In January, Drinks International, a trade publication for the alcohol industry, released its annual list of the world’s best-selling 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, 109 bars from 38 different countries were surveyed.
One of the big takeaways from this year’s list: The spirit of the Roaring ’20s is indeed making a comeback, with four of the six newcomers to the list boasting Prohibition-era pedigrees. Meanwhile, other early- and mid-20th century classics saw significant gains in popularity, proving that, in uncertain times, it helps to have some tried-and-true favorites to fall back on.
Here are the top 50 cocktails of 2020.
50. Blood & Sand
Invented in the 1920s in honor of the Rudolph Valentino film of the same name, the Blood & Sand has withstood the test of time for almost 100 years. This classic is made by combining equal parts Scotch, sweet vermouth, Cherry Heering (the “blood”), and orange juice (the “sand”), although modern bartenders frequently adjust the proportions to tone down its sweetness.
49. 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.
48. Brandy Alexander
More of a boozy dessert than a cocktail, the Brandy Alexander is an early-20th century drink that’s made notable pop culture appearances in “Brideshead Revisited” and “Days of Wine and Roses.” This equal-parts mixture of brandy, crème de cacao, and heavy cream is a newcomer to the Top 50.
47. Old Cuban
If you drew a line between a Mojito and a French 75, the Old Cuban would sit squarely in the middle. Invented by Audrey Saunders, owner of Pegu Club in New York City, this cocktail combines aged run, lime juice, mint leaves, and Angostura bitters, before being topped off by a healthy splash of Champagne.
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.
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.
44. Vodka Martini
The Vodka Martini spiked in popularity in 2017, but has since slid down 23 spots. 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.
43. 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 five spots down the list since 2019.
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. 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. The second Audrey Saunders mashup cocktail to make the list, the Gin Gin Mule (a.k.a. the Ginger Rogers) is a cross between a Moscow Mule and a Mojito, with gin starring in the show.
If you can’t decide whether to have gin or vodka in your Martini, why not compromise with a Vesper? Invented by author Ian Fleming for the James Bond novel “Casino Royale,” the Vesper originally called for a boozy mixture of gin, vodka, and the now-discontinued Kina Lillet. (Lillet Blanc or the quinine-laced Cocchi Americano are admirable, if necessary, substitutes.)
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.)
38. 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.
37. 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. Despite its simplicity, however, the Rum Old Fashioned dropped 22 places in popularity since 2019, the farthest single-year fall of any cocktail on the list.
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 glad to see it’s since stuck around. 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.
35. Tom Collins
The original Tom Collins recipe calls for gin, lemon, and soda water; essentially, it’s a spritzy lemonade for grownups. This quintessential highball has advanced 6 places since 2019, proving that classics have staying power.
34. 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.
33. Pornstar Martini
A newcomer to the list, this passionfruit and vanilla vodka cocktail is traditionally served with a shot of Prosecco on the side. Yes, it sounds a little extra, but with a name like “Pornstar Martini,” would you expect anything less?
Supposedly a favorite of Prohibition-era mobsters from Chicago’s South Side, this gin, mint, and lime-based sour is a newcomer to this year’s Top 50 list.
31. 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.
30. Gin Fizz
29. Last Word
A drink from the days of Prohibition, the revival of the Last Word — which combines gin, green chartreuse, Maraschino liqueur, and lime juice — has been credited to bartender Murray Stenson, who came across the drink in an old bar manual while working at Seattle’s Zig Zag Café in 2004.
28. Pisco Sour
27. 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.
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. The Bramble’s complexity is clearly working in its favor: The drink is up 11 places since 2019.
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.
24. 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.
23. 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.
22. 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.
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.
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. The Aviation has had a bumpy flight these past few years, descending 10 spots from 2017 to 2019 before rising back up 7 this year.
19. 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.
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.
17. French 75
The French 75 calls for gin, lemon juice, sugar, and Champagne. It’s a classy affair, but can also be found in one of our favorite canned cocktails. Yet another example of the renewed popularity of classic cocktails, the French 75 jumped 12 spots since 2019.
16. Clover Club
Jumping 26 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.
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.
14. 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.
Developed by bartender Julio Bermejo of San Francisco’s Tommy’s Mexican Restaurant in the 1990s, the Tommy’s Margarita doubles the amount of agave present in the traditional Margarita by swapping out the orange liqueur for agave syrup. You’ve probably had your share of Tommy’s Margaritas without even realizing it.
Two parts gin, one part lime juice, and one-half part sweetener, the Gimlet is an easy sipper that inspires many iterations, and has risen 10 spots in popularity since 2019.
11. Moscow Mule
10. 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 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.
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.
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.
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.
5. 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.
4. 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.
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 sixth 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.