Contemporary classic cocktails / Renaissance Classics

  • Contemporary classic cocktails / Renaissance Classics image 28741

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What has become known as the cocktail renaissance, the period when skilfully crafted and balanced cocktails were rediscovered by bartenders and embraced by Discerning Drinkers at large, properly took off in the 1990s. However, its real beginning dates back to the mid-1980s and the father of contemporary bartending, Dick Bradsell.


Dick created the Vodka Espresso in 1983, it is the earliest cocktail on the list below, and is also the earliest drink on Robert Simonson's Modern Classics of the Cocktail Renaissance app. Robert is particularly well placed to curate such a selection of cocktails as he has spent years interviewing folks like me who were around during the 1990s for his forthcoming book, A Proper Drink: The Untold Story of How a Band of Bartenders Saved the Civilized Drinking World.

His criteria for what constitutes a modern classic are as follows:

1. "The drink must have travelled well beyond the bar where it was created, appearing on cocktail menus throughout its native city, native country and, possibly the world.

2. "The drink has to be popular enough with the public for it to warrant a standing place on those menus.

3. "It must be generally regarded by the bartending community as a significant achievement, worthy of promulgating."

I very much approve of Robert's criteria and as I've been immersed in the cocktail scene since the early 1990s I thought I'd use the same criteria establish my own list of Renaissance Classics, perhaps with more of a European slant, also taking into account page views of each drink on this website. Please follow links to the recipes and origins from each cocktail name.

Renaissance Classics


Enduring contemporary classics whose popularity continues to grow or remains a part of public consciousness.

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Amaretto Sour (Morgenthaler Recipe)
Created by: Jeffrey Morgenthaler (2012) at Clyde Common, Portland, OR, USA

Añejo Highball
Created by: Dale DeGroff (1997-1999) at The Rainbow Room, New York City, USA

Aperol Spritz
Created by: Unknown

Barrel-aged Negroni
Created by: Jeffrey Morgenthaler (2009) at Clyde Common, Portland, OR, USA

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Benton's Old Fashioned
Created by: Don Lee (2007) at PDT, New York City, USA

Bramble
Created by: Dick Bradsell (mid 1980s) Fred's Club, London, England

Breakfast Martini
Created by: Salvatore Calabrese (1996) Library Bar, Lanesborough Hotel, London, England

Chartreuse Swizzle
Created by: Marcovaldo Dionysos (2002) at Tres Agaves, San Francisco, USA

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Corpse Reviver Number Blue
Created by: Jacob Briars (2007), Queenstown, New Zealand

Cosmopolitan
Created by: Toby Cecchini (1988) at The Odeon, New York City, USA

Death Flip
Created by: Chris Hysted (2010) at Black Pearl, Melbourne, Australia

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Earl Grey MarTEAni
Created by: Audrey Saunders (2000) at Bemelmans Bar, New York City, USA

Eastside Gimlet
Created by: George Delgado (2004) at Libation, New York City, USA

Final Ward
Created by: Phil Ward (2007) at Pegu Club, New York City, USA

French Martini
Created by: By unknown at one of restauranteur Keith McNally's New York bars, USA

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Gin Basil Smash
Created by: Joerg Meyer (2008) at Bar Le Lion, Hamburg, Germany

Gin Gin Mule
Created by: Audrey Saunders (2000) at Beacon, New York City, USA

Gold Rush
Created by T. J. Siegel (2001) at Milk and Honey, New York City, USA

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Green Beast
Created by: Charles Vexenat (2010), Paris, France

Jasmine
Created by: Paul Harrington (1990), Townhouse, Emeryville, California, USA

Negroni Sbagliato
Created by: Mirko Stocchetti (1980s) at his Bar Basso, Milan, Italy

Nuclear Daiquiri
Created by: Gregor de Gruyther (2005) at LAB, London, England

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Oaxaca Old Fashioned
Created by: Phil Ward (2007) at Death & Co, New York City, USA

Old Cuban
Created by: Audrey Saunders (2001), Beacon/Tonic, New York City

Paloma
Created by: Don Javier Delgado Corona at La Capilla, Tequila, Mexico

Paper Plane
Created by: Sam Ross (2007) at The Violet Hour, Chicago, USA

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Penicillin
Created by: Sam Ross (2005), Milk & Honey, New York City, USA

Porn Star Martini
Created by: Douglas Ankrah (2002) at Townhouse, London, England

Red Hook
Created by: Vincenzo Errico (2003) at Milk & Honey, New York City, USA

Rum Old-fashioned
Created by: Goncalo de Sousa (2009), Belin, Germany

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Russian Spring Punch
Created by: Dick Bradsell (1980s) at Zanzibar or Fred's, London.

Sour Apple Martini
Created by: Loren Dunsworth and Adam Karsten (1997) at Lola's in West Hollywood, California, USA.

Tantris Sidecar
Created by: Audrey Saunders (2000) at Beacon, New York City, USA

Tommy's Margarita
Created by: Julio Bermejo (early 1990s) at Tommy's Mexican Restaurant, San Francisco, USA

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Trident
Created by: Robert Hess (2002) at Seattle, Washington, USA

Trinidad Sour
Created by: Giuseppe Gonzalez (2009) at Clover Club, Brooklyn, NY, USA

Twinkle
Created by: Tony Conigliaro (2002) at The Lonsdale, London, England

Vodka Espresso (Espresso Martini)
Created by: Dick Bradsell (1983) at the Soho Brasserie, London, England

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Watermelon Martini
Created by: Unknown (1990s), London, England

Whiskey Smash
Created by: Dale DeGroff (1998-1999), The Rainbow Room, New York City, USA

White Negroni
Created by: Wayne Collins (2001) at VinExpo, Bordeaux, France

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