Before entertaining any guest where alcohol will be served, it’s important to know the most common mixed drink orders to prepare yourself. After all, you aren’t going to want to look like you don’t know what you’re doing when someone orders a Moscow Mule, right?
The list of possible mixed drink orders is endless, but there are 15, particularly, that tend to be ordered the most often. From vodka-based drinks like Moscow Mules and White Russians to Tequila-based drinks like margaritas or the tequila sunrise, basic knowledge of the most popular mixed drinks is key to ensuring your guests are happy.
What To Order At A Bar
This guide will give you the skinny on 15 of the most ordered mixed drinks. There may be some drinks not included on this list that are also popular, but you can rest assured we’ve covered the most common.
Why Mixed Drinks Are So Popular
Mixed drinks began to gain traction as far back as the 1860s, but the Prohibition Era brought them into the spotlight as drinkers found ways to hide their alcohol. In fact, the first-ever bartender’s guide was printed in 1862 and marked the beginning of the rise to stardom that cocktails now see.
The 15 Most Popular Mixed Drinks
Although mixed drink cocktails have been around for almost two centuries, not all drinks are created equal. Some drinks, like the martini, have been around since the very beginning. Like sex on the beach and long island iced teas, other drinks are newer. Let’s briefly explore 15 of the most ordered mixed drinks across the country.
The Moscow Mule is a drink made from a mix of vodka, spicy ginger beer, and lime juice. Additionally, it is typically served with a slice or wedge of lime on the side as a garnish. Moscow Mules are often served in a copper mug as the copper from the mug can easily take to the cold temperature of the drink. This drink should always be served on the rocks and is sometimes served in a highball glass if a copper mug isn’t available.
The Moscow Mule is claimed to have been invented in 1941 at the Chatham Hotel in New York. John Morgan, owner of the Hollywood Cock-n-Bull restaurant, and John Martin, president of Heublein, got to talking when they realized customers didn’t like their ginger beer and Smirnoff vodka. After a couple of drinks, the two decided to combine their failures and, in turn, create the Moscow Mule.
The Tom Collins cocktail is a mixed drink that contains gin, lemon juice, sugar, and carbonated water. The Tom Collins is also among some of the oldest mixed drink recipes recorded and was first written down in 1876. The drink is considered a gin and sparkling lemonade mix and is most commonly served in a Collins glass on the rocks. The Tom Collins cocktail is typically garnished with either a slice of lemon or a cherry.
The story behind the Tom Collins name comes from a running joke in the streets of New York in the late 1800s. Apparently, one group of friends joked that a man named Tom Collins was going around the streets of New York telling false statements about the group of friends. As a result, people would solicit various bars throughout the city in an attempt to find the man “slandering” the name of that group.
Sex on the Beach
Sex on the Beach is a cocktail that comprises vodka, peach schnapps, orange juice, and cranberry juice. This mixed drink is so popular that it’s recognized as an International Bartenders Association Official Cocktail. Sex on the Beach is always served on the rocks in a highball glass with a garnish of an orange slice.
The Sex on the Beach is a newer mixed drink as it didn’t come into the picture until the 1980s. The most popular rendition of Sex on the Beach can be attributed to a bartender from Florida named Ted Pizio. Pizio concocted the drink as a way to promote peach schnapps and named it after two of the most popular spring break activities in Florida.
Lemon Drop Martini
Lemon drops are a martini, which is a vodka-based mixed drink. This cocktail, in particular, uses vodka, lemon juice, triple sec, and simple syrup. Although it’s commonly compared to a vodka martini, the taste is closer to that of the White Lady. Lemon drop martinis are served straight and don’t contain any ice. Lemon Drop Martinis are commonly served in a cocktail glass and usually come with a lemon slice garnish.
The Lemon Drop Martini is said to have been invented during the 1970s by Norman Jay Hobday. Hobday was the founder of Henry Africa’s, a fern bar in San Francisco. The name of the Lemon Drop martini comes from the fact that it supposedly tastes very similar to lemon drop candies.
Long Island Iced Tea
Long Island Iced Teas are typically made from vodka, tequila, light rum, triple sec, gin, and a splash of cola. The cola is meant to give the drink mixture the same look as that of a typical iced tea. This alcoholic “iced tea” is meant to be served on the rocks and gently stirred before drinking. Long Island Iced Teas are served in highball glasses and typically have a garnish of a lemon spiral.
While some attribute the invention of the Long Island Iced Tea back to the 1920s, others claim it didn’t come to fruition until the 1970s. Either way, this dangerously delicious drink is a common choice amongst casual drinkers everywhere.
The White Russian is a coffee cocktail that contains vodka, coffee liqueur, and cream. White Russians are commonly served in old-fashioned glasses and are always served on the rocks. You can easily make the drink’s counterpart, the Black Russian, without the added cream.
The White Russian mixed drink originated in 1949 by a Belgian barman at the Hotel Metropole in Brussels. The drink was created in honor of Perle Mesta, who was the U.S. Ambassador to Luxembourg at the time. Although the drink didn’t originate in Russia, it received its name due to the main ingredient being vodka, a Russian liquor.
Bloody Marys can be made in a variety of ways but always contain vodka, tomato juice, and a mixture of spices and other flavors. Additional ingredients may include Worcestershire sauce, hot sauce, garlic, herbs, horseradish, celery, and a variety of other savory ingredients. Bloody Marys are always served on the rocks and in a highball glass. Common garnishes for the Bloody Mary include stalks of celery or dill pickle spears.
The Bloody Mary cocktail originates all the way back to the 16th century. The drink gets its name from Mary Tudor, the first Queen of England in her own right. However, the Bloody Mary we know of today wasn’t brought to fruition until the 1920s or 30s. The original creator isn’t known, but the Bloody Mary has a variety of other names, including the Bloody Margaret and the Cesar, to name a few.
The Tequila Sunrise is a Tequila-based drink that also contains orange juice and grenadine syrup. The drink is served, unmixed, in a Collins or other tall glass and is typically served on the rocks. The standard garnish for a tequila sunrise is either a cherry or an orange slice and shouldn’t be stirred before serving. A similar drink, the Tequila Sunset, is served the same way, but with the addition of soda water.
Tequila Sunrises were originally created in the 1930s by Gene Sulit of the Baltimore Hotel. In its earliest days, the Tequila Sunrise consisted of tequila, soda water, lime juice, and liqueur. With that said, the drink didn’t gain major popularity until 1972 when the Rolling Stones and the Eagles both found the drink and brought it into the mainstream.
Mai Tais are a mixed drink that contains rum, curacao liqueur, orgeat syrup, and lime juice. This cocktail is a huge proponent in “tiki culture” and is a common drink served in tropical bars. Mai Tais are most commonly served on the rocks and in a highball or old fashioned glass. The most common garnish for a Mai Tai is either a lime peel or a spear of pineapple. To make the drink, all of the ingredients, sans the rum, are shaken before being poured in with the rum.
As the Mai Tai originated as a rum cocktail, it was largely responsible for the rum depletion of the 1940s and 50s. The cocktail itself was invented in 1944 by Victor J. Bergeron. Although it’s a common “Hawaiian” drink, the cocktail actually originated in Oakland, California.
Irish Car Bomb
The Irish Car Bomb, also referred to as the Irish Slammer, is a cocktail that has a stout base. A shot of whiskey and Irish cream are poured into a shot glass and subsequently dropped into the stout glass. This drink is served straight and doesn’t use any ice and is commonly served out of a pub glass.
The Irish Car Bomb has notoriety attached to its name and some bartenders will flat out refuse to serve it because of the offensive nature of the name. The Irish part of the name Irish Car Bomb comes from the Irish ingredients used in the drink. However, the “car bomb” part of the name refers to both how the shot is dropped into the drink as well as an offensive homage to the car bombings in Ireland during the 1990s.
Vegas Bombs are a type of cocktail that is made with the “Royal Flush Shot” and a cup filled with an energy drink. In a separate shot glass a bartender will mix Crown Royal whiskey, peach schnapps, and cranberry juice. Then, that shot is dropped into the energy drink to make a Vegas Bomb. The drink is commonly served straight and without any additional ice.
The energy drink used is most commonly Red Bull and the drink originated in Las Vegas and gets its name from the way the drink is made as well as an homage to the Las Vegas party scene.
The Cuba Libre is more commonly referred to the popular “Rum and Coke.” This cocktail is commonly served in a highball glass and consists of cola, rum, and lime juice. Rum and Coke is most commonly served on ice and usually has a lime wedge as a garnish.
The Cuba Libre translates to “Free Cuba” and was the battlecry of the Cuban Liberation Army. The most common rum used in the Cuba Libre is Bacardi and the reasoning is more than just it being a good quality rum. According to the company, Bacardi was the rum of choice during celebrations of Cuba’s independance after the Spanish-American War.
The Alabama Slammer is a mixed drink that contains amaretto, Southern Comfort, sloe gin, and orange juice. The drink is most often served in a Collins glass and is also often referred to as the Southern Slammer. Alabama Slammers are meant to be served on ice and are commonly garnished with both a cherry and an orange slice.
The origination of the Alabama Slammer is said to be in 1971 when the recipe appeared in that year’s issue of the Playboy Bartender’s Guide. The creation of the drink is attributed to Thomas Mario but some people claim the drink wasn’t really invented until 1975 on the campus of the University of Alabama.
The Sazerac cocktail is a local creation that is said to have originated in New Orleans. The mixed drink can be made with either Whiskey or Cognac and gets its name from a specific cognac brand, Sazerac de Forge et Fils. The Sazerac brand of cognac brnay is the original main ingredient of this cocktail.
To make this mixed drink, you need to use Rye whiskey or cognac, Absinthe, one sugar cube, and three dashes of Peychaud’s bitters. The Sazerac cocktail is typically served straight without any ice and commonly has a lemon peel for a garnish. This drink is also typically served out of an old-fashioned glass.
Cosmopolitans, commonly referred to as Cosmos, are typically made with vodka, triple sec, cranberry juice, and the juice from a freshly squeezed lime. Cosmos are meant to be served straight, without any ice. You’ll most often see a Cosmo served out of a cocktail glass and garnished with a lemon slice or a wedge of lime.
The earliest form of the cosmopolitan can be traced back to the beginning of mixed drinks. However, the modern form we know of today is commonly attributed to a bartender named Neal Murray in 1975. The name is said to come from a guest who tried the drink and after Murray explained he added a shot of cranberry juice to a kamikaze drink, the guest proclaimed “How Cosmopolitan.”