Our 10 Most Popular Cocktails of 2019

A look back at the recipes that were the most popular on PUNCH this year, from a clarified Piña Colada Milk Punch to a Tarantino-inspired tiki classic.

Not surprisingly, we drank a lot in 2019—as did our readers. This year, we continued to lean into the world of tiki escapism, the never-ending infatuation with bitters (sometimes paired with tiki) and easy-drinking aperitivi, like the Bicicletta and the two-ingredient Garibaldi. But more-is-more was the prevailing theme, as drinks like The Hummer, a Detroit-born ice cream drink topped with Kahlúa, and the Polynesian Pearl Diver, a three-rum blend from the Tarantino classic Django Unchained rose to the top of the list.

Here, a look at our 10 most popular recipes of the year.

Employees Only’s Mezcal Margarita

Steve Schneider, principal bartender at New York’s Employees Only, has a long history with Margaritas. “I love Margaritas, I always have,” he says. “The Margarita has been a progression of my career, because in my 13 years behind the bar, it’s been the drink I’ve always had to make, even if it was in a shitty dive bar, with 18 beers on tap, making disco drinks.” Now, the mezcal-spiked version is a regular after-hours feature at EO, where the rest of the staff shares his love of the classic.

Best Jungle Bird Cocktail Recipe

Jungle Bird

With a base of Jamaican or blackstrap rum, the Jungle Bird is more bracing than the average tiki cocktail due to the addition of bitter Campari. Pineapple and lime smooth any rough edges and add a characteristically tropical vibe to this classic.

Polynesian Pearl Diver

In Quentin Tarantino’s 2012 antebellum film, Django Unchained, this fictional variation of the Don the Beachcomber classic appears in the coolly vicious hands of plantation owner Calvin Candie (Leonardo DiCaprio)—never mind the fact that tiki was not invented until the 1930s.

Piña Colada Milk Punch

This Piña Colada Milk Punch maintains the essence of the drink’s tropical spirit with coconut water, pineapple juice, rum (and Velvet falernum for extra credit), but it’s transformed by adding scalded milk, clarifying the mixture with a cheesecloth and then ladling it, punch-style, on the rocks.

Best Espresso Martini Recipe

Espresso Martini

This blend of vodka, coffee liqueur and fresh espresso—first called the Vodka Espresso—is universally regarded as a modern classic cocktail. It is, in fact, the most influential and popular java drink to come along since the Irish Coffee. Dick Bradsell famously created the drink at the request of a supermodel who asked for something that would, “wake her up, then fuck her up.”

Aperitivo Campari Cocktail recipe

Bicicletta

According to a popular Italian legend, the Bicicletta—“bicycle” in Italian—was named after the elderly men who swerved all over the road while riding home after a few afternoon drinks at the café. In traditional aperitivo style, the cocktail mixes two of Italy’s favorite early evening refreshments. Campari adds delightfully bitter complexity to dry Italian white wine, while a splash of club soda turns the combination into a refreshing spritz.

Old Fashioned Recipe Clover Club NYC

Tom Macy’s Old-Fashioned

Macy’s recipe, which took top honors in a PUNCH blind-tasting, calls on a base of Wild Turkey Rye 101, a teaspoon of rich demerara syrup and three “healthy dashes” of a blend of three types of bitters. The judges found the drink had a pleasing layering of flavors and was a good illustration of how a well-chosen whiskey can set an Old-Fashioned apart.

Hummer

Jerome Adams created this boozy ice cream drink in 1968 at Detroit’s Bayview Yacht Club—and he still works there to this day. The Hummer has become legendary among the sailing set, but it’s also a Michigan staple inland, where it’s served in plastic party cups in backyards around the state. (In fancier restaurants you’ll often find it in a wine glass, topped with whipped cream.)

Dante’s Garibaldi

The flagship drink at New York’s Dante is named after Italian revolutionary Giuseppe Garibaldi, a central figure in the unification of Italy. Its two ingredients—Campari from the north acting as a nod to the red shirts worn by Garibaldi’s freedom fighters, and bright orange representing Sicily to the south—are symbolic of its heritage.

Campari Sour Cocktail Recipe

Campari Sour

Leaning on both grapefruit and lime for the citrus component, the Campari Sour is a low-proof option built on the Italian red bitter, because, well, why not?

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