Most Popular Cocktails in the world | Image: Man of Many

20 Most Popular Cocktails in the World

We love well-made cocktails. There are few things better than a mixed drink where all the ingredients work together like a perfectly composed symphony of flavour. Luckily, finding talented, imaginative bartenders is a common occurrence these days thanks in large part to the cocktail renaissance of the last few decades.

Mikey Enright, owner of Sydney gin and cocktail institutions of Hickson House, The Barber Shop, Duke of Clarence and Barrelhouse Cellars, is just one of those talented tradesman. The cocktail expert, gin and whisky distiller has witnessed the change in trends firsthand, with Australian drinkers cautiously leaning towards traditional flavours in recent years.

“The Margarita, Negroni and Martini are the most popular right now,” Enright explains. “As Gin distillers, we’re understandably most excited about the rise and rise of Negronis and Martinis – we serve both the classic versions and our own twists – our Gibson features house-smoked cocktail onions, and our Native Negroni uses our Wild Rosé Summer Cup for the gin and vermouth components.”

According to Enright, Australian drinkers are moving towards more premium and local craft spirits, with the drinks expert noting that the typical Australian consumer “has become quite inquisitive about flavours and premium local spirits”.

Globally, the trends appear to be the same. Trade publication Drinks International recently surveyed the most popular bars in the world, asking them to rank their most-sold cocktails. The results gave a unanimous overview of the most popular cocktails in the worldasking them to rank their most-sold cocktails. Keep scrolling to see the list of the twenty most popular cocktails in the world and learn a little bit about each one.

Most Popular Cocktails in the World

What better way to make you thirsty for classic mixed drinks, right? Don’t worry if your favourite cocktail didn’t make the list. There’s always next year.

Negroni cocktail on the rocks in a glass
Negroni | Image: Sebastian Coman

1. Negroni

  • Main alcohol: Vermouth, Campari, Gin
  • Served: On the rocks
  • Standard garnish: Orange peel

The Negroni is an interesting drink. This bittersweet before-dinner cocktail is made up of Campari, gin, and vermouth. While this aperitif is widely popular today, it’s believed to be more than 100 years old. Many say that Count Camillo Negroni requested that a bartender make his Americano more potent by swapping out soda water for gin in Florence, Italy back in 1919. 

As Enright explains, the growth of the Negroni comes after an extensive marketing push by key igredient producer Campari. The instantly recognisable colour, coupled with the unique flavour profile make the Negroni a truly stand-alone drink worthy of being named the world’s most popular cocktail.

“Campari’s Negroni Week has done a very good job of creating global awareness,” Enright says. “There must be thousands of different variations of the Negroni, but let’s face it, the classic recipe is the best.”

Ingredients:

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  • 1 oz (1 part) Campari
  • 1 oz (1 part) Gin
  • 1 oz (1 part) Sweet red Vermouth

Preparation:

  • Stir all ingredients into a glass over ice
  • Garnish and serve
Overhead shot of a glass of old fashioned on the rocks
Old Fashioned | Image: LAVA

2. Old Fashioned

  • Main alcohol: Whiskey
  • Served: On the rocks; poured over ice
  • Standard garnish: Cocktail cherry, Orange slice

When it comes to cocktail hierarchy, it’s difficult to beat the appeal of the classic Old Fashioned. This traditional drink consists of whiskey (rye or bourbon), muddled sugar (or simple syrup), bitters, and water. It’s usually garnished with a cocktail cherry or orange peel. Like many cocktails, its history is shrouded in mystery.

It’s believed to have been invented in the late 1800s with the first recipe appearing in 1895 in Modern American Drinks, a cocktail collection from bartender George Kappeler. According to Jared Plummer, brand director of Whisky Mill, the Old Fashioned whisky cocktail is so historic that it’s likely that your great-great-grandparents were happily sipping them back in the day.

“When you’re in the mood for a bonafide classic that never stops being cool, then this one is for you,” Plummer said. “A whisky cocktail as square-jawed as a bulldog but refined as a gold pocket watch, as timely as the news but as storied as the Seven Wonders, it’s the Old Fashioned you’ll make.”

Ingredients:

  • 45 ml bourbon or rye whiskey
  • 1 sugar cube
  • Angostura bitters
  • Plain water

Preparation:

  • Place sugar cube in old fashioned glass and saturate with bitters
  • Add a dash of plain water
  • Muddle until dissolved
  • Fill the glass with ice cubes and add whiskey
  • Garnish with orange slice, and a cocktail cherry
Cocktail glass of margarita with sliced lime on the rocks
Margarita | Image: Alleksana

3. Margarita

  • Main alcohol: Tequila
  • Served: On the rocks; poured over ice
  • Standard garnish: Lime slice, Salt on the rim

The Margarita is a mainstay of cocktail bars and Mexican restaurants throughout the world. It’s one of the most popular cocktails today, but some believe that its history can be traced back to 1942 when a bartender named Francisco “Pancho” Morales made the drink for a customer who requested a Magnolia cocktail. The drink consisted of brandy, Cointreau, an egg yolk, and champagne, but he didn’t know how to make it. He remembered the Cointreau and included tequila and lime juice as well.

While it may only have claimed a bronze medal in the global stakes, here in Australia, the margarita is king. A recent study by CGA’s OPUS found that Australia’s cocktail culture continued to boom in 2022 with a 28 per cent increase in the consumption of cocktails in bars and restaurants. The report suggested that Australia is now the third-largest tequila market in the same year, with the humble margarita now officially the nation’s most popular cocktail.

“Any cocktails with a sour base have room for experimentation,” Enright says. “The use of different spices, such as mountain pepper, wattleseed and bush tomato, to name just a few are great in cocktails.”

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 oz freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 2/3 oz triple sec
  • 1 2/3 oz tequila

Preparation:

  • Add all ingredients into a shaker with ice
  • Shake well
  • Strain into a chilled cocktail glass
Glass of espresso martini cocktail
Espresso Martini | Image: Marilena Baltzaki

4. Espresso Martini

  • Base spirit: Vodka
  • Served: Straight up: chilled, without ice
  • Standard garnish: 3 coffee beans

The martini, made with gin (or vodka) and dry vermouth is one of the most popular cocktails ever made. It’s simple, boozy, and available everywhere. It spawned various versions including the espresso martini. Unlike the original, there’s no vermouth or gin in this version. Instead, it’s made with espresso, coffee liqueur, and vodka.

Ingredients:

  • 50 ml vodka
  • 30 ml Kahlúa
  • 10 ml sugar syrup
  • 1 strong espresso

Preparation:

  • Pour all ingredients into cocktail shaker
  • Shake well with ice
  • Strain into chilled cocktail glass
Glass of daiquiri with lime and ice
Daiquiri | Image: BACARDÍ

5. Daiquiri

  • Main alcohol: Rum
  • Served: Straight up; without ice
  • Standard garnish: Half a lime slice

We understand if you think of fruity, frozen drinks when you envision a daquiri. But if that’s all you know, you’re missing out on a fresh, citrus-filled cocktail. That’s because the classic daiquiri, the kind Ernest Hemingway would have enjoyed, is simply made with white rum, simple syrup, and fresh lime juice. Legend has it that the drink was invented by an American mining engineer named Jennings Cox who was living in Cuba in 1898.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 oz White rum
  • 1 oz Lime juice
  • 1/2 oz Simple syrup

Preparation:

  • Pour all ingredients into shaker with ice cubes
  • Shake well
  • Strain in chilled cocktail glass.
Two glasses of dry martini cocktail served with an olive set on a grey wooden bar with dark background
Dry Martini | Image: Louise Crouch

6. Dry Martini

  • Main alcohol: Gin
  • Served: Straight (or on the rocks)
  • Standard garnish: Lemon twist, Olive

As we mentioned earlier, the classic martini recipe is simply gin or vodka and dry vermouth. It’s potent, boozy, and perfect. But apparently the dry martini is even more popular than its traditional counterpart. Simply put, a dry martini is made with less dry vermouth. In fact, many drinkers enjoy simply a splash of vermouth.

Ingredients:

  • 1/2 oz (1 part) Dry vermouth
  • 3 oz (6 parts) Gin

Preparation:

  • Pour all ingredients into mixing glass with ice cubes
  • Stir well
  • Strain in chilled martini cocktail glass
  • Squeeze oil from lemon peel onto the drink, or garnish with olive.
Two glasses of whiskey sour on the rocks with maraschino cherry and orange slice
Whiskey Sour | Image: Paul H. Christian

7. Whiskey Sour

  • Main alcohol: Whiskey, Bourbon
  • Served: Shaken; on the rocks
  • Standard garnish: Lemon rind, Maraschino cherry, Orange slice, Sugared glass

While there are disputing theories, the first mention of the whiskey sour was in a US newspaper out of Wisconsin called Waukesha Plain Dealer in 1870. This drink, that has never seemed to go out of style, consists of whiskey (usually bourbon), sugar, fresh lemon juice, and an egg white if you’re feeling adventurous.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 oz (3 parts) bourbon whiskey
  • 1 dash egg white
  • 1 oz (2 parts) Fresh lemon juice
  • 1/2 oz (1 part) Gomme syrup

Preparation:

  • Shake with ice
  • Strain into ice-filled old-fashioned glass to serve “on the rocks.”
Glass of Manhattan served with a cherry set on a dark tiled bar
Manhattan | Image: Antonis Achilleos

8. Manhattan

  • Main alcohol: Whiskey
  • Served: Straight up; without ice
  • Standard garnish: Cherry

If you’re not an avid drinker, you might have trouble differentiating between the old fashioned and Manhattan. While the old fashioned is made with whisky, sugar, water, and bitters and served in a rocks glass, the Manhattan consists of whiskey (usually rye), red vermouth, and bitters. It’s often garnished with a cocktail cherry and served in a cocktail glass. According to Whisky Mill’s Plummer, the iconic Manhattan cocktail has stood the test of time for its bold and unrelenting flavour profile.

“In the annals of cocktail-making, the Manhattan is an all-around heavyweight champion,” the whisky expert said. “It demands respect. It is brazen: a heavy pour of rye or bourbon, sweet vermouth, and aromatic bitters. It is rich, with strong flavours both spicier and sweeter. It is strong. You make it carefully, and then you sip it slowly, because it is a drink that you earn from a hard day’s work.”

Ingredients:

  • 2 oz rye or Canadian whisky
  • 3/4 oz sweet red vermouth
  • Dash Angostura bitters
  • Maraschino cherry (Garnish)

Preparation:

  • Stir ingredients over ice
  • Strain into a chilled glass
  • Garnish with Maraschino cherry and serve straight up.
Two glasses of Aperol spritz on the rocks with orange slices set on a white bar with a dark background
Aperol Spritz | Image: Blandine Joannic

9. Aperol Spritz

  • Main alcohol: Prosecco, Aperol
  • Served: On the rocks; poured over ice
  • Standard garnish: Orange Wedge

A drink that seems to gain in popularity every summer, the Aperol Spritz is an Italian aperitif made with prosecco, Aperol, and soda water. First created in 1920, this refreshing, bittersweet cocktail is the perfect pre-dinner tipple on a hot summer day. If you’ve never tried Aperol before, it’s an orange-hued Italian bitter liqueur made with various ingredients including gentian root, bitter rhubarb, and a tree bark called cinchona.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/4 oz Aperol
  • 2 oz prosecco
  • Splash of soda water

Preparation:

  • Build into glass over ice
  • Garnish and serve.
Glass of penicillin cocktail on the rocks with scotch and candied ginger set on a cloth on a wooden bar with a dark background
Penicillin | Image: Brent Hofacker

10. Penicillin

  • Main alcohol: Scotch whisky
  • Served: On the rocks: poured over ice
  • Standard garnish: Candied ginger

While many of the most popular cocktails have been mixed up for decades, penicillin is a fairly new mixed drink. This drink consisting of Scotch whisky, ginger, honey syrup, and fresh lemon juice was created by bartender Sam Ross at New York’s Milk & Honey in 2005. In the years since, it’s moved on from simply being a drink served there into one mixed up by bartenders all over the world.

Ingredients:

  • 2 ounces blended scotch
  • 3/4 ounce lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • 3/4 ounce honey-ginger syrup*
  • 1/4 ounce Islay single malt scotch

Preparation:

  • Add Scotch, lemon juice and syrup into a shaker with ice
  • Shake until well-chilled
  • Strain into a rock glass over fresh ice
  • Top with the Islay Scotch
  • Garnish with ginger
Moscow mules in copper cups on slate coasters on a wooden bar
Moscow Mule | Image: Joshua Resnick

11. Moscow Mule

  • Main alcohol: Vodka
  • Served: On the rocks; poured over ice.
  • Standard garnish: Lime wedge

Normally served in a traditional copper mug, the Moscow Mule is a spicy, sweet, refreshing cocktail made with vodka (hence the name), ginger beer, and lime juice. This popular, easy to make cocktail is served in the aforementioned mug because the metal keeps the drink colder for a longer period of time than a classic glass.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 oz vodka
  • 1/6 oz lime juice
  • 4 oz ginger beer

Preparation:

  • Combine vodka and ginger beer in a copper mug filled with ice
  • Add lime juice
  • Stir gently and garnish with a lime slice
Two Pisco Sour cocktails on a table with patterned tablecloth
Pisco Sour | Image: Peffan

12. Pisco Sour

  • Main alcohol: Pisco
  • Served: Straight up; without ice
  • Standard garnish: Angostura bitters

If your only foray into the world of “sour” cocktails is the whiskey sour, you’re totally missing out. If you didn’t know it already, pisco is a brandy made from fermented grape juice. Popular in Peru and Chile, it’s the main ingredient in this cocktail that also features lime juice, simple syrup, bitters, and sometimes (like the classic whiskey sour) a whipped egg white.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 oz pisco
  • 1 egg white
  • 1 oz lemon juice
  • 3/4 oz simple syrup

Preparation:

  • Vigorously shake and strain contents in a cocktail shaker with ice cubes
  • Pour into glass
  • Garnish with bitters.
Glass of Paloma served with grapefruit and lime on a peach coloured bar and background
Paloma | Image: Rebecca Peloquin

13. Paloma

  • Main alcohol: Tequila
  • Served: On the rocks; poured over ice
  • Standard garnish: Lime wedge

When it comes to tequila-based cocktails, there’s no disputing the seemingly universal appeal of the margarita. But if prefer your tequila-based drinks to have a little extra tangy flavour, you’re going to want to mix up a paloma. Made with tequila, lime juice, and grapefruit soda, it’s a tart, citrus-driven, agave-based sipper for all occasions. Just like with a margarita, you can even add a salted rim for an added saline flavour.

Ingredients:

  • One part tequila
  • Three parts grapefruit soda

Preparation:

  • Stir together
  • Serve over ice
Close-up shot of a Bloody Mary on the rocks served with dill pickle spear and sliced lemon
Bloody Mary | Image: Arina Krasnikova

14. Bloody Mary

  • Main alcohol: Vodka
  • Served: On the rocks; poured over ice.
  • Standard garnish: Celery stalk or dill pickle spear

In the pantheon of breakfast cocktails, there are none more popular than the Bloody Mary. Sure, the mimosa has its place among the brunch crowd, but the Bloody Mary is king (or rather queen). While there are variations, the most basic recipe consists of vodka, tomato juice, hot sauce, cracked black pepper, and spices. Usually garnished with celery, it’s the perfect accompaniment to savoury breakfast foods.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 oz (3 parts) vodka
  • 1/2 oz (1 part) lemon juice
  • Pepper
  • Tabasco sauce
  • Tomato juice

Preparation:

  • Add dashes of Worcestershire Sauce, Tabasco, salt and pepper into highball glass
  • Pour all ingredients into highball with ice cubes
  • Stir gently
  • Garnish with celery stalk
Two glasses of French 75 served with a lemon twist garnish beside a bottle set on a matte marble background
French 75 | Image: Joseph De Leo

15. French 75

  • Main alcohol: Champagne
  • Drinkware: Champagne flute
  • Served: Straight up: chilled, without ice

This World War I-era cocktail remains just as delicious today as it was back then. Made with gin, champagne, sugar, and lemon juice, it’s a sparkling, refreshing, highly flavourful cocktail. First created at the New York Bar in Paris in 1915, it’s the kind of cocktail that makes you feel classier the more you sip it. Botanical gin, citrus, and sparkling wine. What’s not to love?

Ingredients:

  • 1 oz gin
  • 1/2 oz lemon juice
  • 2 dashes simple syrup
  • 2 oz champagne

Preparation:

  • Combine gin, syrup, and lemon juice in a cocktail shaker filled with ice
  • Shake vigorously and strain into an iced champagne glass
  • Top up with Champagne
  • Stir gently and serve
Glass of mojito on the rocks with sliced lime and sprigs of mint set on a wooden tray on a patterned table
Mojito | Image: Taryn Elliott

16. Mojito

  • Main alcohol: Rum
  • Served: On the rocks; poured over ice
  • Standard garnish: Slice of lime, Sprigs of mint

There are countless refreshing, classic cocktails, but few are better than the mojito. This traditional Cuban cocktail is made with white rum, lime juice, sugar, soda water, and fresh mint. While all of the flavours work together in perfect unison, the key is the mint. That’s what gives it the fresh, summery flavour drinkers from all over the world absolutely love.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 oz white rum
  • 1 oz fresh lime juice
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • Mint leaves
  • Soda Water

Preparation:

  • Muddle mint sprigs with sugar and lime juice
  • Add rum and top with soda water
  • Garnish with a sprig of mint leaves and serve with a straw
Headshot of three glasses of last word cocktail each served with three skewered maraschino cherries
Last Word | Image: Rocky Luten

17. Last Word

  • Main alcohol: Gin, Chartreuse
  • Served: Straight up; without ice
  • Standard garnish: Three skewered maraschino cherries

First created in 1915 at the Detroit Athletic Club, this pre-prohibition era cocktail is made up of gin, green Chartreuse, lime juice, and maraschino cherry liqueur. After probation, like many of the drinks of its time, it was forgotten for decades. That is until the rise of cocktail culture unearthed this herbal, sweet, botanical beverage a few decades ago. It’s remained popular ever since.

Ingredients:

  • 1 part gin
  • 1 part green Chartreuse
  • 1 part lime juice
  • 1 part Maraschino liqueur

Preparation:

  • Shake with ice
  • Strain into a cocktail glass
Boulevardier cocktail on the rocks and orange zest on wooden table
Boulevardier | Image: David Cabrera Navarro

18. Boulevardier

  • Main alcohol: Vermouth, Campari, Rye whiskey
  • Served: On the rocks; poured over ice
  • Standard garnish: Cherry, Orange peel

The Boulevardier is a very complicated cocktail.  When you look at it on paper, you might not think it would work. But somehow this combination of whiskey, sweet vermouth, and Campari works perfectly. Pretty much a Negroni with whiskey instead of gin, its origins can be traced back to Erskine Gwynne, an American-born writer who released a monthly magazine in Paris called Boulevardier in the early 1900s.

Ingredients:

  • 1 oz (1 part) Campari
  • 1 oz (1 part) sweet red vermouth
  • 1 oz (1 part) to 1.5 oz (1.5 parts) rye whisky or bourbon

Preparation:

  • Stir with ice
  • Strain, garnish and serve.
Two glasses of Mai Tai on the rocks with mint and skewered cherry and lime wheel garnish set on a wooden table
Mai Tai | Image: Nico Schinco

19. Mai Tai

  • Main alcohol: Rum
  • Served: On the rocks; poured over ice.
  • Standard garnish: Lime peel, Pineapple spear

Tiki is one of the most interesting cocktail styles. Not only is most of it rum-based, but it comes in exotic glasses and cups, is often served in bars with ocean views and is best enjoyed by drinkers wearing board shorts and sandals. The Mai Tai might be the best of the bunch. Made with white rum, dark rum, fresh lime juice, orange curacao, and orgeat syrup, every sip is like taking a trip to a tropical paradise.

Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 oz white rum
  • 1/2 oz fresh lime juice
  • 1/2 oz orange curaçao
  • 1/2 oz orgeat syrup
  • 3/4 oz dark rum

Preparation:

  • Shake all ingredients except the dark rum together in a mixer with ice
  • Strain into glass
  • Float the dark rum onto the top
  • Garnish and serve with straw
Three glasses of Americano cocktail on the rocks with orange garnish set on a dark wooden bar with a dark background
Americano | Image: Brent Hofacker

20. Americano

  • Main alcohol: Campari, Vermouth
  • Served: On the rocks; poured over ice
  • Standard garnish: Half an Orange Slice

First served in the late 1800s in Milan, Itay at Gaspare Campari’s bar, this classic cocktail is made with Campari, sweet vermouth, and sparkling water. While we don’t know for sure, many people believe the drink got its unique name because of how popular it was with tourists (particularly Americans) at the time.

Ingredients:

  • 1 oz Campari
  • 1 oz red vermouth
  • Soda Water

Preparation:

  • Pour the Campari and vermouth over ice into glass
  • Add a splash of soda water
  • Garnish with half orange slice.

Mixing up drinks is more than a mere job nowadays. While there are still bartenders who just pour pints of beer, mix up basic mixed drinks, and keep unruly guests at bay, the concept of mixology has become more of an art form than just a job to get a weekly paycheck.

Good Ingredients Matter

Mixologists work tirelessly to craft unique and delicious drinks with various spirits, tinctures, shrubs, syrups, bitters, herbs, and any manner of other exciting ingredients. The popularity of elaborate mixed drinks and cocktail bars has also led to a rise in home cocktailing and enthusiasm for cocktails as a whole.

Stir Down vs Mixed Cocktails

In recent years, the battle between stir-down and mixed cocktails has been waging steadily. Where the classic flavours of an Old Fashioned or Negroni still reign supreme, more modern options are entering the fold. As Hickson House’s Mikey Enright explains, the mark of a quality bartender is being able to adapt to the flavour profiles on the go.

“I personally prefer serving our patrons stirred-down cocktails, they feel just that bit more elegant and are often more spirit-based cocktails. However, mixed drinks are popular, too,” Enright tells us. “What we see these days is people knowing what they like and not being afraid to ask their bartender for that. Similarly, our team are trained to help even cocktail novices navigate to their perfect drink, be that stirred-down or mixed.”

In this new world of cocktailing, you might be wondering what drinks are more popular than others. Is your tried and true, Lebowski-inspired white Russian still popular or did its appeal diminish as we got farther away from the Coen brothers’ iconic film was released? Is your before-dinner Negroni trending? How about your favourite addition to “taco Tuesday”, your salt-rimmed Margarita? The boozy, whiskey-filled old-fashioned is certainly popular. It seems like every bar has its own version of this classic drink.

This list of the world’s most popular cocktails comes by way of global drinks trade publication Drinks International. Earlier this year, the magazine surveyed 100 bars from 33 countries charting the most frequently ordered cocktails across the year. Naturally, the classics continue to dominate the list, with whisky-based favourites such as the Old Fashioned and Sour ranking highly, however, there were a few surprise packets.

In keeping with recent trends, the Pisco Sour rose up the ranks with the ominously titled Last Word cocktail even cracking the top 20. This year’s top ranking might not be a surprise, but there are a few libations on here that even we haven’t had the pleasure of testing out.

What is the most popular cocktail in the world?

Figuring out which cocktail is the most popular in the whole world is no easy task. Since flavours vary and there are so many cocktail choices, trying to pick the most popular seems like a titanic task. Luckily, someone actually did it for us. Trade publication Drinks International surveyed the most popular bars in the world, asking them to rank their most-sold cocktails. The clear winner shouldn’t surprise anyone who enjoys a nice aperitif. That’s because the gin, Campari, and vermouth-centric cocktail is the most popular in the world.

What is the most famous cocktail in the world?

While there are actual facts to back up the most popular cocktail, the most famous is a little more difficult to pinpoint. Cases can be made for a variety of drinks including the classic Margarita, mojitos, negronis, and old fashioneds.


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Christopher Osburn
Contributor

Christopher Osburn

Christopher Osburn is a pop culture, travel, food, and drinks writer located in New York. He's been writing professionally since 2006 when he got a job as a beer columnist at his local newspaper. Since then, the culture and drinks expert has written for Men's Journal, Thrillist, Esquire, Food & Wine, Uproxx, Matador, Maxim, and many more sites and magazines.