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

01 May, 2024

20. Pisco Sour

The most common origin story for the Pisco Sour attributes it to American bartender Victor Vaughen Morris, sometime between his arrival in Peru in 1903 and 1916, when he opened Morris’ Bar in Lima. A recently-unearthed Peruvian cookbook from 1903 raises some questions though, containing a recipe simply titled Cocktail, calling for pisco, egg white, lime juice and sugar.

Regardless of its origins, the Pisco Sour lends itself well to variations, often created by adding different fruit, but if you’re looking beyond the classic, the Pisco Punch, with pineapple syrup and lime juice, is well worth exploring too.

19. Mai Tai

When it comes to the creation of this venerable tiki classic, there have been competing claims over the years. Among them was Victor Jules Bergeron, or Trader Vic, who said he came up with this mix of J Wray Nephew rum, lime juice, curaçao, orgeat and rock candy syrup in 1944, at his bar in Oakland. It’s here, the story goes, that it elicited a cry of  “mai tai-roa aé”, meaning, in Tahitian, “out of this world – the best”.

Among the best contemporary takes is Jeremy Oertel’s Bitter Mai Tai, bringing the classic closer to the aperitivo moment with the addition of Campari.

18. Clover Club

The Clover Club is a staple of classic cocktail lists nowadays, but it wasn’t always so. Named for the group of businessmen that used to meet at Philadelphia’s Bellevue-Stratford Hotel in the early 1900s, this combination of gin, vermouth, lemon juice, raspberry syrup and egg white enjoyed little more than a brief moment of popularity, only making a comeback recently.

A noteworthy reimagining comes from Jake Burger at The Distillery in
London. His Clover Club Fizz keeps all the main elements, although opting for fresh raspberries rather than syrup, and presents it as a long drink lengthened with soda.

17. Amaretto Sour

With a somewhat ignoble past, the crowd-pleasing Amaretto Sour, around since the mid-’70s, has reformed in recent years. Gone, mostly, are the days of sour mix, and before that little more than a combination of Amaretto and lemon juice. Taking inspiration from the Whiskey Sour, the drink is much improved, deserving of its spot on this list, up six places from last year.

A revamped version from 2012, by Portland bartender Jeffrey Morgenthaler, is largely responsible for the Amaretto Sour’s resurgence. Morgenthaler’s grown-up take on the classic combines Amaretto with cask-strength bourbon, lemon juice, sugar syrup and egg white.

16. Americano

The proud parent to the number one cocktail on this list for three years running, the Americano is certainly deserving of its place among the classics, and on modern cocktail lists too. Likely named after Americans visiting Italy during Prohibition, the drink itself was around for much longer, probably invented in the 1860s at Gaspare Campari’s bar.

As the Negroni proves, this is a great starting point for creating other excellent drinks. Michael McIlroy’s Rome With a View is one such cocktail, created in 2008 at, you guessed it, Milk & Honey. It shares the original’s Campari and soda, adding dry vermouth, lime juice and sugar.

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