Words by: Simon Difford
As in previous years, the following ‘Top 100 Cocktails from 2018’ are mainly based on the number of visits to individual cocktail pages on this website but we’ve also take into account frequency of appearance on cocktail menus in bars in Europe, North America and Asia.
Yet again, of the nearly 5,000 cocktails on Difford's Guide, the Porn Star Martini was the most viewed by far, hundreds of thousands of page views ahead of the next most popular cocktail.
However, it is our second most visited cocktail, the Snowball, that is the surprise riser with our second recipe for the same drink also coming in at 52nd place. Even these combined page views don’t touch the Porn Star but it blows out big name Classics such as the Negroni. That said, in the list below we have knocked the Snowball back as we don’t believe its popularity on Difford’s Guide is reflective of its general popularity. Although, come Christmas untold numbers of UK households celebrate with a Snowball.
The perceived trend towards non-alcoholic cocktails is yet to play out on Difford’s Guide with the most popular soft cocktail of 2017, the Apple Virgin Mojito Cocktail falling from 80th most viewed to 234th place during 2018.
Stand-out risers and cocktails to watch below include Cantaritos, Bernice, Vieux Carre and a host of 1980s disco drinks led by the Screaming Orgasm and the Slow Screw.
The list below comprises truly international traffic but with the UK and USA jointly making up a little over 50% of our traffic. Other lists, such as Google’s which has the Irish Car Bomb in 10th place seem more US centric. How this drink would have done on Difford’s Guide we’ll never know due to its name being in such bad taste that we’ve refused to list it.
Each country has specific drinks that do well and have an overall influence. This is neatly illustrated in the listing of the top 20 cocktails during 2018 on Difford's Guide Brasil. It's in Portugeuse but the drink names and places tell the tale.
Below I talk about places in the top 100 and also positions as page views on this website. Although we use these page views to calculate where cocktails appear in the top 100 the two don’t directly correlate, mainly due to our aggregating page views from cocktails where we have different recipes for the same named drink. Anyway, the numbers show trends and show what cocktails are enjoying new or renewed popularity.
1. Porn Star Martini - the most visited cocktail on Difford's Guide for a fourth year. Proof that either sex sells or folk like vanilla flavoured vodka, vanilla syrup and passion fruit liqueur. And indeed, these three products are our best sellers via the site in the UK.
2. Margaritas and Tommy's Margaritas - continue to drive tequila sales. Tommy's Margarita receives more hits than the classic Margaritas (straight-up, on-the-rocks and frozen) combined on Difford's Guide.
3. White Lady - this vintage classic continues to rise up this chart - up from 9th place in 2017, again perhaps helped by the popularity of gin.
4. Amaretto Sour - the 5th most visited cocktail on Difford's Guide during 2017 down from 2nd place but with the better Morgenthaler Formula version of the same drink coming in at 66th place. We’ve aggregated to 4th place.
5. Penicillin - this whisky-based cocktail was the 7th most viewed on Difford's Guide during 2017 (up one place from 2016) and we saw it on many more bar menus during 2018.
6. Bramble - gin's popularity across Europe helps drive this contemporary classic. It’s the first of two drinks by the legendary Dick Bradsell in the top ten and swaps places with Dick's Espresso Martini from 2017.
7. Espresso Martini Not actually a 'Martini' at all but this stimulating cocktail is fabulous all the same (yes, I know it should be called a 'Vodka Espresso' but the word 'Martini' has stuck).
8. Cantaritos - Millions of Mexicans can't be wrong! This rustic tequila classic was the 7th most viewed cocktail on Difford's Guide during 2018 (up from 9th in 2017 and 13th in 2016). Tequila brands have been surprisingly slow to pick up on this POS opportunity.
9. Negroni - It is now more than just bartenders who enjoy this easy to make equal parts bittersweet drink.
10. Screaming Orgasm - the Porn Star Martini isn't the only lewd named cocktail that proved popular during 2018. Screaming Orgasm was our 9th most viewed cocktail (up from 17th in 2017).
11. Slow Comfortable Screw Against The Wall - while bars strive to write highfalutin menus with sophisticated drinks made using house-made ingredients, it would appear many consumers are looking for something a lot more basic. This was the 10th most visited cocktail on Difford's Guide during 2018 (up from 12th in 2017 and 15th in 2016).
12. Dirty Banana - helped by a One Direction blog referring to Harry Styles, this continues to be one of the most visited cocktails on Difford's Guide. Indeed, the Dirty Banana is now our 12th most viewed cocktail, down from 6th in 2017.
13. Daiquiri - the Hemingway Special helps drive the combined Daiquiri category and the Hemingway remains the most popular style of Daiquiri on Difford's Guide at 25th most viewed cocktail during 2018 (down 1 place since 2017 and 11 places since 2016). I hate to say this but based on our page views the Daiquiri is waning in popularity. Hence, we have moved the Daiquiri from 12th down to 13th place. However, as folk look to avoid sugar in their cocktails watch out for the Honeysuckle Daiquiri which is quickly rising and 73rd most visited during 2018.
14. Mexican Mule - Summer 2016 saw the Moscow Mule climb in popularity but now variations such as this tequila-based mule have knocked the vodka-based version back.
15. Mai Tai - commonplace on bar menus around the world, helped by the Tiki revival. Trader Vic's recipe is by far the most popular on Difford's Guide and the 22nd most viewed cocktail during 2018 (down two places from 2017).
16. Bernice. The highest chart entry during 2017 when this rediscovered vodka classic came from nowhere straight into our top 40. During 2018 it continued to rise and was our 14th most viewed cocktail during 2018.
17. Snowball - such is the growing popularity of this drink each Christmas with home cocktail makers that we felt it deserved a higher place in the top 20. Traffic during Christmas 2018 propelled the original recipe to be the 2nd most viewed on Difford’s Guide (up from 11th place (in 2018 and 23rd in 2017) with my own Champagne Snowball recipe rising from 59th to 52nd most visited.
18. Manhattan - We've combined Dry, Perfect and Sweet serves to bring the Manhattan in at No. 18 (down 8 places from 2017), but the Sweet Manhattan is by far the most popular on Difford's Guide (the 28th most visited cocktail during 2018, down from 19th in 2017).
19. Gin Basil Smash - this tasty gin-based cocktail is down from 16th place in 2017 but up from 33rd place on 2016s chart.
20. Dry Martini - the various styles of Martini such as Vodkatini and Vesper combine to push the Dry Martini near the top of our chart.
22. Corpse Reviver - This drink has grown massively in popularity, up from 100th place on this list in 2016. Of the various recipes it is the No.2 (Savoy Recipe) that is by far most popular on Difford's Guide, that version alone was our 18th most viewed cocktail during 2018.
24. Aviation - this gin classic was the 21st most viewed cocktail on Difford's Guide during 2018 and 2017, up one place from 2016 and three places from 2015.
26. Bloody Mary - An incredibly popular cocktail in North America and the UK, and even on aeroplanes making the transatlantic crossing between the two. However, it is less popular elsewhere and languished at 157th place on Difford's Guide during 2018 (151st in 2017 and 146th in 2016). Despite this, the Bloody Mary's popularity in pubs and restaurants, and frequency of appearance on menus, leads us to place this brunch classic in our top 30, slightly down from last year’s 19th position.
27. Vieux Carré - another cocktail from New Orleans. The 15th most viewed cocktail on Difford's Guide. Surely bartender driven.
28. Paloma - up from 41st place in 2017 and 56th place in 2016.
29. Cosmopolitan - Bartenders may have moved on but consumers still appreciate this well-balanced cocktail which is up from 32nd place.
30. Old-Fashioned - we've taken the Maple Old-Fashioned and Benton's Old-Fashioned page views into account but they are not enough to stem a big fall from 10th place in 2017
31. Long Island Iced Tea - an oldie but up from 44th place in 2017 and 85th place in 2016.
32. Zombie - up from 59 in 2017 and 69 in 2016. Tiki is back.
33. Mojito - the Mojito fell dramatically out of favour and during 2016 becoming the 76th most viewed cocktail on Difford's Guide. However, during 2017 it recovered to 49th most viewed and continued to gain in 2018 to end up 44th most viewed.
34. Trinidad Sour. Great for sales of Angostura.
35. Limoncello Spritz - New entry! Limoncello and the Spritz are on trend.
36. Breakfast Martini - pretty static in the mid-30s position from 2016 through to 2018.
37. Southside - another consistent performer in the mid-30s over the past few years.
38. Boulevardier - down just one place.
39. Whiskey Sour - up from 49th place in 2017 and 89th place in 2016.
40. Spritz - we've grouped Aperol Spritz and Spritz al Bitter (our favourite) together but the dramatic recovery in popularity on this list is driven by a resurgence in the Aperol Spriz. And my own Parma Violet Spritz was the 79th most visted recipe in 2018.
41. French 76 - New entry! This vodka-based version has risen well ahead of the more traditional gin based French 75.
42. San Francisco - New entry! Fruity vodka-based drinks are back – if indeed they ever went away.
43. Americano - up from 47th place in 2017 and 55th place in 2016.
44. Brandy Crusta - up one place.
45. Hand Grenade - New entry!
46. Rattlesnake Shot - New entry!
47. Old Cuban - the 26th most viewed cocktail on Difford's Guide during 2017 but down to the 50th in 2018.
48. Lynchburg Lemonade - Another Jack drink and a consistent performer in the middle order with 34th place in 2017, 31st in 2016, 41st in 2015 and 72nd in 2014.
49. Gin Sour New entry! Narrowly outside the top 100 in 2017.
50. Fitzgerald - a new entry at 81st place in 2017 this gin-based cocktail by Dale DeGroff continued to rise during 2018.
51. Brooklyn - down from 40th place.
52. White Negroni - down from 43rd place in 2017 but Negroni variations continue trending and this gentian influenced version remains the most popular.
53. Blood & Sand - down from 48th place.
54. Piña Colada - up from 60th place in 2017 and 68th place in 2016.
57. Army & Navy - 55th place in 2017 and 86th place in 2016.
58. French 75 - Up from 59 but behind the vodka based French 76. We've also noticed the elderflower based French 77 doing well (it’s our 209th most viewed cocktail).
59. Sazerac - Louisiana's official state cocktail is now also being enjoyed elsewhere in the world, but it's down from 46th place in 2017 and 21st place in 2016.
60. Missionary's Downfall - The Tiki revival has pushed this up from 80th place in 2016. It was in 57 place in 2017.
61. Vodka Sour - up from 91st place in 2017.
62. Tom Collins - up from 67 in 2017 and 75 in 2016.
63. Elderflower Collins - down from 56th place in 2017.
64. Naked & Famous - New entry from just outside the top 100 in 2018, this contemporary classic is fast rising in popularity.
65. Paper Plane New entry!
66. Gin & It. The rise in popularity of both gin and vermouth has helped propel the simple Gin & It from 86th place in 2016 to 38th in 2017 but it fell again in 2018.
67. Jack's Godfather - Jack Daniel's is one of the world's best-selling spirits brands, people love the almondy taste of amaretto, and they like cola. This drink has all three. However, it’s down from 33rd place in 2017 when it was the 28th most viewed cocktail on Difford's Guide.
68. Honeysuckle Daiquiri - new entry!
70. Mint Julep - a great drink served in a fancy tin but down from 42nd place in 2017.
71. Charlie Chaplin Cocktail - a sloe gin-based classic that joined this chart in 2017.
72. Bobby Burns - a new entry in 2017 and up two places during 2018.
73. Mary Pickford - down from 62 in 2017 and 72nd place in 2016.
74. Bradford Martini - New entry. Proof that may prefer their Martini shaken rather than stirred.
75. Jamaican Mule - this Mule is down from 65th place in 2017 and 53rd place in 2016.
76. Milano Torino - Entered at 98th place in 2017 and rising fast.
77. Blazer (Blue Blazer) - down from 61nd place in 2017.
78. Singapore Sling - same position as in 2017.
79. Rusty Nail - New entry!
80. Russian Spring Punch - yet another Dick Bradsell cocktail in the top 100. The Russian Spring Punch has previously always been in our top 70 most visited cocktails.
81. Fish House Punch - a new entry in 2017. The punch bowl remains on trend!
83. Casino - New entry!
84. Vodka Collins - down from 58th place in 2017.
85. Sidecar - down just two places from 2017 but from 67th position in 2016.
86. Caipirinha - the 2016 Olympics helped drive this cocktail to 38th place that year.
87. P.S. I Love You - you'd feel a lemon calling out this order at a bar, but it's not a bad drink and is very popular on Valentine's Day.
88. Between the Sheets - New entry!
89. Nuclear Daiquiri - a new entry at 94th place in 2017.
90. Brandy Alexander - down from 77th place in 2017.
91. Sex on the Beach - New entry!
92. Final Ward - the most popular of the Last Word riffs.
93. Moscow Mule - we noticed a huge resurgence for this drink during 2015. However, during late 2016 and throughout 2017 this vodka-based Mule has plummeted while other spirit based Mules have grown, most notably the Mexican Mule. This trend continued in 2018 as the Moscow Mule dropped 50th place in 2017.
94. Jammie Dodger - down from 69th place in 2017.
95. Tequila Sour - New entry! (Arguably a Tommy’s Margarita is a Tequila Sour and not a Margarita).
97. New York Sour - little change from 2017 when it was a new entry.
98. Fat Tire - a new entry in 2017 with its position little changed in 2018.
99. Bronx - a new entry at 88th place in 2017 but now struggling to stay in.
100. Garibaldi - a New Entry thanks to Dante’s fluffy orange juice.