The World's 50 Best Selling Classic Cocktails 2015

17 April, 2015

30: Caipirinha

What effect Brand Brazil has had on the Caipirinha finding a place in our list is hard to tell. The World Cup (and Olympics in 2018) isn’t likely to be plastered to walls of The World’s 50 Best Bars. But that doesn’t mean last summer didn’t put punters in the mood for cachaça and lime. It’s a drink to be enjoyed as the Brazilians do – strong with lots of cachaça and limes. Muddle using a strong glass to avoid a third ingredient.

29: Amaretto Sour

One of the original sweet and sour drinks, the almondy Amaretto Sour is as approachable a cocktail as you are likely to find, even for those with nut allergies (brand leader Disaronno has no nuts – though probably wise to check labels). Approachable is not always a plus for bartenders, so modern twists are sometimes spiked with spirit, perhaps bourbon, for body or have their sweet amaretto liqueur component turned down a notch. In its original form, it is two shots of amaretto, lemon juice and egg white but the optional Angostura bitters offers the balance the drink needs without breaking all the rules.

28: White lady

While earlier versions are claimed, the American Bar (number eight in The World’s 50 Best Bars) has the most complete story. It was apparently made by Harry Craddock for F Scott Fitzgerald’s wife Zelda, on account of her platinum-white hair. Today people of all hair colours get their lips around the White Lady (the drink), not least in the world’s best bars. It is a simple drink of gin, triple sec and lemon juice, though others embellish with egg white. One of our polled bars said it sells more of these than any other classic.

27: Painkiller

More a pain-delayer than painkiller, this cocktail is trademarked by Pusser’s rum. It became the popular treat of the six-seat beach bar on the British Virgin Islands, the Soggy Dollar Bar that seafarers would swim to for refreshment. The bar serving the rum, coconut cream, pineapple and orange juice drink would happily take sodden money for its creation, but the cocktail would only delay the pain of having to swim home – possibly drunk.

26: Tom Collins

Essentially alcoholic lemonade, the Tom Collins is probably the most refreshing drink around. Traditionalists reckon Old Tom gin is the one to use here, but most will hit the speed rail gins. The Old Tom version may be the original but this is a drink that has procreated – now the Collins family includes the Pedro Collins (rum), Pepito Collins (tequila), Colonel Collins (bourbon) and Captain Collins (Canadian whisky). Tanqueray, Beefeater and Hayman’s are the most popular choices for this gin-lemon combination but really the hero here is the humble lemon. Get good ones.

25: French 75

In the same way the British, not the French, were the first to make sparkling wine, they also might have been first to make the French 75. No matter, this drink was popularised in Paris in the ’20s and most attribute its rise to Harry’s American Bar. Today this London dry gin, lemon juice, sugar and champagne drink is still popular, not least among the world’s top bars. In three bars we polled, it is the number one classic they serve. 

24: Penicillin

Penicillin is widely seen as one of the greatest discoveries to benefit the health of mankind. In cocktail form it is probably not. Though it is nice to see a drink invented by World’s 50 Best Bars bartender Sam Ross confirmed as having classic status. The ex-Milk & Honey and now Attaboy owner, Ross used blended scotch, lemon juice, honey-ginger syrup, Islay scotch and garnished with candied ginger. Credit where credit’s due, the Penicillin’s smokey, honeyed flavours do having something of the medicinal about them.

23: Espresso Martini

Famously first made by Dick Bradsell at Soho Brasserie in 1983, the Espresso Martini’s invention was at the behest of a customer who wanted a drink that would “wake her up and fuck her up”. To this day there is no better classic to arouse and dull the senses in one hit. This after-dinner cocktail of espresso coffee, vodka and coffee liqueur is served in a Martini glass but bears little resemblance to the original Martini. It is mixed en masse in 10 of our 73 polled bars.

22: Cosmopolitan

There was a time when bartenders would openly admit to hating the Cosmo. Many still do but don’t say so quite so much. That’s probably because we are passing through the moody mixologist years – the bartender is back. In a few years, once Sex and the City is a distant memory for today’s Cosmo- lovers, this modern classic will likely resurface as some sort of ironic ’90s memorial. For now it is the 22nd most likely order in The World’s 50 Best Bars.

21: Pisco Sour

If there is agreement between Peruvians and Chileans on anything, it is that the Pisco Sour is the classic cocktail. Consensus will not be reached on the drink’s preferred spirit though, the birthplace of which continues to rankle those on both sides of the border. This drink was an early explorer, finding its way to the dock of the San Francisco bay in the 1930s and to New York in the 1960s. With Peruvian food now a fixture internationally, the Pisco Sour is in renaissance. In some ways it is camouflage to what can be a complex spirit (particularly Peruvian pisco), but nonetheless this is the limey cocktail that brought pisco its limelight.

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