The bestselling classic cocktails at the world's best bars 2024

01 May, 2024

25. French 75

You wouldn’t know, looking at this elegant, champagne-based cocktail, that it’s named in honour of a World War I field gun, the Matériel de 75mm Mle 1897. You might also not know, given how harmoniously gin contributes towards the flavour profile of this celebratory beverage, that it was once made with applejack, or calvados, and included anything from grenadine to absinthe.

London’s Three Sheets makes one of the finest contemporary takes on this classic, which includes gin, dry Moscato wine, lemon juice, verjus, orange flower water and sugar syrup. This is clarified, carbonated and bottled, ready to serve.

24. Gin Fizz

Proving its classic status by sheer longevity alone, the Gin Fizz dates back to the mid-1800s. But this is a classic by nature too – a timeless cocktail and originator of other classics in turn. Jerry Thomas, author of likely the first ever cocktail recipe book, called for Holland gin, lemon juice, sugar and soda water, although today many include egg white too.

One version, the Ramos, deserves particular mention, with additional cream and orange flower water, and history dating back to around 1888. Despite a reputation for being notoriously labour-intensive to make, it continues to appear on modern cocktail lists in various forms.

23. Zombie

Notorious for its booziness, this tiki classic continues to walk the earth, with little regard for contemporary mindful drinking trends. Its legendary potency is such that at Don the Beachcomber, where the Zombie was invented, customers were limited to a maximum of two. It was here, in the 1930s, that Don Beach came up with this enduring mix of falernum, various fruit juices and a vast amount of rum.

The Zombie is open to interpretation, and comes in many forms – a feature of most tiki staples, but also a consequence of the original Don Beach recipe being a well-kept secret.

22. Boulevardier

It might look like a twist on the Negroni, but the Boulevardier emerged independently, in 1920s Paris. It’s thought to be the invention of socialite Erskine Gwynne, editor at the time of Paris magazine The Boulevardier. Gwynne gets credit in bartender Harry McElhone’s 1927 book Barflies and Cocktails, which calls for equal parts of whiskey, Campari and sweet vermouth. 

That same book includes a similar drink, the Old Pal, with rye, Campari and dry vermouth. Nowadays, the Boulevardier is either served up or on the rocks, often with a larger proportion of whiskey, and with rye sometimes replacing bourbon.

21. Last Word

The timeless, transcendent Last Word, combining gin, Green Chartreuse, maraschino liqueur and lime juice, is well over 100 years old, but has languished in obscurity for much of that time. Likely created at the Detroit Athletic Club, it was championed by vaudeville actor Frank Fogarty after he visited the club in 1916, but we have bartender Murray Stenson to thank for its modern-day revival in the early 2000s.

The Last Word has spawned many accomplished variations, among them the Paper Plane, from prolific modern-classic creator Sam Ross. His twist replaces all four of the original’s ingredients, combining bourbon, amaro, Aperol and lemon juice.

Digital Edition

Drinks International digital edition is available ahead of the printed magazine. Don’t miss out, make sure you subscribe today to access the digital edition and all archived editions of Drinks International as part of your subscription.


La'Mel Clarke

Service isn’t servitude: the skill of hosting

La’Mel Clarke, front of house at London’s Seed Library, looks at the forgotten art of hosting and why it deserves the same respect as bartending.