Brands Report: Brands in Cocktails

31 January, 2018

What are the top choices when it comes to making the classics? Hamish Smith reveals our poll’s favourites

So, we know what brands sell best, but do some brands perform better than others for classic cocktails? Here’s our rundown of the brands that are best in classic cocktails.


It would make sense that the top three American whiskies would also be the top three to use in the number one whiskey cocktail – and so it is. In just under a third of cases, Bulleit was named the top choice for the Old Fashioned. Woodford Reserve came in second with just over a fifth of bars making it their preference, while Maker’s Mark was the pick in 18% of bars. The chasing pack is a way off, but Michter’s looks the most likely to close the gap.


For most bartenders, Manhattans mean rye, which in the world’s best bars tends to mean Rittenhouse. The Heaven Hill-owned classic rye steals top spot with just over 30% of the sample vouching for its suitability in this classic. Rye appears to be one area that Bulleit hasn’t yet dominated – perhaps down to the fact it was only rolled out globally in early 2014. Still, it’s making headway and is the top choice in 20% of bars we polled. Woodford Reserve came in third, a little ahead of Maker’s Mark, with an advocacy share of 14%.


It’s the cognac houses that are preferred when it comes to the old classic Brandy Julep. The go-to in 29% of bars polled is Hennessy, with Pierre Ferrand trailing on 25%. Rémy Martin is a distant third with 19% share of the vote, but is way ahead of Martell on 12%. Courvoisier is nowhere to be seen.


It’s a dead heat at the top of this list. Hennessy and Pierre Ferrand share the one-two with 27% of advocacy each – we give the nod to the driver of last year’s Sidecar, Hennessy.

Third, as with the Brandy Julep, is Rémy Martin with 22% of bars making it their preference.


It’s interesting that Plantation is named as the best-selling rum by bartenders but the brand comes third to Bacardí and Havana Club in the battleground of the Daiquiri. It’s almost as if these two groups fight to be listed in the classic cocktails. This year Bacardí was the preference in the Daiquiri in 35% of bars, 26% said Havana Club and 19% Plantation.


For years this cocktail has seen a skirmish between Bacardí and Havana Club – essentially the brand that is on Mojito duty is on house pour. This year there was only one winner – 39% of bars polled said they opted for Bacardí for their Mojitos, 28% said Havana Club and 17% said Plantation.


Somewhere along the line Tanqueray pulled away from Beefeater in this report. The Diageo brand was the choice for the Negroni in 38% of bars, while the Pernod Ricard gin was just 22%. Third, as ever when it comes to the question of gin brands found in the Negroni, is Bombay Sapphire, this year with a 14% share.


So, the same gin top three as the Negroni? Actually no. While Tanqueray is the winner with 33% and Beefeater second with 14%, Plymouth has made the podium ahead of Bombay Sapphire. It is the number one choice in 10% of bars, which is quite a considerable chunk for the group’s secondary brand. It goes to show bartenders are rather more picky about what they put in their Dry Martinis.

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