DI Annual Bar Report: Brands in Cocktails

13 February, 2017

What brands are favoured by the world’s best bars in classic cocktails? Hamish Smith shares our poll’s results

So now we know what brands sell best in the world’s best bars, but let’s drill down. Are there certain brands for certain cocktails? We picked out some classics and asked our sample of bartenders to tell us what they put in them.


The purists will lean to rye in their Manhattans, but some go for bourbon. Either way, the brand 32% of our bartenders for a Manhattan was Bulleit. Rittenhouse is a favourite in the rye stakes and 23% of our sample made it their number one for this cocktail, while Maker’s Mark (12%) was just a little more popular for the Manhattan than Woodford Reserve (11%).


This American whiskey-cognac mix was always going to throw up a blend of brands across the two categories. The brands used most are the largest cognac house Hennessy (said 21% of our bars), the smaller but bar industry favourite Pierre Ferrand (17%) and Diageo’s bourbon, Bulliet (13%).


The Brandy Julep might as well be called the Cognac Julep, such is the popularity of the French region’s brand among our polled bars. Gosh was it close. 28% of polled bars said Pierre Ferrand, 26% Hennessy and 25% Rémy Martin. Martell came in fourth with 14% of bartenders saying they work with it in their Juleps.


Here’s a fun cocktail you are unlikely to drink in Cognac… but more than likely has cognac in it. The Corpse Reviver is best made with either Hennessy (said 28% of bars), Pierre Ferrand (25%) or Rémy Martin (21%), according to our sample of the world’s best bars.


The Sidecar is perhaps the most famous brandy cocktail and at the world’s best bars 31% of bartenders polled put Hennessy in the driving seat. Pierre Ferrand was the choice in 26% of bars and Rémy Martin

in 17%.


The Daiquiri is a hallowed cocktail among top bartenders, so it’s a big win for Bacardi to see it is its rum that our sample of bars chooses most. 35% said Bacardi, while Havana Club was the choice at 30% of those polled. Plantation may not have Cuban heritage but many bartenders say it makes a great Daiquiri – 15% in the case of our polled bars.


The Mojito is perhaps not a favourite of elite bartenders but it is a popular drink among customers. 34% of our 100 bars give the drink the Bacardi treatment, 29% say Havana Club, while 17% go for the less authentic option of Plantation.


If the Daiquri and Mojito call for a lighter style, the Rum Old Fashioned requires a heavyweight. Our bars are more likely to opt for Zacapa than any other brand. 27% went for the Guatemalan brand, while 13% said the Venezuelan Diplomatico, and 12% Guyana’s demerara style, El Dorado.


This tropical drink was first made with Jamaican rum at Trader Vic’s so it’s no surprise to see Appleton take top spot – 24% of our sample said they were exponents of the Gruppo Campari brand, while 19% opted for Plantation and 10% Bacardi.


It’s a clear one-two-three for the big brands of gin, with Tanqueray the choice for the Negroni in a huge 38% of our polled bars. Beefeater was second with 24% attesting to its suitability, while Bombay Sapphire accounted for 14%. Closest of the chasing pack was Ford’s gin.


The ultimate test of any gin is the nowhere-to-hide Martini glass. Our polled bartenders again stayed true to their pouring deals, with 28% saying Tanqueray, 21% Beefeater and 12% Bombay Sapphire. Ford’s once again was the gin that got closest to breaking the big three’s domination.

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.