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WORLD COCKTAIL DAY: The 10 Most Popular Cocktails In The World

May 24th is National Cocktail Day; May 13th is World Cocktail Day.

Each year, Drinks International, founder of the International Spirits Challenge, polls bartenders worldwide to determine the world’s most popular cocktails.

The 2020 Top 10 follow.

You can see the Top 50 by paging through the results, here.

In a normal (i.e., non-pandemic) year, we’d split these Top 10 into two parts. We’d invite friends to a cocktail party featuring five of them for National Cocktail day, and the next five for World Cocktail Day.

More easily, you can head to your favorite cocktail lounge with a few friends, order five at a time, and pass them around to decide which you like best.

Alas, this year it’s a very small celebration at home.

So we offer these to you to plan ahead for 2022 when hopefully, we’ll have a big reason to celebrate.

For the fifth consecutive year, the Old Fashioned has rated the top spot. While this American whiskey classic dates to the 1880s, it proves that something old can still be new. Bourbon-based and served in a rocks glass, it includes sugar, bitters, and an orange slice garnish.

Here’s the history of the Old Fashioned and the recipe.

National Old Fashioned Day is June 14th,

When Italian Count Camillio Negroni requested a stronger Americano cocktail*, bartender Fosco Scarselli replaced soda water with gin. The Negroni has held second place for five years running. The name originated with late 19th-century bar patrons, to distinguish cocktails made the “old-fashioned” way from newer, more complex cocktails.

Here’s more history, and the recipe.

National Negroni Week is the second week in September.

This cocktail has taken third place for the second year in a row. The first known publication of the Whiskey Sour recipe was in Jerry Thomas’ book, The Bon Vivant’s Companion, in 1862.

National Whiskey Sour Day is August 25th.

The Daiquiri was created in Cuba, but by an American mining engineer. It’s the most popular rum cocktail on the list. A favorite of Ernest Hemingway, it moved up one place over the 2019 rankings.

Here’s the history of the Daiquiri, the original recipe, and a popular variation.

National Daiquiri Day is July 19th.

This classic whiskey cocktail, dating to the 1870s, is made with bourbon or rye and sweet vermouth, served in a rocks glass, and garnished with a maraschino cherry. It is said to have been a popular drink after deep-sea fishing trips to Manhattan.

Here’s the history of the Manhattan and the recipe.

There is currently no Manhattan cocktail holiday.

This combination of gin and dry vermouth is garnished with an olive or lemon twist garnish. The less vermouth, the drier the Martini. People who wanted to drink straight gin could ask for just a splash of it.

It’s the only cocktail in the Top 10 that isn’t sweet (from early times, people used sugar to mitigate the hard edge of the alcohol). With the rise of vodka as a popular beverage in the 1970s, the Vodka Martini was born.

The Martini has a longer history than most cocktails. Check it out, along with the original and subsequent recipes.

National Martini Day is June 19th.

Who knew that the Espresso Martini would become a modern classic among consumers? It was originally called the Vodka Espresso, invented by Dick Bradsell in 1983 in London (the history).

This combination of vodka and espresso shows how some people can’t get enough coffee, in any form. Here’s the recipe.

There is currently no Espresso Martini holiday, but join in on National Martini Day, June 19th.

Other opportunities: February 27th is National Kahlúa Day, and November 23rd is National Espresso Day.

The Margarita has dropped two places since last year, but it is still the top tequila drink on the list.

It was invented by a Dallas socialite, while at her vacation home in Acapulco, Mexico. Here’s the history of the Margarita, plus recipes.

National Margarita Day is February 22nd.

The Aperol Spritz, popular in the 1950s, is popular again. Up two places since 2019, it made it into the Top 10 for the first time. Created by the Barbieri Brothers (makers of Aperol) in the 1900s, the combination of Aperol, prosecco, and a splash of soda was created as a lighter pre-dinner cocktail.

Here’s the recipe and the history of the Aperol Spritz.

National Aperol Spritz Day is August 13th.

Dropping from number 8 to number 10, this vodka and ginger beer classic was developed by Smirnoff executives trying to move more vodka. Traditionally served in a copper-clad mug, has its own food holiday: March 3rd.

Here’s the recipe and more history of the drink.

National Moscow Mule Day is March 3rd.


[1] The Old Fashioned is the world’s most popular cocktail (photo © Cottonbro | Pexels).

[2] The Negroni is the world’s #2 favorite cocktail (photo © Taralucci e Vino | NYC).

[3] The Whiskey Sour, #3, features that love-it-or-hate-it garnish, the maraschino cherry (photo © Lognetic | Fotolia).

Classic Daiquiri
[4] The Daiquiri was created in Cuba by an American engineer who wanted something more (photo © Tempered Spirits).

[5] The Manhattan, the #5 cocktail, shares a maraschino cherry garnish with #3, the Whiskey Sour (photo © Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse).

[6] The Dry Martini, #6, in an elegant presentation at Dante restaurant in New York City (photo © Dante Restaurant).


*The Americano cocktail is made from Campari, sweet vermouth, and for the sparkling version, club soda; and garnished with a slice of lemon. The cocktail was first served in its creator Gaspare Campari’s bar, Caffè Campari, in the 1860s.


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