In January, Drinks International, a trade publication for the alcohol industry, released its annual list of the world’s best cocktails. To create the list, DI surveyed the best bars around the globe, asking them to rank the 10 best-selling classic cocktails at their establishments. These responses were then weighted and ranked, yielding the most-ordered cocktails. This year, 127 bars were surveyed.
The message in 2019 is clear as glass: Classic cocktails are here to stay. Although we lost a few, like the Mint Julep, many tried-and-true tipples remain. Some newcomers took us by surprise, like the Irish Coffee (why wasn’t it here before?) and the Bamboo, a sherry-based drink.
Tiki culture asserts itself in several places; gin shows off its versatility; and, we’re happy to see, we’re not the only ones obsessed with Negronis and Boulevardiers.
Here are the top 50 cocktails of 2019.
50. White Russian
Created in 1949 by a Belgian bartender named Gustave Tops, and popularized by the 1998 film “The Big Lebowski,” the White Russian continues to be a world-wide favorite. The White Russian combines heavy cream (or half and half), vodka, and coffee liqueur for a luxurious nightcap.
This crowd-pleasing cousin of the Mimosa tops 2 ounces of peach puree with 4 ounces of Prosecco. It’s believed to have been invented in the 1930s or 1940s by Giuseppe Cipriani at Harry’s Bar in Venice, Italy, and we’re pleased to see it last as a brunch-time staple today.
48. Champagne Cocktail
The Champagne Cocktail is a simply named, sophisticated beverage that’s evolved over time. The original recipe, from the 1862 volume, “Bon Vivants Companion” by Jerry Thomas, suggests mixing brandy or Cognac with Champagne. Here at VinePair, we make a version with Angostura Bitters and a sugar cube.
47. Irish Coffee
The Irish Coffee was pioneered by Irish Chef Joe Sheridan in the 1940s. James Beard winner and author of “The Craft of the Cocktail” Dale DeGroff describes Irish Coffee as, “cold cream, hot sweet coffee, laced with wonderful Irish whiskey.” What’s not to love? Exact proportions and types of whiskey, sugar, and cream preparations can vary slightly, but when done right, it’s delicious.
We may have sherry’s resurgence to thank for the Bamboo, a cocktail made with one-and-a-half parts sherry, one-and-a-half parts dry vermouth, two dashes Angostura bitters, and two dashes orange bitters.
45. Gin Gin Mule
You might do a double-take when you see the Gin Gin Mule on the list of the world’s most popular cocktails. This newcomer is a cross between a Moscow Mule and a Mojito, with gin starring in the show. The creative cocktail was first made in 2000 by Audrey Saunders, owner of Pegu Club in New York City.
44. Long Island Iced Tea
Long Island Iced Tea is a timeless anomaly: vodka, gin, tequila, rum, triple sec, and cola in big ol’ glass. It’s sweet, sticky, boozy, made for making memories (and promptly forgetting them), and holding on at No. 44 in the world’s most popular cocktails.
James Bond drinks vodka Martinis, shaken; sensible people drink Martinis the way they’re meant to be: with gin, stirred. Consider the Vesper a compromise, using both vodka and gin, as well as Lillet vermouth.
Brazil’s national cocktail, the Caipirinha, had its moment in the spotlight during the 2016 Olympics in Rio. The following year, it claimed the No. 25 spot on this list. However, it falls to No. 42 in 2019. The cocktail is made with Brazil’s national spirit, cachaça, along with sugar and lime.
41. Tom Collins
The original Tom Collins recipe calls for gin, lemon, and soda water; essentially, it’s a spritzy lemonade for grownups. This classic cocktail slipped 17 places since 2017, but still holds on as a global favorite.
Thanks to the national embrace of tiki culture, several tropical cocktails feature on this list. Originating in the British Virgin Islands, the Painkiller is a mix of Pusser’s Navy Rum, cream of coconut, pineapple juice, and orange juice. It’s a fruity, boozy, pumped up Piña Colada.
39. Bees Knees
Made with gin, lemon, and honey classic, this Prohibition-era cocktail was originally invented to mask the counterfeit bathtub gin die-hard drinkers were making at home in that era.
38. Ramos Gin Fizz
Originally called the New Orleans Gin Fizz, then renamed for its creator, Henry C. Ramos, the Ramos Gin Fizz takes the classic fizz and ups the milkshake-like creaminess. Famously requiring 12 minutes of shaking gin, simple syrup, lemon juice, lime juice, egg white, heavy cream, and orange flower water, we admire any bartender responsible for the cocktail featuring on this list. However, it fizzled 10 spots down the list since 2017.
Created by Dick Bradsell at Fred’s Club in London in the 1980s, the Bramble combines the bright, tangy berry flavors of gin and blackcurrant liqueur (Merlet Crème de Mures is a favorite of some bartenders, although crème de cassis works as well). It also includes gin, lemon, simple syrup, and plenty of crushed ice.
36. Vodka Martini
The Vodka Martini spiked in popularity in 2017, but slides down 15 places in 2019. It’s pretty basic: a shot of chilled vodka mixed with a little dry vermouth, somehow still in demand at the world’s best cocktail bars.
35. Hanky Panky
The Hanky Panky jumped 12 spots in just two years. First made by London bartender Ada Coleman, who was primed to mix a drink with a little kick to it, she shook up dry gin, Italian vermouth, and Fernet-Branca. As the story goes, a customer exclaimed, “By Jove! That is the real hanky panky!” and the name stuck.
34. Jungle Bird
Flying up 10 spots since 2017, the Jungle Bird is a throwback to the 1970s tiki movement. It’s made with rum, Campari, lime, pineapple juice, and sugar, achieving balance despite its sweet ingredients. (It’s also a favorite of Dante bartender Liana Oster.)
33. White Lady
This cocktail originating in the 1920s was reimagined with a dash of egg whites by Peter Dorelli, former manager of The American Bar in London. Its base is gin, mixed with fresh lemon juice and either Cointreau or Combier.
The Paloma may be the most-loved tequila cocktail at VinePair. We were thrilled when it entered this list for the first time in 2017, and are thrilled to see it again today. The Paloma mixes tequila and grapefruit — we think Avion, Spindrift grapefruit soda, and a squeeze of fresh lime work best — or you can switch it up with, seasonal ingredients, or substitute tequila for slightly smoky mezcal.
Made iconic by TV’s “Sex and the City,” the Cosmo mixes vodka, triple sec, cranberry juice, and lime juice. It’s the liquid soul of the aspirational 1990s female, and still resonates with the world today. (Incidentally, Carrie Bradshaw has reportedly moved on to Stella Artois.)
Brandy, tragically underrepresented on this list, earns a well-deserved moment in the worldwide spotlight as the star of one of the world’s most-ordered cocktails. The Sidecar is a good place to start for those not familiar with the category-spanning spirit: the drink mixes brandy, lemon, and triple sec, making a tart, refreshing tipple.
29. French 75
28. Vieux Carré
The Vieux Carré is an American cocktail invented in New Orleans’ French Quarter. Similar to the Manhattan, it’s made with brandy, whiskey, sweet vermouth, Benedictine, Angostura, and Peychaud’s bitters.
Aviation descends 10 spots since 2017, but it hasn’t lost its appeal. After acquainting yourself with Tom Collins, meet an Aviation: Served up in a Martini glass, the gorgeous lavender-colored cocktail is made with Crème de Violette or Creme Yvette, Maraschino liqueur, gin, and lemon juice.
26. Piña Colada
Another nod to the tiki resurgence, this 1970s-era Puerto Rican slushie pleasure is made with white rum, coconut cream, and pineapple juice. It enters the ranking this year as one of the most-ordered cocktails of the year.
25. Amaretto Sour
In a victorious climb from No. 41 in 2017, the Amaretto Sour is both a staple at the world’s best bars, and a drink we’ve compared to a liquid Sour Patch Kid. It’s both sweet from the nutty amaretto, and sour from lemon juice, while egg white smooths out the tang.
24. Pisco Sour
Not to be confused with the espresso drink (and in fact, having nothing to do with coffee at all), this Italian cocktail was created by Gaspare Campari, who served it in his bar Caffè Campari in the 1860s. New to the list in 2018, and up 15 places since then, the Campari, vermouth, and soda water drink is quickly rising in popularity.
Two parts gin, one part lime juice, and one-half part sweetener, the Gimlet is an easy sipper that inspires many iterations.
21. Mai Tai
Perhaps the tiki-est of tiki cocktails, the Mai Tai was hard to resist among the world’s drinkers last year. Its recipe typically includes different varieties of rum, orange juice, triple sec, and several sweeteners.
A VinePair staff favorite, the Boulevardier is the Negroni’s fraternal twin that utilizes whiskey instead of gin. It’s simply equal parts rye, amaro, and sweet vermouth. Garnish with an orange twist, and you’ve got yourself an afternoon.
19. Clover Club
Jumping 23 spots since 2018, the Clover Club was originally named after a men’s club in Philadelphia, and is now synonymous with the eponymous premiere cocktail club in Brooklyn. The bright pink drink contains gin, lemon juice, raspberry syrup, and an egg white.
18. Gin Fizz
17. Dark ’N’ Stormy
The Dark ’n’ Stormy contains a mix of Gosling’s rum (and only Gosling’s rum) and ginger beer. Sometimes, simplest is best.
16. Corpse Reviver
Talk about a revival. This drink rises 22 spots this year, and has an interesting twist: There are two versions. Corpse Reviver #1 calls for Cognac, calvados, brandy, and vermouth; while Corpse Reviver #2 uses equal parts gin, lemon juice, Cointreau, Lillet Blanc, and a dash of absinthe. Choose wisely.
15. Rum Old Fashioned
Rum has grown out of its rum-and-coke banality to world-class cocktail mixer. The Rum Old Fashioned is simply an Old Fashioned made with rum.
Nothing cures the weary bar goer like a Penicillin, made with blended Scotch, smoky Islay Scotch, lemon juice, and honey ginger simple syrup. Created by Sam Ross, co-owner of New York’s Attaboy, it’ll bring you back to life like a Z-pack.
13. Bloody Mary
The Bloody Mary is as much an experience as a drink. The brunch-time staple is best enjoyed with a house mix of tomato juice, vodka, and spices. And, if it’s your thing, an array of garnishes, from celery and olives, to bacon, to entire cheeseburgers, are known to make appearances.
The Mojito might be Cuba’s most popular contribution to cocktail culture. The simple mix of white rum, lime juice, cane sugar, and soda (with muddled mint, please) is fresh and tropical, and it’s a classic that we don’t expect to disappear any time soon.
The Sazerac slips just out of the top 10 this year, but its staying power is clear. The drink originated in the 1850s in New Orleans, and remains deeply entwined with Crescent City culture. It can be made with rye or brandy, along with Demerara syrup, Peychaud’s Bitters, a lemon twist, and absinthe as needed.
10. Moscow Mule
9. Aperol Spritz
If you haven’t noticed the Aperol Spritz, you haven’t been drinking (or on Instagram). Moving into the top 10 from No. 22 in 2017, this popular aperitif is as visually pleasing as it is tasty and easy to make: a three-two-one ratio of Prosecco, Aperol, and soda. May the summer of spritz compel you.
The Margarita, in its tart, tangy simplicity, is probably the most well-known tequila cocktail in the world. It keeps its spot as the top tequila-based classic in 2019.
7. Espresso Martini
Like a refined Red Bull and vodka for coffee lovers, the Espresso Martini promises a pick-me-up, calm-me-down effect in a tasty package. The after-dinner drink will wake you up while still keeping your buzz going. It’s also been called a Vodka Espresso and Pharmaceutical Stimulant.
6. Dry Martini
A well-made dry Martini is elegance in a glass. The classic mix of gin and dry vermouth ranks No. 6 in the top 50 cocktails of the year.
It’s hard to stray from the Manhattan, and the recent rise of rye whiskey makes it even more difficult. Spicy rye, sweet vermouth, and two dashes of Angostura, stirred, strained, and garnished with a brandied cherry can make you feel like a true class act.
3. Whiskey Sour
This dependable drink is an easy fit for whiskey lovers, as well as those weary of the brown spirit: its lemony lift and slight sweetness make it appealing for citrus lovers, too. Its simple recipe calls for whiskey, lemon juice, and sugar.
We love Negronis at VinePair, so much so that we’re sorely disappointed when a bartender doesn’t know how to make one. Thankfully, that shouldn’t happen much longer, as the Negroni claims the No. 2 spot for the fifth year running. Gin, Campari, and vermouth in a perfect, punchy package.
1. Old Fashioned
The Old Fashioned is timeless. This simple classic made with rye or bourbon, a sugar cube, Angostura bitters, a thick cube of ice, and an orange twist delivers every time. That’s it — the most popular cocktail in the world.