Best Classic Cocktail (2014)


Readers had a new reason to enjoy happy hour over the last four weeks: research!  They let us know which of our nominees is on their list of favorite classic cocktails, with the refreshing mojito taking top honors.

  • Mojito


    The word ‘Mojito’ is Spanish for ‘something wet’. A daytime-friendly classic, the Mojito is the ultimate refreshing summer favorite and a favorite in Cubano-rich communities like Miami. It’s traditionally made using muddled sugar and fresh mint leaves and a good glug of white rum, then topped with club soda.  The mojito was invented at La Bodeguita del Medio in Havana, Cuba where Ernest Hemingway (a lover of all things rum) enjoyed them regularly.
    Photo courtesy of Liv Friis-Larsen/iStock

  • Margarita


    Nothing says 'escape' like the cocktail immortalized by Jimmy Buffett's infamous song, which has since spawned a whole subculture. Margaritas are a staple in Florida, but brighten up many an attitude with their arrival, no matter where they're served. Typically made with tequila, an orange-flavored liqueur, and lime juice, the margarita also gets a salted rim.  It can be frozen or served on the rocks, and always brings a smile.  Variations abound.
    Photo courtesy of BlueOrange Studio/iStock

  • Bloody Mary

    Bloody Mary

    Deemed a “savage combination of tomato juice and vodka” by master bartender Jack Townsend half a century ago, the Bloody Mary is a brunch favorite but also a fail-safe ‘hair of the dog’ hangover cure. Usually spiced with flavorings such as Worcestershire sauce, Tabasco, horseradish, celery, salt, cayenne pepper and lemon, this savory cocktail can be made in a variety of ways, and is low in calories and high in antioxidents. No one is sure quite which New York bar it was first made in but it’s synonymous with the ‘Jazz age’ and has become a popular tipple again following Great Gatsby mania in 2013.
    Photo courtesy of Sophie Asselin/iStock

  • Sazerac


    The official cocktail of the city of New Orleans - the Sazerac - is said to have been created by a creole apothecary in the French Quarter in the early 19th Century. Antoine Amadie Peychaud, who also created Peychaud’s Bitters, concocted a heady combination of absinthe, rye whiskey, bitters and sugar.  It’s a favorite cocktail for bartenders and anyone serious about his or her drinking.   The official cocktail of the city of New Orleans the Sazerac is said to have been created by a creole apothecary, Antoine Amadie Peychaud (who also created Peychaud’s Bitters), in the French Quarter in the early 19th Century. A Sazerac is a heady combination of absinthe, rye whiskey, Peychaud’s bitters and sugar. It’s a favorite cocktail for bartenders and anyone who’s serious about drinking.
    Photo courtesy of martiapunts/iStock

  • Cosmopolitan


    We’ve got Carrie Bradshaw and the Sex and The City girls to thank for the popularity of this vodka, cranberry, triple sec and lime concoction. No one is quite sure where the ‘cosmo’ came from but it certainly ended in New York. Being served in a martini glass, it’s often mistaken for being a part of the martini family but that’s actually more just for the sexy look of this flirty pink number.
    Photo courtesy of Nurhan Fahridinov MUSTAFOV/iStock

  • Manhattan


    Rye whiskey, Italian vermouth and Angostura bitters with a twist or maraschino cherry are the typical ingredients in a Manhattan.  And a ‘Perfect’ Manhattan isn’t referring to one that is made well, it’s half Italian vermouth and half French. Some try and sneak in Bourbon instead of Rye, but don’t: it will be far too sweet. Said to have first been made at the Manhattan Club in 1874, this cocktail's immortality is the perfect harmony between its ingredients. It helps that nothing says ‘sexy’ like sitting at a candlelit bar and ordering a Perfect Manhattan.
    Photo courtesy of gimletup/iStock

  • Vodka Martini

    Vodka Martini

    Vodka lovers can thank James Bond, or rather Ian Fleming, for turning the Gin world on its head and bringing the Vodka Martini to the forefront of cocktail world for a decade or so. Most order theirs ‘dry’, (without any vermouth), and some like them dirty (with a good slosh of olive brine). The Four Seasons New York serves theirs with a little extra chill - a personal mini shaker on ice.
    Photo courtesy of Ulrich Schade/iStock

  • Gin & Tonic

    Gin & Tonic

    This classic was invented in India to fight off Malaria, but is now a firm global favorite. G&T is clean, refreshing and simple; it’s so easy to make but many bartenders say they judge a good bar by their Gin and Tonics. The beauty of this particular cocktail is that you can use different variants of gin, tonic and garnish, like swapping lemon for rosemary, to create completely different drinks each time.
    Photo courtesy of Peter Kim/iStock

  • Old Fashioned

    Old Fashioned

    The Old Fashioned dates back to the early 1800s and is associated with the first documented use of the word ‘cocktail’. Mad Men character Don Draper’s penchant for the whiskey heavy sauve-fest has given it a new lease of life. Mixed up using sugar, Angostura bitters, whiskey and garnished with lemon peel, it appeals to those who tend to know their spirits and mean business.
    Photo courtesy of martiapunts/iStock

  • Bourbon & Coke

    Bourbon & Coke

    Sounds like a pretty obvious combination, but someone had to think of it first, right? Highballs first rose in popularity during America’s prohibition period, where soda and juice were added to spirits to disguise the alcohol.  Whiskey pairs well with the caramel flavours of Coke, and it’s a pretty safe drink to order in almost any drinking establishment. It’s also a gateway drink to whiskey appreciation.  
    Photo courtesy of Maxim Shebeko/iStock

Margarita beat out its competitors to finish in second place, followed by Bloody Mary in third.

The full list of winners for 'Best Classic Cocktail' is as follows:

  1. Mojito
  2. Margarita
  3. Bloody Mary
  4. Sazerac
  5. Cosmopolitan
  6. Manhattan
  7. Vodka Martini
  8. Gin & Tonic
  9. Old Fashioned
  10. Bourbon & Coke

Congrats to the winners!

When you're unsure of what to order during an evening out, remember that any of the winning drinks would make an excellent choice.

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