Top 15 Most Popular Cocktails & Cocktail Recipes in the United States

Today, we welcome party people and cocktail enthusiasts! Join us as we countdown the Top 15 most popular cocktails & cocktail recipes in the United States. Grab your shakers and garnishes, folks, it’s time to raise your glasses and toast to the classics that make every sip a tiny celebration! Let’s get started!

What Makes a Cocktail “Popular?”

For the purposes of this post, a “popular” cocktail is one that ranks higher in the search engines. This may be due for any number of reasons, including:

  • Social media discussion
  • The cocktail simply being a delicious standby
  • Celebrity-backing spirits or mixers
  • Seasonal shifts and holidays
  • And many more factors

This list was compiled on August 9th, 2023 and is representative of the current season and social climate. Keep in mind that rankings may change after this blog has been posted.

Summer 2023’s Top 15 Most Popular Cocktails

#15: Tequila Sunrise

The Tequila Sunrise is a captivating cocktail that effortlessly combines the refreshing zing of citrus with the mellow warmth of tequila. As the name suggests, this drink boasts a stunning gradient of colors, mimicking the breathtaking sunrise hues. With its sweet and tangy taste, it’s no wonder the Tequila Sunrise has become a beloved favorite among cocktail enthusiasts.

Tequila Sunrise Recipe

  1. Fill a glass with ice cubes to the top.
  2. Pour in 2 oz tequila and 4 oz orange juice, stirring gently to combine.
  3. Slowly pour ½ oz grenadine over the back of a spoon so that it sinks to the bottom of the glass, creating a gradient effect.
  4. Garnish with an orange slice and a maraschino cherry.

#14: The Martini

A harmonious blend of gin (or vodka) and vermouth, this cocktail showcases the beauty of simplicity. Whether you prefer it shaken or stirred, with an olive or a twist of lemon, the martini is a symbol of understated elegance that continues to captivate cocktail enthusiasts around the world.

Related: Are Vodka and Gin the Same?

Martini Recipe

  1. Chill a martini glass in the freezer or by filling it with ice water.
  2. Fill a mixing glass with ice cubes.
  3. Pour 2 ½ oz gin (or vodka) and ½ oz dry vermouth over the ice.
  4. Stir gently with a bar spoon for about 30 seconds to chill and dilute the mixture.
  5. Discard the ice from the martini glass.
  6. Strain the cocktail into the chilled martini glass.
  7. Garnish with a twist of lemon or an olive.

#13: The Bloody Mary

With a base of tomato juice, a kick of vodka, and a medley of spices, it’s a bold and balanced concoction that’s perfect for those who like a little adventure with their sips. The Bloody Mary’s distinctive flavor and satisfying tang make it a perennial favorite.

Bloody Mary Recipe

  1. Fill a shaker with ice.
  2. Pour in 2 oz vodka, 4 oz tomato juice, ½ oz lemon juice, a dash of Worcestershire sauce, and a dash of hot sauce.
  3. Add a pinch of salt and black pepper for seasoning.
  4. Shake well to mix and chill.
  5. Strain the mixture into a glass filled with ice.
  6. Garnish with a celery stalk, lemon wedge, and any other preferred garnishes.

#12: The Mai Tai

Originating from the tiki culture of the mid-20th century, the Mai Tai brings together the rich and enticing flavors of rum, citrus, and almond. Sip on this delightful concoction and let its tropical essence transport you to sandy shores, swaying palm trees, and the gentle lull of ocean waves.

Mai Tai Recipe

  1. Fill a shaker with ice cubes.
  2. Pour in 2 oz light rum, ¾ oz lime juice, ½ oz orange curaçao, and ½ oz orgeat syrup.
  3. Shake well until chilled.
  4. Fill a glass with crushed ice.
  5. Strain the cocktail over the ice in the glass.
  6. Float 1 oz  dark rum on top by gently pouring it over the back of a spoon.
  7. Garnish with a pineapple slice and maraschino cherry.

#11: The White Russian

With its creamy blend of vodka and coffee liqueur (like Kahlua), topped off with a layer of rich cream, the White Russian is a simple yet indulgent treat that’s both comforting and satisfying. It’s like a dessert in a glass, making it a favorite after-dinner sipper or a luxurious nightcap.

White Russian Recipe

  1. Fill an old-fashioned glass (or a rocks glass) with ice cubes.
  2. Pour 1 ½ oz vodka and ¾ oz coffee liqueur into the glass.
  3. Gently stir the mixture to combine the flavors.
  4. Slowly pour ¾ oz heavy cream over the back of a spoon to create a layered effect on top of the drink.

#10: Long Island Iced Tea

This deceptive cocktail blends together a whole crew of spirits – vodka, tequila, rum, gin, and triple sec – with a splash of sour mix and cola. Despite its name, there’s actually no tea in this potent concoction. The result? A smooth yet strong drink that packs a punch without shouting about it.

Long Island Iced Tea Recipe

  1. Fill a shaker with ice cubes.
  2. Pour in ½ oz vodka, ½ oz tequila, ½ oz rum, ½ oz gin, ½ oz triple sec, and ¾ oz sour mix.
  3. Shake well to combine the flavors.
  4. Strain the mixture into a highball glass filled with ice.
  5. Top off the glass with cola, leaving a bit of room at the top.
  6. Give it a gentle stir to mix.
  7. Garnish with a lemon wedge.

#9: The Manhattan

With a base of rye or bourbon whiskey, a touch of sweet vermouth, and a dash of aromatic bitters, this classic elixir is a harmonious blend of bold flavors. Served in a chilled martini glass and garnished with a cherry, the Manhattan embodies a perfect balance of strength and refinement, making it a staple in cocktail culture.

Manhattan Recipe

  1. Fill a mixing glass with ice cubes.
  2. Pour in 2 oz rye or bourbon whiskey, 1 oz sweet vermouth, and 2 dashes of aromatic bitters.
  3. Stir gently with a bar spoon for about 30 seconds to chill and dilute the mixture.
  4. Strain the cocktail into a chilled martini glass.
  5. Garnish with a maraschino cherry.

#8: The Mimosa

A mimosa is the quintessential brunch companion, offering a refreshing and elegant way to start the day. This simple yet sophisticated cocktail combines the crisp effervescence of champagne with the vibrant tang of freshly squeezed orange juice. It’s a timeless favorite that adds a touch of class to any morning gathering or celebratory occasion.

Mimosa Recipe

Ratio: 2 parts champagne or sparkling wine: 1 part fresh orange juice.

  1. Chill your champagne flutes in the fridge for about 15 minutes before preparing the cocktails.
  2. Pour the freshly squeezed orange juice into the flute, filling it about one-third full.
  3. Slowly pour the champagne or sparkling wine on top of the orange juice. The gentle mixing of the two liquids will create a beautiful gradient effect.
  4. Give it a gentle stir with a cocktail stirrer or a swizzle stick if desired.
  5. Garnish with a slice of orange.

#7: The Cosmopolitan

The cosmopolitan, affectionately known as the “cosmo,” is a sophisticated and stylish cocktail that has become a symbol of chic city living. Served in a martini glass and often garnished with a twist of citrus, this cocktail has a great balance of sweet and tart flavors.

Cosmopolitan Recipe

  1. Fill a cocktail shaker with ice cubes.
  2. Pour in 1 ½ oz vodka, 1 oz cranberry juice, ½ oz orange liqueur, and ½ oz lime juice.
  3. Shake vigorously for about 15 seconds to chill and thoroughly mix the ingredients.
  4. Strain the mixture into a chilled martini glass.
  5. Garnish with an orange or lime twist by gently squeezing it over the drink to release its aromatic oils. You can drop the twist into the glass or let it rest on the rim.

#6: The Espresso Martini

This sophisticated sipper offers a delightful balance of smooth vodka, the bold bitterness of espresso, and a touch of sweetness. Whether you’re a coffee enthusiast seeking a caffeinated twist or a cocktail lover looking to perk up your evening, the Espresso Martini is here to amuse you.

Espresso Martini Recipe

  1. Brew a shot of espresso and allow it to cool.
  2. Fill a shaker with ice cubes.
  3. Add 1 ½ oz vodka, your cooled espresso, ½ oz coffee liqueur, and ½ oz simple syrup to the shaker.
  4. Shake vigorously until well chilled.
  5. Strain the mixture into a chilled martini glass.
  6. Garnish with a few coffee beans on top.

#5: The Moscow Mule

A harmonious blend of vodka, ginger beer, and a squeeze of lime, this cocktail is served in a classic copper mug that keeps it frosty and oh-so Instagram-worthy. With its tangy-sweet flavor and slight spiciness, the Moscow Mule is a true crowd-pleaser.

Moscow Mule Recipe

  1. Fill a copper mug (or glass of your choice) with ice cubes.
  2. Pour in 2 oz vodka and ½ oz freshly squeezed lime juice.
  3. Top it off with 4 oz ginger beer, pouring slowly to avoid excessive foaming.
  4. Give it a gentle stir to combine the flavors.
  5. Garnish with a lime wedge for that extra citrusy touch.

#4: The Negroni

A classic Negroni is a testament to the beauty of simplicity, making it a favorite among cocktail enthusiasts. With its measured bitterness, herbal depth, and a citrusy twist, the Negroni is a sip of history that transports you to the bustling bars of early 20th-century Italy.

Negroni Recipe

  1. Fill a mixing glass with ice.
  2. Pour in 1 oz gin, 1 oz Campari, and 1 oz sweet vermouth.
  3. Stir gently until well-chilled.
  4. Strain the mixture into a rocks glass filled with ice.
  5. Express the oils from an orange twist over the drink by giving it a twist over the glass and dropping it in.

#3: The Mojito

Originating in Cuba, this iconic cocktail is a delightful fusion of minty freshness, zesty lime, and a touch of sweetness. It’s like a summer vacation for your taste buds, offering a harmonious blend of flavors.

Related: A Complete Guide to Mixing & Drinking Rum

Mojito Recipe

  1. In a sturdy glass, gently muddle 6 mint leaves and 2 tsp sugar to release the mint’s aromatic oils.
  2. Squeeze in 1 oz  fresh lime juice and drop in a lime wedge.
  3. Fill the glass with ice cubes.
  4. Pour in 2 oz white rum and give it a quick stir.
  5. Top off the glass with soda water (club soda), leaving a little space at the top.
  6. Give it another gentle stir to mix the ingredients.
  7. Garnish with a sprig of mint and a lime wedge.

#2: The Margarita

This iconic cocktail is a perfect blend of zesty lime, tangy orange liqueur, and smooth tequila. Served in a salt-rimmed glass, it’s a fiesta of flavors that’s – simply put – stood the test of time.

Related: 6 Tips for Choosing the Right Tequila

Margarita Recipe

  1. Take a lime wedge and run it around the rim of a glass. Dip the rim in a plate of salt to coat it.
  2. In a shaker, combine 2 oz tequila, 1 oz triple sec, and 1 oz lime juice. Add ice and shake well until chilled.
  3. Fill the salt-rimmed glass with ice and strain the cocktail into it.
  4. Garnish with a lime wedge on the rim.

#1: The Old Fashioned

There’s one cocktail that stands unwavering: the Old Fashioned. With its roots tracing back to the 19th century, this cocktail has gracefully weathered the passage of time, earning its title as the most popular summer cocktail of 2023.

Old Fashioned Recipe

  1. In a mixing glass, muddle a sugar cube and 2 dashes Angostura bitters until the sugar is dissolved.
  2. Add ice to the glass and pour in 2 oz bourbon or rye whiskey.
  3. Stir gently to chill and combine the ingredients.
  4. Strain the mixture into a rocks glass filled with ice.
  5. Express the oils from an orange twist over the drink by holding it over the glass and giving it a gentle twist.
  6. Drop the twist into the glass for a final aromatic touch.

Learn More About Cocktails:

Here are several related resources here on Distillery Nearby you might enjoy in conjunction with this article:

World Cocktail Day: A Brief History & Fun Cocktails to Mix Up

National Cocktail Day: A History, When It Is, & Cocktail Ideas to Celebrate With

10 Facts About Cocktails You Didn’t Know

Enjoying Yourself without the Hangover: 18 Tips

Glass Etiquette: Which Glass Goes with Which Cocktail

Why Is It Called A Cocktail?

Find The Best Local Spirits for Your Cocktails at Distillery Nearby

Looking for fresh, delicious, locally-distilled spirits for trying some of the cocktails on this list? Check out our “by-state” directory to find local distilleries near you. We hope you enjoy this delicious list of cocktails and try out something new in your area!

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