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

01 May, 2024

10. Moscow Mule

The Moscow Mule, in its distinctive vessel, has arguably one of the best cocktail origin stories, although whether it’s entirely true is another matter. The tale is set in 1941, in Hollywood’s Cock ’n’ Bull pub, where proprietor Jack Morgan and entrepreneur John Martin were lamenting their ailing businesses. Morgan was trying to launch a ginger beer, and Martin had recently acquired the rights to Smirnoff vodka. Enter Sophie Berezinski, struggling to shift a number of copper mugs from her father’s factory in Russia…

Today the Moscow Mule is recognised the world over, and has been subjected to its fair share of twists and modifications. Some merely replace the base spirit, while others have used it as a springboard for more elaborate creations. The Gin Gin Mule, in 50th place on this year’s list, switches out the vodka for gin, and borrows a little mint from the Mojito too.

9. Paloma

Considering the Paloma’s rise in the ranks this year, up four places, it seems a growing number are discovering what much of Mexico, Jalisco in particular, has known for some time. At its core this is a deceptively simple mixed drink of tequila and grapefruit soda, Squirt if you’re in Mexico, with contemporary versions tending to include lime juice too, and sometimes salt. Its rise in popularity has also led to more premium grapefruit sodas on the market.

Starting from such a modest, and very effective, premise, there’s room for improvisation. Parallel to the recent evolution of the Margarita, there are plenty of mezcal versions out there, and spicy ones, while some opt to deconstruct the grapefruit soda, using fresh juice instead. For a particularly fine example, stop by Nomad London’s Side Hustle, where they not only use both tequila and mezcal, but a combination of grapefruit juice and grapefruit soda too.

8. Aperol Spritz

Light and bright, low-abv and very recognisable, not to mention highly Instagrammable, the Aperol Spritz took the world by storm about a decade ago. It neatly dovetailed with a number of drinking trends – such as moderation and a desire for lighter flavours – that are just as prevalent today. 

The drink’s headline ingredient was created by brothers Luigi and Silvio Barbieri and presented to the Padua International Fair in 1919. Its signature serve – three parts prosecco, two parts Aperol and one part soda – came later, in the ’50s, according to the brand.

But the Spritz was around before that, and in the same way it provided the perfect template for this iconic Aperol drink, it does the same for various other ingredients, such as Campari and Limoncello. The Hugo, a mid-2000s creation by bartender Roland Gruber, takes things a little further, originally combining prosecco, soda and mint with lemon balm syrup, although nowadays elderflower tends to replace the latter.

7. Dry Martini

While some classics, like the Whiskey Sour, seem to have appeared fully-formed, stubbornly unchanged over the years, others have taken their time to reach the incarnation we know today. 

The Dry Martini is certainly in the latter camp. Those first drinkers of a Martini or Martinez would’ve had sweet vermouth in their glasses rather than dry, and the spirit was likely Old Tom gin, not London Dry. A delightful drink, certainly, but a far cry from the masterclass in elegance and simplicity that is the Dry Martini we know and love.

Skipping the so-called Martinis of the ’80s, there are countless drinks that subtly adapt the fundamentals of the Dry Martini to great effect, both new and old. A recent case in point is the Glacier Martini from London bar Viajante87, with measured touches of grape and plum, served exceptionally cold, with a smoked olive – an inventive yet considered take on the classic.

6. Whiskey Sour

There were once many Sours, and indeed there still are, but none are so widely adored and enduring as the Whiskey Sour. What’s particularly remarkable is how little this classic – essentially a combination of whiskey, sugar and lemon juice – has changed over its long history. Egg white might have become a commonplace addition over the years, and the whiskey might taste a little different, but today’s versions are mostly faithful to the drink that was being made in the mid-1800s.

That’s not to say that the Whiskey Sour is without its share of riffs. For renowned contemporary takes, we need look no further than this list, with the Penicillin in 11th place this year, followed by the Amaretto Sour in 17th. 

There are other noteworthy variations too, such as the New York Sour with its red wine float, and the Gold Rush, a contemporary of the Penicillin made with bourbon, lemon juice and honey.

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.