar.

46: Champagne Cocktail 

For when it’s necessary to adulterate champagne, you have the Champagne Cocktail. That’s pretty much never, but bartenders like to put things with things, none more so than at the world’s best bars. To be broadly, though not wholly accurate, the French add cognac and the Americans, led by Jerry Thomas, don’t. Both daub a sugar cube with bitters before pouring over Champagne, though Jim Meehan of PDT recommends the sugar cube added second, so the champagne doesn’t get rowdy.

45: Brandy Julep

Brandy has a knack of being biffed in favour of whiskey, as the Sazerac is evidence. But back when Americans looked to Europeans for drinking council, Juleps were more sophisticated with brandy. Anyway, Americans knocked that idea on its head pretty sharpish and as of now only 6% of the world’s best bars make the Brandy Julep one of their top-10 classics. Meanwhile the whiskey iteration – from which with subtraction and addition you can work out the original recipe – is up at no.21.

44: Painkiller

This liquid aspirin is trademarked by Pusser’s rum and originates from the brilliantly named Soggy Dollar Bar on the British Virgin Islands, which seafarers would swim to for refreshment. The drink is coconut cream, pineapple and orange juice drink and the local rum Pusser’s. Soggy Dollar would ac- cept sodden money for its creation, but at World’s 50 Best Bars’ Smuggler’s Cover, at which the drink is a best selling classic, they do not. Although we haven’t asked.

43: White Lady

The White Lady’s clearly got around, as many claim her ownership, but her most famous suitor is the Savoy’s American Bar. Legendary barkeep Harry Craddock is said to have made it for F Scott Fitzgerald’s wife, Zelda. They still do good White Lady business at the American Bar, where they are made from Bombay Sapphire gin, dry orange liqueur, fresh lemon juice and a dash of egg white. The White Lady is sharp and white, just, they say, like Zelda’s hair.

 42: Cosmpoliton

Where are we with the Cosmo? Well, we can say it is fast sliding down Mount Popularity, and perhaps next year it will depart this list, just as Sex & the City has left our consciousness. Because there aren’t many places that make it, you may need the recipe: vodka, triple sec, cranberry juice and lime juice. Do with them what you will.

41 Blue Blazer

The Blue Blazer is Jerry Thomas’s joke from the grave. It is a dangerous cocktail – not to to drink but to make. Indeed, David Wondrich describes the Blue Blazer as the only drink he fears. The method requires a lot of fire prevention preparation so we won’t go into that, only to say it’s ignited scotch, sugar and lemon peel. Essentially the most menacing hot toddy your eyes ever met. Two of our 100 polled bars told us it was their number one classic, which they also should tell their insurance companies.

40: Hanky Panky

Invented by Ada Coleman at the Savoy’s American Bar, this drink got its name after a patron shouted at it: “By Jove! That is the real hanky-panky!” Hanky Pankys have been around so long they no longer engender excitable exclamation. At The American Bar of today the Martini-style drink is made from Bombay Sapphire gin, Martini Rosso vermouth and Fernet Branca.

39: Americano

If you tried a Negroni before you tried an Americano, it may come as a disappointment. The Americano is with soda not gin, so a less alcoholic version of its powerhouse offspring. The recipe is Campari, sweet vermouth and soda and, while balance is importance, the place you drink it is more so. Try the sunny courtyard of the Stravinskij Bar in Rome, one of our Bars to Watch for 2016. It’s certainly where we had our best Americano.

38: Ramos Gin Fizz

This half milkshake, half Gin Fizz concoction was named after the New Orleans bartender who created it in 1888, Henry Charles Ramos. The original saw silky smooth cream and orange flower put a new spin on the fizz. In that transformative vein let’s look to Dead Rabbit’s rendition, which brings leaves and nuts into the fold and replaces lemon with lime. The Pistache Fizz is: eucalyptus tincture, pistachio syrup, green tea-infused Tanqueray, egg white, cream, lime juice and soda. 

37: Bramble 

Not many drinks invented in the 1980s made it into the next century but this blackcurrant and gin mix is the best-selling classic in two of our bars and regularly sold in seven. Where else to get a recipe than Edinburgh hot spot and World’s 50 Best Bars six-timer, Bramble. It opts for Hayman’s London Dry Gin, lemon juice, sugar syrup and Merlet Crème de Mures. 

36: Bellini

This is one of the few unserious drinks you are likely to find in a serious cocktail bar. In Italy peach-marinated wine is a traditional thing, so the Bellini draws on this combination, though not always with fresh peaches. We won’t bother with a recipe, as there are only two ingredients. We will bother to say in 9% of bars this was a top-ten classic and in two bars the top seller. 

35: Vodka Martini

Bartenders at the W50BB tend to be on the gin team when it comes to Martinis. So the vodka version, aka Kangaroo and Vodkatini, takes a subordinate role. But if you’re a vodka drinker, this is the best way to get at your poison – with only a little vermouth as resistance. Try Duke’s White Truffle Martini: Chase vodka, Sacred Distillery dry vermouth and an olive stuffed with cheese marinated in truffle vodka. 

34: Vesper

With the Dry Martini and the Vodka Martini both in this list, their lovechild, the vodka-gin-based Vesper is something of a vote cannibal. Still, the Vesper is up five places on last year. Bangkok bar Vesper makes a Silver Vesper with Tanqueray, Ketel One, “Italian aperitif” and orange bitters. Sadly it is not its number one tipple. 

33: Sidecar

Overtaking the Brandy Julep this year, the Sidecar is the second most likely brandy classic at the world’s best bars. The original was popular in France in the ’20s and first introduced in London by a man called Mr McGarry, no relation to the co-author of The Dead Rabbit Drinks Manual, from which we found this information. It was made simply from cognac, triple sec and lemon juice. 

32: Clover Club

This pink-hued pre-Prohibition classic was invented in Philadelphia and is a top-10 favourite of 10% of the world’s top bars, according to our poll. Julie Reiner’s Brooklyn bar Clover Club – which is a five-time member of the World’s 50 Best Bars all-time – is, of course, named after the drink. The Brooklyn bar uses gin, dry vermouth, raspberry, lemon juice and egg white. But this is a fairly standard recipe that they’d be happy to throw together in most of the world’s best bars.

31: Zombie

Tiki demigod Don the Beachcomber’s drink of the living dead is the Zombie, which is alive and kicking at the world’s best bars. Four bars said it was their top-selling classic. Let’s take the recipe from tiki Mecca Smuggler’s Cove: Jamaican, demerara and Puerto Rican rums, grapefruit and lime juice, cinnamon syrup, falernum, grenadine, Angostura bitters, drops of Pernod and a mint sprig.   

30: Amaretto Sour

Unexpectedly, the almondy Amaretto Sour is the no.1 best-selling classic at four of the 100 bars we spoke to. Indeed, a third of bars said that it was sold regularly and was their top serve. As an approachable sweet-sour drink, it’s a crowd pleaser and also flexible enough for modern twists. Bourbon gives the drink a little more power, but in its original form it is two shots of amaretto, lemon juice and egg white, while Angostura bitters are optional.

29: Pimm’s Cup

James Pimm’s fruit and gin liqueur was first made in 1823 and has since become part of the UK’s drinking furniture. However, as subsequent owners have systematically downgraded the abv of the liqueur which forms the base of the broader cocktail, it has fallen a little out of the premium space of bartenders’ thinking. In The PDT Cocktail Book, Jim Meehan makes his with Pimm’s No.1 Cup, lemon juice, simple syrup and muddled cucumber slices, topped with ginger ale.

28: Tom Collins 

This age-old lemon and gin drink is about the most refreshing libation around. Most Tom Collins these 
days are children of the gin house pour, which at the world’s best bars is most likely to be Tanqueray or Beefeater. Traditionalists insist the original recipe called for Old Tom gin (hence the name) and at Beaufort Bar, in this year’s World’s 50 Best Bars, the ’tenders have been known to use Jensen’s Old Tom as the principal part of their Tom Collins recipe. 

27: Espresso Martini

Dick Bradsell made the first – for a customer who wanted a drink that would “wake her up and fuck her up”. But the Espresso Martini also arouses and nullifies the senses at the world’s best bars, with 12% listing it among their regular roster. In two bars it is the top-selling classic. 50 Best Academy member Tristan Stephenson, from Worship Street Whistling Shop, has written a book on coffee. He says: “I hate the practice of adding coffee liqueur to an Espresso Martini. You’re effectively making a coffee liqueur from scratch, so best to let the actual coffee sing loudest.”

26: Vieux Carre 

This sweet-hearted Manhattan – named after New Orleans’ French quarter, debuts this year. Thirteen per cent of our 100 bars said it was among their best sellers this time out, but none name it a top seller. So how do you make it? Well let’s take you back in time. Not to the ’30s when it was invented by Walter Bergeron, head bartender at the now Monteleone hotel bar in New Orleans, but to 2013, when Artesian was knocking out its own version. A heady mix of Rémy Martin, vermouth, Pikesville rye whiskey and Benedictine, plus dashes of Angostura and Peychauds bitters, presented in the way you would expect from Artesian.

25: Piña Colada

Somewhere between cool and uncool lives the Piña Colada. And sometimes, like now, it is both at once. You will find it in the best bars in the world – 14% in our poll name it among their top 10 – and the worst bars in the world. Piña Colada means ‘strained pineapple’ and harks back to the first rendezvous between pineapples and rum. Coconut then at some stage got in on the action in what is the vaguest history of anything ever written. For a spin on the classic, try Maison Premiere’s twist with absinthe and crème de menthe. 

24: Boulevardier

It’s a first outing along the top 50 boulevard for the Boulevardier, which was found to be a top-10 cocktail in 14% of the world’s best bars. It’s simple to make – see the Negroni recipe and sub in American whiskey for gin. The choice which faces many a cocktail aficionado is whether it be rye or bourbon. We prefer the peppery, more jagged tone of rye.

23: Penicillin

Invented by the ex-Milk & Honey and now Attaboy (11th in The World’s 50 Best Bars 2015) owner Sam Ross, this drink uses blended scotch, lemon juice, honey-ginger syrup and Islay scotch and is garnished with candied ginger. Credit where credit’s due, very few bartenders of the modern era have created cocktails considered classics. This medicinal, mould-inspired drink is firmly in that mould.

22: Corpse Reviver 

The ultimate hangover cure is the Corpse Reviver, though there is scarce evidence it has sprung dead people into animation. The drink dates back to Harry Craddock’s early 20th-century Savoy Cocktail Book, when it seems people of fiscal freedom were hungover a lot. There are many versions but the original is cognac, calvados and sweet vermouth, stirred with ice and strained into a cocktail glass. Craddock recommends you drink one before 11am.

21: Mint Julep

Once you’ve refrigerated the Julep tin for so long it’s colder than the fridge, the drink is almost done. Just add mint, sugar and bourbon and there you have it. At the Kentucky Derby the Mint Julep is the no.1 cocktail, but at 100 elite bars we asked, not one said it was their no.1 classic serve. 

20: Rum Old Fashioned 

Goncalo de Sousa Monteiro, of Buck & Breck in Berlin, made a breakthrough Rum Old Fashioned in 2009. His recipe sees Taylor’s Velvet Falernum liqueur enter the mix, along with overproof white rum and dark rum. While customers may order Old Fashioneds like they are going out of fashion, it’s increasingly likely you’ll see this variation on a menu of the world’s best bars. 

19: Aperol Spritz

The Aperol Spritz sees three parts wine, two parts Aperol and one part soda make friends in a glass. As an Italian aperitivo, it is suitable for the hot-weather occasion so its recent popularity in dark, brooding bars isn’t logical. Probably this one came from the consumer, not the trade. Root cause aside, this drink has its own roots in northern Italy, so for authenticity the wine should be from Veneto, preferably Prosecco. 

18: Aviation

Dropping a little altitude in the list but still the fifth best-selling gin cocktail at the World’s Best Bars is the Aviation. Essentially a refined Tom Collins with some maraschino, this is a top 10 seller in about 15% of polled bars. The recipe first appeared in Hugo Ensslin’s 1916 Recipes for Mixed Drinks, where crème de violette provided an extra floral dimension

17: Gin Fizz 

Somehow the humble but effervescent Gin Fizz failed to make the top 50 classics list last year, but it’s here now, with 15% of the world’s best bars we polled attesting to its selling power. It’s gin, lime or lemon, sugar, egg (optional) and soda. This is more of a blank canvas drink, yearning for embellishment.

16: Gimlet

This gin-and-lime twosome is a top-10 seller in 18% of the word’s best bars. It’s essentially gin and juice but somehow has credibility beyond its ingredients. Whether with lime cordial or lime juice sweetened with sugar, the ratio was originally 50/50, but that was when people didn’t care much for their teeth. Now a 75/25 gin-to-Roses lime cordial seems to be about the standard.

15: French 75

Popularised in Paris in the ’20s, perhaps now the French 75’s louchey heyday is behind it. But the French 75 is up 10 places in our list, with about 20% of polled bars saying it was among their top-10 sellers. At Arnaud’s – home of the drink in New Orleans – it’s made with Courvoisier VS, fresh lemon juice, freshly squeezed, simple syrup, a lemon twist and Mumm Cordon Rouge champagne.

14: Pisco Sour

Is the Pisco Sour the son of Peru or is it Chile? It’s a long story, but it’s probably Peruvian, with weekend access for the Chileans. All we know is Pisco is fast becoming the new spirit de hipster and the Pisco Sour is the classic cocktail that all pisco drinks must measure up to. White Rabbit from Santiago was one of 22 bars in our poll that named the Pisco Sour a top-10 classic cocktail. 

13: Mai Tai

One of the machinations of the mind of Victor Jules Bergeron, the Mai Tai has been swept along by the tiki revival and come ashore in many of the world’s best bars. Though down four places in our chart this year, it is a kitsch classic loved by bartenders in their less serious moments. Requested at Artesian last year, it was two parts golden rum, one part orange curacao, one part lime, half part Disaronno and half part simple syrup, all shaken up with ice, strained and served.

12: Dark ’n’ Stormy

This Bermuda highball is almost too simple for the label ‘cocktail’. In essence, it is rum’s version of the Moscow Mule. The history goes that British seafarers brought the ginger beer and local distiller Gosling’s met them half way with its rum. They threw in some lime, and there you have it, the Dark ’n’ Stormy. Twists, riffs and embellishments aside, this is a recipe blokes with beards and tats use in the world’s best bars and the world’s best boats. Slipping one place this year it is a top 10 seller in 20% of the bars that featured in our poll.

11: Bloody Mary

Up three from last year and a top 10 selling classic in a quarter of bars polled is the Bloody Mary. You can argue about the makeup of this drink, but only until you have tried the Connaught’s version. Ago Perone uses Ketel One vodka, fresh tomato juice, a homemade spice mix, fresh lemon juice and celery air. Yes, celery air. It will convert even the bloody-minded Bloody Mary hater.

10: Mojito

Down two from last year, this Cuban drink has felt the brunt of changing fashion and now feels like a vestige of the last decade. Yet it remains a true classic. Havana’s La Bodeguita is the place for a mouthful of mint and though never a top 50 bar, our Academy has thrown a few votes its way over the years.
It makes its Mojitos with rum, lime juice, soda, brown cane sugar, fresh mint and ice.

9: Moscow Mule

Up from 12, the Moscow Mule has seen an unlikely comeback in the past few years. It’s a crowd pleaser in just under a third of our 100 bars, with popularity seemingly springing up from the US. Clover Club, one of The World’s 50 Best Bars all-time achievers, sells vodka, lime, ginger and soda during happy hour, which keeps the less adventurous punters satisfied. 

8: Sazerac

Down from no.3 to no.8, the Sazerac remains a top 10 in a third of bars. Cure apparently makes the best in NOLA, birthplace of the drink. The Bonded Sazerac is EH Taylor rye whiskey, demerara syrup (2:1), two or three drops of Peychaud’s bitters, a splash of Nouvelle Orleans absinthe, lemon peel and dense ice. 

7: Margarita 

The Margarita is frozen at no.7 this year, though mostly not served frozen at the third of our bars that said it was a best seller. As Tommy’s was among the World’s 50 Best Bars this year, let’s drop by there for the recipe. The Tommy’s Margarita, by Julio Bermejo, is reposado 100% agave tequila, plus fresh lime juice and agave syrup. 

6: Whiskey Sour

Up from 10 to six is the Whiskey Sour, a top 10 favourite of a third of our 100 polled bars, though only one said it was number one. That’s not too surprising as this is an everyman’s drink, hardly a house signature. The recipe is bourbon, lemon juice and a teaspoon of sugar. Egg white is optional, but anything to add interest seems worthwhile. 

5: Dry Martini 

No.5 at the world’s best bars is the Dry Martini. In the UK, Duke’s is the AOC of this classic, but in light of Barcelona’s Dry Martini (a stalwart of The World’s 50 Best Bars) opening in London, we shall defer to Javier de la Muelas. His bar uses half and half gin to French vermouth, a dash of orange bitters, a squeeze of lemon rind and a green olive. If it’s a Martini for Muelas, drop the lemon. 

4: Daiquiri

Up two places to fourth is the Daiquiri. In just under half the bars we polled, this was a top classic and in 10% it was their no.1 yesteryear mix. We could ask La Floridita in Havana for the recipe but in memory of Sasha Petraske – a two-time champion of 50Best – we shall use his. That’s fresh lime juice, 1:1 simple syrup and Plantation Three Star white rum for punch. 

3: Manhattan

Up a place from last year, the Manhattan was in the top 10 in half the bars we polled, but rarely is it the top classic. Its origin is an enigma but heading to NYC for a recipe can’t be far wrong. Jim Meehan of PDT suggests rye whiskey, sweet vermouth and two dashes of Angostura, stirred with ice, strained into a
chilled coupe and garnished with brandied cherries.

2: Negroni

The Negroni was a top 10 best-selling classic in more than two-thirds of our 100 bars, and again second to the Old Fashioned. It is the most popular gin cocktail out there. Don’t mess with the recipe, says received wisdom, including Gaz Regan. It’s a third, a third, a third of Campari, sweet vermouth and gin. And for Count Negroni’s sake, stirred, not shaken.

1: Old Fashioned 

As last year, the Old Fashioned is anything but at the world’s best bars. Three-quarters of bars polled said it was among their top 10 best-selling classics and a quarter said it was their number one. Our bars opt for bourbon, but The World’s 50 Best Bars host David Wondrich suggests rye would probably have been the likely choice way back when. He goes with: 1 sugar cube – wetted with three dashes of Angostura Bitters and a little soda – crushed, stirred with a large ice cube and two ounces of rye.