The bestselling classic cocktails at the world's best bars

17 May, 2023

20. Americano

Precursor to the Negroni, before the eponymous Italian count jacked up its abv with a slug of gin, the Americano is a fine aperitivo in its own right. It also couldnt be more now, with its bitter flavour profile, low alcohol content and Highball-style presentation. This classic, thought to have originated at Gaspare Camparis bar in the 1860s, probably only gained its name much later, when American tourists taking a holiday from Prohibition favoured this over its stronger-flavoured precursor, the Milano-Torino. An inspired splash of soda lightened up the latter drink, with its equal-parts blend of Campari and sweet vermouth.

19. Mai Tai

Firmly among those cocktails that are transcendent when made properly, but have been much abused over the years, the Mai Tai is the most legendary of tiki classics. Victor Jules Bergeron Trader Vic claimed to have invented it in 1944, although hes not the only one. His account in which he combined J Wray & Nephew rum, lime juice, curaçao, orgeat and rock candy syrup in his bar in Oakland also offers the best story regarding the drinks name. Giving this new creation to a pair of friends visiting from Tahiti that night, one exclaimed mai tai-roa aé”, meaning, in Tahitian: Out of this world the best.

18. Boulevardier

Bearing an uncanny resemblance to the number one cocktail on this list, this whiskey, Campari and sweet vermouth drink has, remarkably, a history all of its own, and one that might pre-date that of the Negroni. The Boulevardier is widely attributed to Erskine Gwynne, socialite and editor of a Paris magazine entitled The Boulevardier in the 1920s. Bartender Harry McElhone namechecked Gwynne as the creator of the drink in his 1927 book Barflies and Cocktails, recommending equal parts of the drinks three ingredients. Modern-day versions differ, usually with a larger proportion of bourbon, or even rye.

17. Last Word

The story of the Last Word is less about where it was invented possibly the Detroit Athletic Club and more about those who have kept it alive over the years. Vaudeville actor Frank Fogarty spread the word after visiting the club in 1916, and Ted Saucier of the Waldorf Astoria Hotel included it in his cocktail book Bottoms Up in 1951. More than a few decades of obscurity followed, ending when bartender Murray Stenson unearthed a copy of that same tome in the early 2000s and put the forgotten classic on his menu. The Last Word is made with gin, Green Chartreuse, Maraschino and lime and is the highest climber on this list.

16. Mojito

With a cast that includes everyone from Sir Francis Drake to Ernest Hemingway, the Mojito has a long and colourful history. Well probably never know whether the 16th-century English seafarer said to have given the drink its former name, the Drake or Draque, was actually involved in its creation. Or whether, instead, the drink originally hails from Havanas Bodeguita del Medio, where Hemingway is said to have enjoyed his fair share of them. We do know that only a few years ago it was so popular as to become the bane of bartenderslives, although thats begun to wane more recently.

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