7 greatest cocktails of all time

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Unlike other "Magnificent Seven" lists which are hotly debated and argued over hundreds of potential candidates, I feel the "seven greatest cocktails of all time" is a list drink aficionados will largely find agreement over. At least, proposing the following seven contenders, I very much hope so.

The following Magnificent Seven Cocktails are presented in order of linage according to their presumed dates of origin. Six are well-established vintage classics while the last, Dick Bradsell's Espresso Martini is a contemporary classic but one that I feel will stand the test of decades to come. Other contemporary contenders that didn't make the cut include the Tommy's Margarita (as that is a riff on one of the Magnificent Seven below), the Cosmopolitan (already looking like it has failed the test of time), and the Porn Star Martini (that will surely fail the test of time).

Vintage classics also considered include the Mojito, Mint Julep and White Lady. As well as a bunch of Highballs that many would argue are mixed drinks rather than 'cocktails', such as the G&T, Scotch & Soda and the Cuba Libre.

Every bartender should have mastered their rendition of these Magnificent Seven Cocktails and for home cocktail enthusiasts these make a great cocktail list to offer friends and family without calling for a huge shopping list of ingredients (see shopping list at foot of this page). With most calling for just three ingredients, the recipes are easy to follow and the stories behind each make for an interesting read that can be recounted across a bar.

Magnificent Seven Cocktails

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Old Fashioned

Made with: Bourbon (and/or rye whiskey but OK with 100% bourbon), sugar syrup and angostura bitters.
How to make an Old Fashioned & recipe
Story behind the Old Fashioned

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Manhattan

Made with: Bourbon, sweet vermouth and angostura bitters
How to make a Manhattan & recipe
Story behind the Manhattan

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Dry Martini

Made with: Dry gin, dry vermouth and orange bitters
How to make a Dry Martini & recipe
Story behind the Dry Martini

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Daiquiri

Made with: Light rum, lime juice and sugar
How to make a Daiquiri & recipe
Story behind the Daiquiri

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Negroni

Made with: equal parts dry gin, Italian red bitters and rosso (sweet) vermouth)
How to make a Negroni & recipe
Story behind the Negroni

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Margarita

Made with: Tequila, triple sec, lime juice, agave syrup and salt
How to make a Margarita & recipe
Story behind the Margarita

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Espresso Martini

Made with: Vodka, espresso coffee, coffee liqueur and salt
How to make an Espresso Martini & recipe
Story behind the Espresso Martini

Shopping list

Booze & bitters

  • Bourbon
  • Dry gin
  • Tequila (reposado)
  • Vodka
  • Light rum
  • Triple sec liqueur
  • Coffee liqueur
  • Italian red bitter liqueur
  • Dry vermouth
  • Rosso (sweet) vermouth
  • Angostura-style aromatic bitters
  • Orange bitters

Fridge & pantry

For garnishes

  • Fresh oranges (for zest twists)
  • Maraschino cherries
  • Olives &/or fresh lemons (for Dry Martini)
  • Coffee beans for Espresso Martini

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