Now more than ever, our home bars have become lifelines—whether they’re inspiring ambitious cocktail projects to keep us sane or offering the backbone to our latest pantry cocktail. During this time spent at home, you—our readers—have been relying on tried-and-true favorites like the Mezcal Margarita and Campari Sour that never seem to get old. A dose of escapism, too, has been a welcome diversion, whether that means channeling the Caribbean via a three-ingredient Ti’ Punch or simply imagining afternoons drinking al fresco with a Pink Rabbit, a cocktail that thoroughly embodies springtime.
Here, a look at our 10 most popular recipes of the moment.
Employees Only 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.
Toby Cecchini's Gin & Tonic
The winner of our Gin & Tonic tasting, Toby Cecchini’s take on the classic is derived from his father’s recipe. The lime skins are julienned into thin strips and then placed in a shaking tin or glass with three ounces of Tanqueray gin, where they are muddled for 20 or 30 seconds, until “the aromatic oil has clearly emerged and the whole has taken on a translucent green from the juice.”
The flagship drink at Dante is named after Italian revolutionary Giuseppe Garibaldi, who was 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 juice representing Sicily to the south—are symbolic of its heritage.
City Island Colada
The Henny Colada, a Piña Colada made with Hennessy Cognac, has been a staple at seafood shacks on the Bronx’s City Island for more than two decades. “The only way to improve on a Piña Colada is to add aged rum, and aged rum is a lot like Cognac,” says bartender and Bronx native Giuseppe González, who grew up going to City Island every summer. While the drink calls for Hennessy VS, González recommends Hennessy Privilege as an upgrade, “if you’re feeling fancy.”
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.
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 character to this classic.
Atlanta-based bartender Paul Calvert mimics the flavor profile and appearance of a springtime rosé in his Pink Rabbit, made of equal parts gin, vermouth and rooibos tea and finished with a splash of lemon. The simple proportions and assembly allow this recipe to be easily scaled up for a party-sized punch or, alternatively, stretched further with a topper of sparkling wine or tonic.
Before the “Cosmo” became the must-have liquid accessory of Sarah Jessica Parker acolytes, there was the Cosmopolitan, created by bartender Toby Cecchini at the Odeon in New York City, in 1988. Adapted from a pink-hued mock-Martini recipe that had been floating around Florida and San Francisco, Cecchini retooled the ingredient list with higher-quality mixers, choosing Citron vodka, lime juice, Cointreau and cranberry juice. Strip away all the silly cultural associations, however, and what you’re left with is a doctored-up Cape Cod—a little sweet, not too alcoholic, and pink.
The Ti’ Punch is Martinique’s national cocktail, and the island’s answer to America’s Old-Fashioned. Traditionally the drink (pronounced “tee paunch” in the Caribbean—“ti” being the Creole variant of the French petit) includes a heavy dose of Martinique’s rhum agricole, rounded out with touch of lime juice and a splash of cane syrup, a Caribbean sweetener reduced down from raw sugarcane juice (though simple syrup will do perfectly well in a pinch).
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?