Some of the best cocktails created more than a century ago, have stood the test of time, while modern mixes also tantalise your tastebuds. There are hundreds of different cocktail recipes online, with new ones being created all the time. The International Bartenders’ Association officially recognises 77 cocktails that can be mixed by participants in the annual World Cocktail Competition for bar-tending. They fall into three categories: unforgettable, contemporary and new era. Some cocktails are so new, they haven’t even been categorised yet!
In recent years, we’ve seen a growing trend for coffee cocktails – something virtually unheard of before the 1980s. Today, they can be found in cocktail bars all over the world, with coffee and cocktail cultures growing in tandem. With such a massive selection, how do you choose the most popular cocktails of all time? While it’s largely down to personal taste, there are a few iconic cocktails that will always remain best sellers. Read on to find out more about the most popular cocktails in bars across the world today.
1. Espresso Martini
The Espresso Martini is one of the first recognised coffee cocktails, created in London in the 1980s, by famous bartender and mixologist Dick Bradsell. Born in Bishop’s Stortford, the art school graduate and former butler was a barman in Hong Kong, before returning to England in his 20s to work at some of the capital’s most famous bars.
At the Zanzibar Club, he was renowned for inventing cocktails for each customer. Legend has it he invented the Espresso Martini for a model who asked for a cocktail to pep her up. Bradsell came up with an icy espresso, shaking sugar syrup, vodka, espresso coffee, Kahlua coffee liqueur and ice together.
The Espresso Martini, classed as a new era cocktail by the IBA today, is one of the most popular cocktails in the world. It is often served garnished with coffee beans, with the caffeine creating the pick-me-up that the unidentified 1980s model requested.
2. Porn Star Martini
The Porn Star Martini is a passion fruit cocktail with a zingy taste. A mixture of ripe passion fruit, vanilla vodka, Passoa passion fruit liqueur, sugar syrup, lime juice and ice, it is served with a shot of prosecco and garnished with half a fresh passion fruit.
It was invented by mixologist Douglas Ankrah in 2003. Born in Ghana in 1970, the cocktail industry pioneer owned the famous LAB cocktail bar in London. He described how he was inspired to create the tipple, with its unusual name, because it was a “sexy cocktail”! Today, it regularly features in lists of top cocktails and Ankrah said he had no idea his cocktail would become a classic.
A classic party cocktail, the Mojito is made from a mixture of different rum variations including white rum, soda water, lime juice, sugar and mint leaves. Although its exact origins are unknown, aficionados believe its roots can be traced back to 16th century Cuba.
When the English naval officer Sir Francis Drake arrived in Havana, his crew had fallen sick on the long journey. Local people made them a natural tonic from Aguardiente de Caña rum, mint leaves and the juices from limes and sugar cane. Legend has it a cocktail named El Draque was served in Cuban bars, named after the explorer.
The drink was apparently popular among workers in the Cuban sugar cane fields in the 19th century. The name Mojito is said to have originated in Havana from the word “mojo”, meaning a kind of magic. The La Bodeguita del Medio restaurant-bar, in Havana, is usually cited as Mojito’s official birthplace.
4. Pina Colada
The famous Pina Colada cocktail is a simple mix of white rum, coconut cream, fresh pineapple juice and ice, garnished with a wedge of pineapple and served in a tall glass. Classed as a contemporary classic cocktail by the IBA, it was born in San Juan, Puerto Rico.
Bartender Ramón “Monchito” Marrero first mixed up the fruity blend in 1954 at the Caribe Hilton, creating everyone’s favourite summer classic cocktail. He personally served his famous drink for the next 35 years at the hotel. It became the national drink of Puerto Rico in 1978!
5. Strawberry Daiquiri
The Daiquiri cocktail is a smooth blend of white rum, lime and sugar, shaken together with plenty of ice. The Strawberry Daiquiri is a fruity version, adding ripe, sweet, fresh strawberries to the mix.
The Daiquiri dates back to 1896, when it was invented by an American engineer, Jennings Cox, who was living in Cuba following the Spanish-American war. While the origins of many historic cocktails are hazy, the birth of the Daiquiri is backed up by the actual cocktail recipe card, signed by Cox in 1896.
While throwing a cocktail party for friends, Cox ran out of gin. Since he had plenty of rum, he used it as a substitute for gin in a punch bowl. His spur of the moment cocktail was a huge hit, so he christened it the Daiquiri after a nearby port town. Constantino Ribalaigua Vert, head bartender at Havana’s El Floridita Bar, is credited with inventing the strawberry Daiquiri in the 1930s. The American novelist Ernest Hemingway was said to be a frequent customer who enjoyed a Strawberry Daiquiri cocktail.
6. Irish Coffee Affogato
When it comes to Irish food and wine as well as other beverages, no list of popular cocktails would be complete without the famous Irish Coffee Affogato. It is made by mixing the Italian dessert, affogato, with freshly-brewed Irish coffee and vanilla ice cream, creating a smooth, rich blend that is served ice cold and garnished with chocolate-covered coffee beans.
Irish Coffee was created by Joe Sheridan, a chef at Foynes Port, Ireland, in 1943. The airport was a base for transatlantic flights during World War II and often carried political figures and American celebrities. Sheridan decided to rustle up a special drink for them and Irish Coffee was born, blending Irish whiskey, coffee and cream. One of his most famous customers was the actress Marilyn Monroe!
Affogato is a popular dessert in Italy, comprising a scoop of vanilla ice cream drenched in espresso. It has become sought-after in coffee shops worldwide. The Irish Coffee Affogato cocktail, a modern variation of Irish Coffee, is one of many new beverages designed to cater for the growing coffee cocktails trend.