Our 10 Most Popular Cocktail Recipes of 2016

Blue cocktail garnished with an orchid
Pacific Wave, a beach-ready blue cocktail created by Andrew Larson for The Nolen in San Diego. Photo by Jim Sullivan.

We’re proud to feature recipes from bars and bartenders worldwide on our site. These recipes run the gamut from supremely complex to remarkably simple, with sub-recipes for unique ingredients like interesting syrups and tinctures and stunning ideas for extraordinary garnishes and striking presentation. Like all that we do at Tales of the Cocktail, these recipes are meant to make you a better bartender by offering you vital inspiration and information. We’ve rounded up the 10 most popular recipes we published in 2016.

1. Pacific Wave

This year we professed our undying love for blue cocktails. They offer a needed dose of fun and whimsy in a world that can be all too serious. And at their best, these drinks can transport you to a simpler time. The Pacific Wave, as crafted by Andrew Larson at The Nolen in San Diego, does just that. With Bacardi Superior, grapefruit liqueur, lemon juice and that all-important blue curacao, it just might be the next-best thing to an afternoon spent seaside.

2. Sea Cubed

Cocktail with seaweed ice cube. The Sea Cubed cocktail brings a special sort of terroir, using sea salt and seaweed in a drink served at George's at the Cove, next to San Diego's renowned beachfront. Photo by Jim Sullivan.

Speaking of a drink by the sea, Sea Cubed takes it one step further. This cocktail is actually a drink of the sea. Created by bartender Stephen Kurpinsky of George’s at the Cove in San Diego, the central element of the cocktail is an ice cube composed of local saltwater and seaweed, both taken from La Jolla cove. With mango, lime and chile-infused Cimarrón Blanco, lime juice and agave syrup poured on top of the finely crafted sea cube, the cocktail is a more exotic take on the margarita.

3. The Bumblebee

A cocktail with purple orbs on top. Housemade "cocktail caviar" floats atop the Bumblebee cocktail for an effect that's just as beautiful as it is delicious. Photo by Elizabeth Rushe.

Let’s face it, most great bartenders feel a little like a mad scientist from time to time. Innovation, after all, is impossible without experimentation. Imagine our excitement when we learned about Zyankali, a bar themed as a mad scientist’s lair in Berlin. The thematic drinks don’t disappoint — bartender and owner Tom Zyankali, who has a background in engineering, demonstrated his intricate means of crafting The Bumblebee, which includes elderberry flavored “cocktail caviar.” Interested? We thought so.

4. Chartreuse Milkshake

Alcoholic milkshake on a marble tabletop A grown-up Crème de Cacao-based milkshake made with Malagasy Chocolate Bitters.

Growing up is never easy. Gone are the days when you could drink milkshakes by the gallon without thinking twice. By no coincidence, some of our favorite cocktails strike a resemblance to the treats that delighted us as children. Such is the case with the Chartreuse Milkshake, a creation by award winning bartender and co-owner of Bittered Sling, Lauren Mote. This stunner combines Crème de Cacao, gin, Green Chartreuse, Bittered Sling Malagasy Chocolate Bitters, citrus and an egg white for a perfectly frothed milkshake that will make you rejoice to be a grown up.

5. Surfer Rosa

Yanni Kehagiaras slides his finished Surfer Rosa cocktail across the bar Despite having a fruity appearance, the Surfer Rosa is actually smokey, slightly tannic and bone dry. Photo by Jim Sullivan.

Sometimes great cocktails begin with making a beautiful ingredient. Surfer Rosa, a cocktail by Yanni Kehagiaras, bar manager at San Francisco's Liholiho Yacht Club, begins with Kehagiaras’s masterfully hibiscus-infused mezcal, which bares a brilliant fuchsia hue and floral flavor. Combined with lemon juice, Punt e Mes, Benedictine and soda water, the Surfer Rosa is the perfect balance of bitter, floral and herbal flavors. Plus, we dig an homage to The Pixies.

6. El Burro Catalan

The official Tales of the Cocktail 2016® winning cocktail recipe, El Burro Catalan by Angel Teta of Portland, Oregon. Photo Credit Carly Diaz. The official Tales of the Cocktail 2016® winning cocktail recipe, El Burro Catalan by Angel Teta of Portland, Oregon. Photo Credit Carly Diaz.

At Tales of the Cocktail, it was the year of the Mule. We called for bartenders worldwide to submit their take on the Moscow Mule, and the winning submission was served at our annual festival in New Orleans. El Burro Catalan, created by Angel Teta of Portland, Oregon, took the cake with its exquisite combination of vodka, sherry, cranberry and ginger beer, and now you can relive #TOTC2016 every time you whip up this refreshing updated Mule.

7. Negroni Bianco

A cocktail garnished with flowers in a coupe glass. The Negroni Bianco is an instant classic. Photos courtesy of Caffe Dante.

Another “twisted classic,” in the words of its creator Naren Young, this herbal and bitter masterpiece brings together a few of our great loves: gin, dry and bianco vermouth and Quinquina. We think this updated standard deserves its own place in the cocktail canon.

8. Snapdragon

Twelve Mile Limit's Snapdragon cocktail You know it's a party when Midori is involved. Photo: Sharon Pye Photography.

This spin on a daiquiri by Cole Newton of Twelve Mile Limit has the classic makings of a party in a cup. Bring together Midori, Grande Liqueur de Sapins, cachaça and lime, and you’re bound to begin a wild time.

9. Hair of the Wolf

A cocktail in a rocks glass, slightly overflowing with beer foam. The Hair of the Wolf will cure whatever ails you.

In this cocktail by Nate Shuman of Atlanta's Proof & Provision, espresso, stout beer and Scotch come together to remedy whatever damage was done the night before or you're just getting a big night started. Try not to drool as you watch one of our most tantalizing videos, in which Shuman shows us how to make this highly craveable cocktail.

10. Venceremos

Bacardi rum cocktail Gn Chan's Venceremos combines Bacardi Carta Blanca with coconut, pineapple, cucumber and lime. Gn and his drink took home the win at this year's Bacardí Legacy Global Cocktail Competition, one of the highest honors in the industry.

Gn Chan, winner of the 2016 Bacardí Legacy Global Cocktail competition, grew up in a family that didn’t drink. He came from Taiwan to the United States, where he began his bartending career at Angel’s Share in New York City. But it was a trip to Santiago de Cuba that inspired his highly acclaimed cocktail, Venceremos. This twist on the piña colada gives a nod to Cuban cocktail culture, while featuring a prominent Asian flavor combination — cucumber and sesame.

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