The World’s Best-Selling Classic Cocktails 2018

31 January, 2018

20. Dark ’n’ Stormy

This is the most likely thing to drink in Bermuda (that and the Rum Swizzle) and the 20th most likely in the world’s best bars – it’s a top-10 classic in 17% of our polled bars. How did this drink come about? To cut a story’s length, British seafarers brought the ginger beer, Goslings the rum. Add lime and there you have it, the Dark ’n’ Stormy – worthy of any bloke with a beard and tatts, on or off land.

19. Pisco Sour

So much of pisco sales rely on the fortunes of the Pisco Sour – this year down one from 18th. This cocktail was an early explorer, finding its way to the dock of San Francisco bay in the 1930s and wasting little time before rising to popularity in New York in the 1960s. With Peruvian food now a fixture internationally, this limey cocktail is back in the limelight. 17% of bars named the Pisco Sour a top 10 classic cocktail.

18. Mai Tai

The Mai Tai is down seven this year. As a bastion of tropical culture the Mai Tai has been swept along by the tiki revival and come ashore in many of the world’s best bars. A fifth of bars had it in their bar’s top ten but mostly this is part of the support act rather than a volume protagonist. A kitsch classic loved by bartenders in their less serious moments.

17. Vieux Carre

Named after New Orleans’ French quarter, this Manhattan-esque classic returns this year with 17% of polled bars naming it among their top 10. It was invented by Walter Bergeron, head bartender at the now Monteleone hotel bar in New Orleans, which is home to all manner of activity during Tales of the Cocktail – not least its revolving bar. Have a Vieux Carre there but don’t have too many – alone brandy, American whiskey, sweet vermouth, Benedictine, Angostura and Peychauds are enough to put you in a spin.

16. Gin Fizz

Up from 23 last year, the Gin Fizz has regained its sparkle. 17% of the world’s best bars have attested to its selling prowess and it’s a classic that remains popular globally. It’s gin, lime or lemon, sugar, egg (optional) and soda. This is more of a blank canvas drink, yearning for embellishment, but in the right setting, at the right time, it’s hits the right notes.

15. Penicillin

This medicinal mix is the highest-placed present-century classic. Breaking the mould, the Penicillin is our first scotch cocktail and comes courtesy of Sam Ross, ex-Milk & Honey bartender and now Attaboy co-owner. It uses blended scotch, lemon juice, honey-ginger syrup and Islay scotch and is garnished with candied ginger. As the years slip by, it seems to gain in popularity in this classics list – it’s up four this year. A legacy drink without the competition.

14. Bloody Mary

Bringing much to the morning economy is the Bloody Mary. As long as there are hangovers, here is a drink that will never go out of fashion. It is among the top 10-selling classics in more than a quarter of bars we polled. If you are in reach of the Connaught and in need of a Bloody Mary, go there – they do the best ones. Ago Perrone uses Ketel One vodka, fresh tomato juice, a homemade spice mix, fresh lemon juice and celery air.

13. Sazerac

Dropping three places is the Sazerac. This boozy classic remains a stalwart, with 28% of polled bars saying it was among their top 10. Purists use cognac and so did bartenders in the 1850s, until phylloxera ravaged French vineyards and the American Civil War made the sourcing of cognac something of a triviality. It was replaced by whiskey and many today prefer the double booze hit to be propelled by the grain not the grape. Rimmed with absinthe, the fumes tell you this is not a session beverage.

12. Boulevardier

Take the gin out of a Negroni and replace with American whiskey and you have a Boulevardier. While this was a popular drink back in the ’20s, more than a quarter of our polled bars had it among their top 10 repertoire. If Negroni-weariness ever sets in, the Boulevardier is well-placed as an evolution. So is it rye or bourbon? We lean towards rye, but at the Everleigh they opt for bourbon, Cocchi sweet vermouth, Campari and a cherry to garnish.

11. Aperol Spritz

Normally up around the 20th mark, the Aperol Spritz is knocking on the door of the top 10 this year. More than a third said it was in the top 10 classics they serve. The Aperol Spritz is never going to be a badge of honour for a bartender, but when they’re in the weeds, bring on the Spritz order. With wine, Aperol and soda all making friends in a glass, it is a refreshing Italian-style aperitivo perfect for the more sober occasion.

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