The World’s Best-Selling Classic Cocktails 2019

04 January, 2019

When it comes to the bestsellers, the roster of classic cocktails is subject to the vagaries of fashion in tastes. Angel Brown rounds up this year’s top 50

In the fast paced world of the global bar industry, we see many trends come and go. But one thing seems to remains the same: The classic cocktail. One might ask what defines a classic. Well let’s just say that’s up for debate. But since the Bellini, Aperol Spritz and Dark ‘n’ Stormy received votes from some of the 127 global bars polled we cannot ignore their place on The World’s Best Selling Classics list. So how do we figure out which classics make the cut? Bartenders among the world’s best bars are asked to rank their 10 best-selling classics, which then get weighted and ranked accordingly. This year remains largely the same for the firm favourites but as ever we see, with growth in popularity and rejuvenation of old recipes, some cocktails ascending or re-entering the list.


50. White Russian

Forget the Black Russian – it seems the world’s best bars prefer the addition of cream. Coming in at a poor 50 is the White Russian, not nearly as popular as it was in the ’90s after the release of the film The Big Lebowski. Somehow this vodka and coffee liqueur cocktail has managed to creep back into the list this year – we can only guess it’s because coffee is on-trend.

49. Bellini

Not your conventional cocktail, with only two ingredients the Bellini is an inbetweener. Invented by Giuseppe Cipriani, founder of Harry’s Bar in Venice, this peachy number started off as seasonal, but eventually became a permanent fixture on the menu in both Venice and New York. This year only 3% of bartenders put it in their top 10 cocktails. It wouldn’t be a surprise if the Bellini dropped off next year.

48. Champagne Cocktail

Champagne doesn’t have to be drunk on its own. Down 19 is the Champagne Cocktail, just holding on to its spot in the list at 48. The first suggestion of using brandy or cognac with champagne was in Jerry Thomas’ Bon Vivants Companion in 1862; Harry Johnson then added fruit to the cocktail. It seems the Champagne Cocktail just can’t compete with the favourite here, French 75.

47. Irish Coffee

Emerging in the list at 47 is the Irish Coffee. This hot cocktail is thought to have been created by Joe Sheridan, the head chef of Foynes Flying Boat terminal, Ireland. He was asked to make something that would warm passengers and the Irish Coffee was born. For a mean Irish Coffee try Dead Rabbit’s recipe: 1½ parts Bushmills Original Irish whiskey, ¾ parts demerara syrup, four parts hot brewed coffee and heavy cream, lightly whipped.

46. Bamboo

After a resurgence of sherry it’s no wonder the Bamboo has made a reappearance in the list this year. The stories behind the origins of this cocktail are quite conflicting, from songs about bamboo to bartenders in Japan, but nobody really knows. Nonetheless, if you’re into sherry this one’s for you – 1½ parts sherry, 1½ parts dry vermouth, two dashes Angostura bitters, two dashes orange bitters.

45. Gin Gin Mule

The Gin Gin Mule is a crossbreed of the Moscow Mule and Mojito but with gin instead. Audrey Saunders, owner of Pegu Club, made this cocktail in the year 2000 and 19 years later it features in our list, one of a very few modernday classics that made it. It’s safe to say The Gin Gin Mule laid down an early marker for gin and entering back into the list in 2019 proves it had staying power.

44. Long Island Iced Tea

Your eyes are not deceiving you – the Long Island Iced Tea is back again, and up five places from 2017. We don’t actually know who made this concoction. One claim is by Robert ‘Rosebud’ Butt who worked at the Oak Beach Inn, Long Island. While we don’t understand why anyone would want to claim it, out of the bars polled just over 4% put it in their top 10 – quite a brave move.

43. Vesper

Vesper is up 10 places this year to number 43. The gin and vodka Martini is named after the fictional character Vesper Lynd in the Bond novel Casino Royale. The creator is, unusually, not a bartender, but author of the Bond novels Ian Fleming. In the book he calls for: “Three measures of Gordon’s; one of vodka; half a measure of Kina Lillet. Shake it over ice, and add a thin slice of lemon peel. Got it?” – Yep.

42. Caipirinha

Brazil’s national cocktail, Caipirinha is up two places to 42. Although the origins of this drink are unknown, one story says it was created in Portugal, with a popular variation being used for Spanish Flu patients. In recent years the availability of high-quality cachaça has increased outside of Brazil and this could be one of the reasons for Caipirinha’s appearance on this list.

41. Tom Collins

“Have you seen Tom Collins?” the hoax of 1874 might be long gone, but Tom Collins the classic cocktail isn’t. Still on the list but down 16 places, it could be losing its popularity. This citrusy cocktail is traditionally made with gin but maybe it’s time to switch up the original. Try Tom Collins’ Mexican cousin, Juan for example.

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