The following may be a tad controversial. It is just my attempt to try to wrap my head around what is, and is not a classic. In trying to think about what is, and is not, a classic, the list can sometimes get a tad long and unwieldy. Drinks such as the Martini, Manhattan, Old Fashioned are uncontested. But Pisco Sour? There are a lot of bars that don't carry Pisco. Mai Tai? There are a lot of bars that don't carry fresh mint. Negroni? While perhaps more common than Pisco or Mint, there are bars which don't carry Campari. So how do you draw the line, how to you rubber stamp some drinks as absolutely agreed upon "Classics"? Perhaps this can be a good use of the "Discussion" part of this page to chat amongst ourselves as to what this list should look like.
There are perhaps over four thousand different cocktail recipes floating about, but only a few of those can be considered "Classics". Classic cocktails are those that have stood the test of time. They are not just popular amongst both bartenders and customers, but they also have that certain style that can set them apart from the rest.
For a drink to be a classic, it should have the following attributes:
- It needs to be delicious
- It needs to be a recipe that most bartenders know how to make
- It needs to be a drink that customers know to order
- It needs to be made from ingredients that most bars have on hand
These would be the classic cocktails that absolutely every single bartender should know how to make and have the ingredients on hand for them.
- Bloody Mary
- Old Fashioned
- Tom Collins
- Whiskey Sour
Runner Up Classics
These are the drinks which have stood the test of time, and the only think preventing them from being a "Primary Classic" is that they might use an ingredient that may not be found in run-of-the-mill cocktail bars.
- French 75 - Champagne
- Irish Coffee - proper whipped cream
- Jack Rose - Applejack
- Last Word - Charteuse
- Mai Tai - Orgeat
- Mint Julep - fresh mint
- Negroni - Campari
- Pisco Sour - Pisco
- Sazerac - Peychaud's bitters
Deserves to be Classics
These are drinks which have been around for a long time, are delicious, but just haven't achieved the popularity amongst bartenders and customers which would make them commonly available.
- Boulevardier - Only recently "rediscovered"
- Brooklyn - Common in some circles, but may not be well known by all bartenders
- Martinez - Common in some circles, but may not be well known by all bartenders
- Planter's Punch - Common in some circles, but may not be well known by all bartenders
- Ramos Gin Fizz - Yeah, everybody "should" know this drink, but they don't.
- Vieux Carré - A tad obscure once you move away from the "craft" bars