The World's Best-Selling Classic Cocktails 2022

07 January, 2022

19 Mai Tai

When Trader Vic’s brand of Polynesian restaurants globally proliferated, so did founder Victor Jules Bergeron’s Mai Tai, which years on is still a presence in bars globally (18% make it as part of their top-10 repetoire) – and possibly even in Polynesia. As a bastion of tropical culture this rum, orgeat, orange liqueur and lime cocktail is a kitsch classic loved by bartenders in flowery shirts and people who wish they were somewhere warmer.

18 Gimlet

This gin-lime cocktail has quite the story. Swiftly speaking: lime juice protected the British navy against scurvy, alcohol against mutiny. The two came together in wondrous alchemy – though in the upper decks, officers drank gin, which made it a Gimlet. When sugar was found to preserve lime juice, Rose’s lime cordial was born and this was mixed 50-50 with gin. These days, you’re more likely to find Gimlets made from fresh lime and sugar syrup because, well, they’re better. Down a few places but still in our top 20, The Gimlet is a top-10 classic in 19% of polled bars.

17 French 75

Up four places, the French 75 was created by Harry MacElhone in what became Harry’s New York Bar in Paris, documented by The Savoy Cocktail Book and popularised in the Stork Club, New York. Its adopted home is Arnaud’s in New Orleans, but there is an excellent rendition at Three Sheets in London. Our sample of bars suggest Bombay,  Tanqueray or Beefeater gin, but over at Arnaud’s in New Orleans the French 75 is made even Frencher with the use of cognac. 

16 Americano

The Americano is a sort of sensible Negroni – and if legend is correct, predated it. Simply sub the gin for soda in your Negroni spec and you have it – the Americano, or, as was once known, the Milano-Torino. It’s up nine places in our ranking, with a fifth of bars suggesting it was part of their top-10 repertoire.

15 Bloody Mary

This tomato and vodka classic is not for everyone – particularly those who like their tomatoes hot – but does allow for acceptable morning drinking, responsibly.  It is among the top-10 selling classics in just over a fifth of polled bars. If you are in crawling distance of the current world’s best bar – Connaught Bar in London – its Bloody Mary is the best you’ll ever try. It’ll even turn those who don’t like them.

14 Paloma

In essence this is a two-piece cocktail, with grapefruit soda and tequila. With that simple marriage alone, the Paloma sings like a bird, but bartenders do like to take things up a notch. With freshly squeezed grapefruit, lime juice and agave syrup, topped with grapefruit soda, it really takes flight. The Paloma continues to scale our league of classics and this year is up eight places and a top-10 classic in just under a quarter of bars.

13 Penicillin

Invented by Attaboy owner Sam Ross, the Penicillin is a neo-classic made throughout the world. Combining scotch, lemon, honey-ginger syrup and peated scotch, it was a top-10 classic in just under a quarter of polled bars.  It says a lot that this is the highest-placed scotch classic – ahead of the Bobby Burns in 44th and Blood & Sand in 47th. One wonders whether the scotch industry realises how indebted it is to the Penicillin’s Australian creator. Probably not.

12 Boulevardier

Up six places, the Boulevardier is a Negroni with bourbon and created by Erskine Gwynne, an American writer in the 1920s, who named it after his Parisian monthly magazine. The Boulevardier is still on the regular roll call in almost a quarter of our polled bars. Say it softly and check who is listening, but this might be an improvement on the Negroni.

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