The classic cocktails first created at the turn of last century have undergone numerous iterations over the decades to reflect the tastes of drinking culture today. They can be enjoyed as part of a happy hour wind down at a bar, as summer refreshments by the ocean, or alone at home as mealtime indulgences.
Furthermore, these iconic drinks have a staying power that proves the recipes work every time and each mix works to enhance the base spirit ingredient, fruity additives, and sweet or sour notes. While different bars and lounges may have their own versions of the drinks, they manage to stay true to the old-fashioned techniques that make these liqueurs timeless.
Here are the five most popular cocktails of all time:
As the current title holder of world’s most popular cocktail of 2022 and still one of the most popular of all time by drinks publications, the Negroni is a definitive favorite drink. This punchy, three-ingredient, Italy-originating cocktail is surprisingly easy to make—just mix equal parts of Campari, vermouth, and a dry gin.
Additions, such as Champagne or Cava, can be poured in, as well as a slice of lemon as garnishing. Moreover, bartenders enjoy serving Negroni with Mezcal as a base spirit that can be ordered as an aperitif at lounges and speakeasies, such as at 36 Below, to enhance the flavors of food and snacks. The Negroni’s white variation is an aromatic wine, and White Vermouth gives it its distinct pale-yellow color and bittersweet taste.
Described as the ‘perfect summer drink’, with lower-than-average alcohol content, the minty sweet Mojito remains one of the top favorites among popular classic cocktails. This bubbly beverage consists of rum, mint leaves, crushed ice, limes, sugar, and a clear tinted carbonated drink, sparkling water, or soda water. It’s all served in tall glassware, with a straw to finish it off.
What makes this tasty Cuban gem so unique is that it has very few variations, unlike other cocktails, and these are only slight deviations from the original. Some have fruit additions, such as pineapple and coconut blended or blue curacao, with syrups and herbs, such as basil. However, the base ingredients and preparation are kept the same to retain the distinct two-toned green and white color look.
The Martini is among the most versatile and creative popular cocktails today because it can be ordered in so many variations. Classic Martinis are made simple with London Dry Gin and Dry Vermouth, then strained into a Marinin glass and stirred with ice.
The more modern types of Martinis are drinks where vodka replaces gin and is mixed with one or more flavorings. These include Apple Martinis with apple schnapps and lemon juice, and the Espresso Martini with coffee liqueur. There are also specialty Martinis that contain sherry, chocolate, and saké, a Japanese rice wine, that are served with Asian dishes.
This creamy tropical delight from Puerto Rico reminds drinkers of fruit smoothies with a mix of cream of coconut or coconut milk, rum, and pineapple. The modern-day version is served with blended or crushed ice, and garnished with a pineapple slice and a cocktail umbrella at beach-based bars and restaurants.
Traditional Piña Coladas use white or light rum to even out the flavor profile, and allow all the ingredients to come through. Many drinkers who prefer a more sour and pungent taste request lemon or lime additions or a dark and spicy rum to counteract the sweetness. Despite this, either version is known to go well with fish dishes, such as shrimp and spicy tuna toppings.
Another three-ingredient cocktail is the Margarita, which is made of tequila, lime juice, and an orange liqueur to give it a sour taste. Its name was purportedly taken from the Spanish word for ‘daisy,’ which was a predecessor of the drink during the prohibition era and has remained popular ever since.
A Margarita’s glass rim is lined with lime to allow ground sea salt to stick to it.
This adds some zest to its flavor profile when drinkers take a sip. This can also be served straight, on the rocks, frozen, or in a shaved ice blend. These days, Margarita recipes consist of sliced fruits, as well as juice and syrup mixes for a refreshing sweetened summer drink. They include apple, peach, watermelon, and blood orange, served in a drinking jar with a lime wedge on the rim for garnish.
The most popular cocktails of all time are a variation of their original forms, created over years of different cultural influences and mixology creativity. Most liqueur enthusiasts and bartenders are familiar with these drinks, which can be ordered at almost any bar because of how classic they are.
Most of these cocktails are fruit-based, with either a sour or sweet profile, and a base alcohol that gives them their respective identities. Drinkers can enjoy them with compatible foods or request slight ingredient changes according to personal taste.