The World's 50 Best Selling Classic Cocktails 2015

17 April, 2015

40: Rob Roy

The Rob Roy is a Manhattan in tartan. The scotch offers a bit more muscle to proceedings 
and, in tandem with the Angostura bitters, pulls up its kilt to the sweet vermouth. Bartenders often use a scotch with peat, for a bit more fight. But the standard recipe, from the Waldorf in 1894, just asks for blended scotch. Only five of our polled bars said this was among their 10 best selling classics. That seems low, but scotch always loses out to American whiskey when it comes to classics.    

39: Vesper

Against the might of mothership Dry Martini, the Vesper plays a supporting role. Most bartenders we’ve spoken to say its story is great, the drink less so. That said, at number 39, this vodka-gin-Lillet Martini pulls a chord for some punters, particularly those who like scooters and James Bond. And so to the tale – how tall it is, is anyone’s guess. Invented at Martini bar Duke’s in London for Ian Flemming, the Vesper found its way into the 1953 James Bond flick Casino Royal. It was named mid-film when Bond – looking to patent his cocktail invention – meets beautiful bitch Vesper Lynd. In the end Vesper dies, while the drink is alive and kicking.

38: Bellini

It has been said the Bellini is a cocktail for those who can’t quite bring themselves to drink cocktails. Yet it is a refreshing sweet drink, and if made properly can be unchallenging fun. In Italy peach-marinated wine is a traditional thing, at least while peaches are in season, so the Bellini draws on this combination, though not always with fresh peaches. Named after the Italian painter who used splashes of pink in his work, this drink should be made with prosseco, not its drier foes cava and champagne.

37: Gin Gin Mule

Credited to Audrey Saunders at New York cocktail Mecca Pegu Club, the Gin Gin Mule is a modern classic. The gin gin is down to the ginger and gin, not a double helping of gin, though as the only alcohol in the recipe, two shots will be necessary. Known in other parts as the Ginger Rogers, the Gin Gin Mule is closely related to the Moscow Mule – but with superior kick from muddled ginger. 

36: Hanky Panky

The Hanky Panky was invented by Ada Coleman at the Savoy’s American Bar. Coleman (or Coley as her friends called her – we didn’t know her so we’ll stick to formalities) tells the story of how she invented the drink for actor Charles Hawtrey (star of the British Carry On films of the ’60s and early ’70s), one of the “best cocktail judges” she knew. She said: “He sipped it and, draining the glass, he said, ‘By Jove! That is the real hanky-panky!’ And Hanky Panky it has been called ever since.” Hanky Pankys are still driving posh men to exclamation a hundred years on at The American Bar, where it has become a must-drink, no matter how bored Erik Lorincz must be of mixing gin, Fernet Branca and vermouth.

35: El Diablo

Not a lot is known about El Diablo, but its first cocktail book mentions seem to cluster around the 1940s. It was also a drink on the menu of Trader Vic’s. We can tell you El Diablo, which is sometimes called Mexican Diablo, means ‘the devil’ and is a devilish mix of tequila, crème de cassis, lime and ginger beer. At The World’s 50 Best Bars it endures, at least in a handful of bars anyway, so the big flavours that might appear to clash are obviously working in perfect harmony for some.

34: Bramble

This one is from Dick Bradsell; he first made the Bramble at Fred’s Club in Soho. Not many drinks survived the 1980s but this blackcurrant liqueur, gin, lemon juice and sugar number is still a favourite. Edinburgh cocktail spot and World’s 50 Best Bars stalwart Bramble bar is named after it and in its rendition of the drink opts for Merlet Crème de Mures. If you don’t have blackberry liqueur, or blackberries, that’s fine. Don’t make a Bramble.

33: Blood & Sand

With one of the best names in the cocktail recipe book – and there have been a few – this drink was first made in 1922 and was inspired by the eponymous film. Fast forward 93 years and it’s still going strong with a cluster of top bars telling us it is among their top 10 best selling classics. It is also scotch’s first single-occupancy drink in this list after 30 cocktail mentions. Mixed with scotch, cherry brandy (the blood), sweet vermouth, and orange juice (the sand) this drink is possibly a little sweet for more discerning palates.

32: Vodka Martini

For those times when you run out of gin, there is the Vodka Martini. That’s a little harsh on vodka, but bartenders at the W50BB tend to be in the gin camp when it comes to Martinis. Also referred to as the Kangaroo and Vodkatini, the vodka of choice here is arguably as important as for any other cocktail. With only a little dry vermouth to cover the spirit’s modesty, it’s important to use something with muscle. At the World’s 50 Best Bars, Ketel One, Belvedere and Grey Goose are the ones that look good naked.

31: Brandy Crusta

This drink is old – but not crusty. Invented by Joseph Santina (it’s alleged) in the mid-19th century, it is cognac, triple sec, maraschino, lemon juice, sugar syrup and bitters with water. To look at, it could be any cocktail– until the half lemon is conspicuously wedged into the top of the glass, acting as a bitter filter for its sugary contents. The Crusta, it turns out, is named after the sugar-crusted rim. 

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