In honor of The Late Show with David Letterman’s premier on CBS on August 30, 1993, The Intoxicologist site has chosen to run down a list of Top 10 Classic Cocktails as chosen by participants of a question asked on Twitter several weeks ago.  The question was simple: What are your top 10 favorite classic cocktails?  The answers below are the classic cocktail recipes that popped up in the Q&A discussion that 21 Must Try Classic Cocktail Recipes did not already cover.  Sample a few and see what you may be missing.

Blue Moon

Blue Moon - photo copyright Cheri Loughlin2 parts Gin

3/4 parts Parfait Amour

1/2 part Fresh Lemon Juice

1/2 Fresh Egg White

Orange Zest Twist Garnish

Combine all liquid ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice.  Shake to blend and chill.  Strain into a martini glass.  Garnish with a fresh orange twist that has been zested over the cocktail.

Classic Gimlet photo copyright Cheri LoughlinGimlet

3 parts Plymouth Gin

1 part Lime Cordial

Lime Wedge Garnish

Combine liquid ingredients in a cocktail shaker with ice.  Stir to blend and chill.  Strain into a martini glass.  Garnish with lime wedge.

The name sounds quite appropriate for a rainy day as does the color of this particular mixed drink.  However the flavor is not ‘easy, breezy, laid back’ in my opinion.  It is however pleasant.  Ginger beer packs a small wallop with its ginger kick and bubbly fizz.  The tingly effect definitely keeps one from drifting off into cozy slumber on a rainy afternoon.  Dark & Stormy is a great drink for an afternoon round at the pub if beer is not your thing.  It is also a great refreshing mixed drink that is quick and easy to whip up on a warm afternoon.

Dark & Stormy

Dark and Stormy - photo copyright Cheri Loughlin2 parts Goslings Black Seal Rum

4 parts Ginger Beer

Lime Wedge Garnish

Build in a Collins glass over fresh ice.  Garnish with a lime wedge.

Pimm’s Cup

1-1/2 ounce Pimm’s No. 1


Cucumber Spear & Green Apple Slice Garnish

Build over ice in a high ball glass.  Garnish with cucumber spear and green apple slice.

Some like full on absinthe in their Sazerac for bursting with flavor anise feel.  My preference follows the more subtle feel.  The recipe below gives the full amount of Pernod measurement but my choice was to use it as a wash in the glass.  If you prefer a little less sweet, go for the 1/4 ounce Simple Syrup.  You can always go back to add more in later.  The Sazerac is a New Orleans classic cocktail staple.  Sazerac Rye is traditional for use in this cocktail, however mine was built with (r1) Straight Rye Whiskey.  It is what was on hand and honestly, it tastes rather delicious!


2 ounces Rye Whiskey

1/4 to 1/2 ounce Simple Syrup

5 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters

2 dashes Angostura Bitters

1/4 ounce Absinthe

Lemon Twist Garnish

Pack a rocks glass with crushed ice.  Lace Pernod around outer edge of glass containing crushed ice.  Set aside.  Combine Rye Whiskey, simple syrup and bitters in a mixing glass with ice.  Shake to chill.  Toss Pernod laced ice out of chilled glass.  Strain contents of mixing glass into chilled rocks glass.  Zest fresh lemon twist over glass and garnish.

Hurricane – Dale DeGroff, The Essential Cocktail

Bacardi Hurricane Teenied - Lower Calorie - adapted by Cheri Loughlin - photo copyright Cheri Loughlin1 ounce Myers’s Dark Rum

1 ounce Light Rum

1/2 ounce Galliano

2 ounces Fresh Orange Juice

2 ounces Pineapple Juice

1 ounce Passion Fruit Nectar

3/4 ounce Fresh Lime Juice

1 ounce Simple Syrup

Dash Classic Bitters

Fresh Pineapple Garnish

Combine liquids in a mixing glass with ice.  Shake to blend and chill.  Strain into a ice-filled Hurricane glass.  Garnish with skewer of Pineapple.

According to the Bols Genever website The Holland House classic cocktail was the signature drink of the Holland House cocktail bar in New York.  Harry Craddock, most notable for is bartending days at the Savoy Hotel in London, once worked at the Holland House.  This cocktail comes across a bit strong with the lemon, possibly a little tart or sharp.  It is a favorite among many and being revived with the ‘newer’ styles of gin on the market that are less biting with their juniper tones and more rounded out with mellowing delicateness in the flavor.

Holland House 5 photo copyright Cheri LoughlinThe Holland House

1-3/4 parts Bols Genever

3/4 part Noilly Prat Dry Vermouth

1/2 part Fresh Lemon Juice

1/4 part Maraschino Liqueur

Lemon Zest Twist

Add ingredients to a mixing glass with ice.  Shake to chill.  Strain into a martini glass.  Garnish with lemon zest twist.

Moscow Mule

1-1/2 parts Vodka

4 parts Ginger Beer

Lime Wedge Garnish

Build over ice.  Garnish with a lime wedge.

Don the Beachcomber was a shrewd businessman who kept his drink recipes close to the chest without sharing them definitively with anyone.  For this simple reason his famous cocktails have been duplicated by bartenders worldwide, but none can claim to be the ‘original’ recipe.  There are many variations to the Zombie.  The recipe below is one that doesn’t come from a mix and is easier to assemble with ingredients one can find in relatively any market.   However, do check out the recipe Dale DeGroff puts together in his book, The Essential Cocktail.


Grateful Dead Halloween Drink - photo property of Cheri Loughlin1/4 ounce Fresh Squeezed Lime Juice

1/4 ounce Fresh Squeezed Lemon Juice

3/4 ounce Fresh Squeezed Orange Juice

3/4 ounce Fresh Passion Fruit Puree

1/4 ounce Grenedine

1/2 ounce Orange Curacao or Apricot Brandy

1 oz Dark Rum

1/2 ounce Light Rum

2 Dashes Classic Bitters

1/2 oz Overproof Rum such as 151 – Optional

Sprig of Fresh Mint  & Fresh fruit Garnish

Combine liquids in a cocktail shaker with ice.  Shake to blend and chill.  Strain into a tall thin glass filled two-thirds with ice.  Garnish with mint sprigs and fresh fruit.

Ramos Gin Fizz

2 parts Beefeater London Dry Gin

1 part Heavy Cream

1 Egg White

1/2 part Simple Syrup

1/2 part Lemon Juice

1/2 part Lime Juice

3 Drops Orange Flower Water

1 part Club Soda

Lemon Wheel Garnish

Combine all ingredients (except soda water & garnish) in a cocktail shaker with ice.  Strain into a highball glass filled with fresh ice.  Top with club soda.  Garnish with lemon wheel.

And just because someone always has to get in The Last Word… there are actually eleven cocktail recipes on this list thanks to Chartreuse guru, Todd Richman.

The Last Word

3/4 part Gin

3/4 part Green Chartreuse

3/4 part Luxardo Maraschino Liqueur

3/4 part Fresh Lime Juice

Lime Wedge Garnish

Combine liquid ingredients in a mixing glass with ice.  Shake or stir to blend and chill.  Strain into a martini glass.  Garnish with lime wedge.

Find more Classic Cocktails by following the link.

Thanks to Tom – cigarsmokingman, Jeff – undertakingbar, Steff – SteffChilds, Kathleen – CieloGold, rev_rum, Jim – jimmath, and Todd Richman for their participation in answering an informal question on my Twitter and Facebook page about top ten favorite classic cocktails.  If you have more classic cocktail recipes to add to the list, please email me at  I am always on the lookout to add more classic drink recipes to The Intoxicologist site as well as reader favorites.  Please feel free to send along your photos, too.

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Top 10 Classic Cocktails