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Cocktails

The Ultimate Classics

June 04, 2021

Story: Punch Staff

photo: Lizzie Munro

Cocktails

The Ultimate Classics

June 04, 2021

Story: Punch Staff

photo: Lizzie Munro

We blind-tasted more than a dozen versions of 27 different classic cocktails to find the best recipe for each. Here are our favorites.

Since 2016, we’ve set the lofty goal of finding the ultimate expression of every classic cocktail. After asking dozens of America’s best bartenders to submit their finest recipes for Rob Roys, Jungle Birds, Martinis and beyond, we blind tasted them all with a panel of experts to crown a winner. In search of the platonic ideal, we’ve discovered that some first place winners strictly adhere to traditional recipes (the case for the Manhattan and the Bamboo), while others look to unorthodox and potentially controversial methods—such as orange juice in a Whiskey Sour or a Negroni that forgoes an equal parts construction. Here, we’ve rounded up the best of the best classic cocktail recipes.

Recipe

Giuseppe González’s Jungle Bird

The first place winner of our recent tasting balances bitter, juicy and boozy.

Recipe

Fanny Chu’s Piña Colada

The winner of our Piña Colada blind tasting.

Recipe

Garret Richard’s Mai Tai

Saline is the secret to this winning Mai Tai.

Recipe

Sarah Morrissey’s Cosmopolitan

A textbook example of the citrusy classic.

Recipe

Chip Tyndale’s Sidecar

A refined, subtle revision of the Cognac classic.

Recipe

Dan Sabo’s Whiskey Sour

An unorthodox half-ounce of orange juice amps up the classic Whiskey Sour blueprint.

Recipe

Pietro Collina’s Daiquiri

Pietro Collina’s take on the Daiquiri was the top vote-getter in our blind tasting of 20 Daiquiri recipes.

Recipe

Bobby Heugel’s Margarita

Bobby Heugel's riff on the Tommy's Margarita uses both Persian and Key lime juices.

Recipe

Tim Miner’s French 75

This Cognac-based rendition was the winner in our recent blind French 75 tasting.

Recipe

Jelani Johnson’s Mojito

Jelani Johnson's take on the classic took the top spot in our recent blind Mojito tasting.

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Tom Macy’s Gimlet

Tom Macy of Clover Club in Brooklyn delivered the winning formula in our recent Gimlet blind tasting with a simple construction.

Recipe

Alicia Perry’s Corpse Reviver No. 2

Alicia Perry's recipe does not strictly adhere to the equal-parts doctrine.

Recipe

St. John Frizell’s Hemingway Daiquiri

Shaking with a swath of grapefruit peel adds brightness to this winning recipe.

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Paddy O’Brien’s Last Word

Paddy O'Brien of The Last Word in Astoria, Queens, calls on a local craft gin in his take on the classic.

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Chip Tyndale’s Bamboo

A traditional build showcasing both bitter and dry notes and a finish that doesn't fade.

Recipe

Doppio Spritz

Two types of Italian aperitivo are the key to this winning recipe.

Recipe

Dante’s Negroni

A more gin-heavy revision of that classic that dials back on the Campari and sweet vermouth.

Recipe

Abigail Gullo’s Boulevardier

A near-perfect example of the cocktail.

Recipe

Tom Macy’s Rob Roy

A true exemplar of a modern Rob Roy, with good body and a touch of smoke.

Recipe

Jeremy Oertel’s Manhattan

Jeremy Oertel's take on the Manhattan was the top vote-getter at our tasting of 17 Manhattan recipes.

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Tom Macy’s Old-Fashioned

Macy's recipe took top place in our recent blind-tasting and calls on a base of Wild Turkey Rye 101.

Recipe

Dale DeGroff’s Martini

Dale DeGroff’s Martini recipe builds on a simple and strong combination of Beefeater Gin and Martini Reserva Speciale Ambrato vermouth.

Recipe

Bobby Heugel’s Freezer Martini

An archetypal London dry-style Martini.

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Jen Akin’s Ti’ Punch

A textbook example of the classic Caribbean cocktail.

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Dale DeGroff’s Grasshopper

A textbook example of the New Orleans cocktail.

Recipe

St. John Frizell’s Irish Coffee

This recipe calls on fresh espresso in place of regular coffee.

Recipe

Patrick Smith’s Espresso Martini

Vanilla liqueur adds a fulsome, candied quality to this version.