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10 Cocktails Bartenders Actually Order

When it comes to mixed drinks, who better to trust than the people who make them for a living? Bartenders have a unique insight into the world of cocktails, understanding both the complexity of flavors and the craftsmanship that goes into making a great drink.

While they spend their workdays crafting drinks for others, what do they prefer when it’s their turn to enjoy a cocktail? Here’s a list of 10 cocktails that bartenders often order, providing a glimpse into their personal preferences and offering some inspiration for your next drink order.

1. Negroni

  • Ingredients: Gin, Campari, Sweet Vermouth
  • Why Bartenders Love It: The Negroni is a classic cocktail that balances sweetness, bitterness, and herbal notes. Bartenders appreciate its simplicity and the way its three ingredients work harmoniously together. It’s a perfect aperitif and a staple in any cocktail enthusiast’s repertoire.

2. Old Fashioned

  • Ingredients: Bourbon or Rye Whiskey, Sugar, Bitters
  • Why Bartenders Love It: The Old Fashioned is a testament to the idea that less is more. It’s a straightforward cocktail that highlights the whiskey’s quality and flavor profile, making it a favorite among bartenders who appreciate whiskey’s nuances.

3. Manhattan

  • Ingredients: Whiskey, Sweet Vermouth, Bitters
  • Why Bartenders Love It: A Manhattan is elegant and timeless. It’s a bit more complex than an Old Fashioned but still lets the whiskey shine. Bartenders often gravitate towards this drink for its perfect balance of sweetness and bitterness.

4. Daiquiri

  • Ingredients: Rum, Lime Juice, Sugar
  • Why Bartenders Love It: The classic Daiquiri, not to be confused with its frozen counterpart, is a simple yet sophisticated cocktail. It’s all about the balance of the rum’s sweetness with the tartness of the lime juice, and bartenders often appreciate this simplicity and brightness.

5. Martini

  • Ingredients: Gin or Vodka, Dry Vermouth
  • Why Bartenders Love It: A Martini is one of the most iconic cocktails and for a good reason. It’s versatile and customizable, allowing the drinker to play with the gin-to-vermouth ratio and garnishes. Bartenders often respect this cocktail for its elegance and the skill required to make it well.

6. Margarita

  • Ingredients: Tequila, Lime Juice, Triple Sec
  • Why Bartenders Love It: A well-made Margarita is a balance of sweet, sour, and salty flavors. It’s a festive cocktail that’s enjoyable year-round, and bartenders often order it for its refreshing qualities and the way it highlights the tequila.

7. Sazerac

  • Ingredients: Cognac or Rye Whiskey, Absinthe, Sugar, Bitters
  • Why Bartenders Love It: The Sazerac is a New Orleans classic known for its complexity and depth. It’s a cocktail with a rich history, and bartenders often order it for its unique flavor profile and the ritual involved in its preparation.

8. Mojito

  • Ingredients: White Rum, Sugar, Lime Juice, Soda Water, Mint
  • Why Bartenders Love It: The Mojito is refreshing and vibrant, perfect for hot summer days. Bartenders appreciate the Mojito for its fresh flavors and the way the mint complements the rum.

9. French 75

  • Ingredients: Gin, Lemon Juice, Sugar, Champagne
  • Why Bartenders Love It: The French 75 is a celebratory cocktail that combines the botanicals of gin with the crispness of champagne. It’s a favorite for bartenders who enjoy a drink that’s both refreshing and sophisticated.

10. Whiskey Sour

  • Ingredients: Whiskey, Lemon Juice, Sugar, Egg White (optional)
  • Why Bartenders Love It: The Whiskey Sour is a classic cocktail that’s both easy to drink and complex in flavor. Bartenders respect this cocktail for its balance of sweetness and tartness, and the optional egg white adds a smooth texture that elevates the drink.


These 10 cocktails are favorites among bartenders for their balance, complexity, and the craftsmanship required to make them well. Whether you’re a cocktail aficionado or just looking to try something new, these drinks are a great starting point.

Remember, a key part of enjoying these cocktails is the experience and the ambiance, so next time you visit a bar, consider trying one of these bartender-approved cocktails and savor the artistry that goes into each glass.

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