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The Most Underrated Cocktails, According to Bartenders

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Recently, bartenders weighed in on the cocktails they think are overplayed, overrated and tired, so it only makes sense that they have some opinions on the cocktails that fall on the opposite end of the spectrum, too. Here, 13 bartenders share the drinks they think deserve more love, respect and attention. Take their advice and order one of these underrated cocktails at your next happy hour.

Creamy Cocktails

“Creamy drinks have been unofficially banned from too many cocktail bars! It seems some bartenders believe they are above mastering the art of creating the perfect creamy drink, and if they do attempt it, the drink is often overloaded with dry liquor or bitterness. It’s OK to have a sweet tooth, it’s OK to indulge yourself. What I wouldn't do for a dark chocolate flip some days—bring back creamy drinks!” —JJ Goodman, London Cocktail Club, London, UK

Twentieth Century

“I think the Twentieth Century is a classic that's often under-appreciated and not widely known. It’s named after the train that travelled between Chicago and New York in the early 1900s and is my go-to recommendation for anyone who wants a refreshing gin cocktail. It was one of the first drinks I learned to make, so perhaps my love is sentimental.” —Robyn Wilke, Seven Tales, London, UK

Savory Cocktails

Savory cocktails that are approachable. Harrison Ginsberg (a bartender at BlackTail and Dead Rabbit) came up with this gorgeous drink for our newly launched menu called True Blue that’s made with Tullamore Dew Irish Whiskey, apple brandy, Guinness, Pedro Ximenez Sherry, miso cane syrup, ginger, lemon and Peychaud's Bitters.” —Jillian Vose, The Dead Rabbit, New York, NY

Manhattan

“I’m not saying they’re always wonderful—in fact, they are usually terrible—but when somebody makes you a great Manhattan, there is no mistaking whether they care about your drink. It is truly a respect for the craft in its finest form. What vermouth and whiskey did they choose? Do they work together? Is the vermouth fresh? The Manhattan can be a flabby, unbalanced, watered-down monstrosity, but when it’s diluted properly with fresh, quality vermouth, it is the most beautiful harmony.” —Bryan Tetorakis, Polite Provisions, San Diego, CA

Margarita

“The simple Margarita. And I don't mean tequila and sweet and sour mix thrown into a blender—there is a time and a place for that, I'm not a snob—but I mean tequila, lime and just a kiss of sugar. I like mine lightly shaken and served up with a salted rim. It makes for a well-balanced sipping cocktail for warm weather and sunshine or an early evening aperitif. It pairs well with light, delicate flavors like seafood, fruit and even really funky cheeses.” —Damien Breaw, The 404 Kitchen, Nashville, TN

“The Margarita is the perfect vehicle for tequila—assuming it's made correctly. All you need is a great tasting blanco tequila (think Siembra Azul), Cointreau and fresh lime juice. These three ingredients play so well together. The tequila isn't lost or overpowering, the Cointreau ensures it's not too sweet and the fresh lime juice provides the perfect amount of refreshing citrus. How do you beat that?” —Justin Shapiro, Mayahuel, New York, NY

Martini

“A well-made Martini. I'm obviously biased, but if it's made right with good gin or vodka, fresh vermouth, good ice and—please for the love of all that is holy—no three-month-old olive brine, I think it's tough to beat as a proper drink to start your night.” —Gareth Evans, Global Brand Ambassador, ABSOLUT ELYX

50/50 Martini

Vermouth got a bad rap amongst consumers for a while. This was probably because people associated vermouth with that dusty bottle that sat in a dive bar's well for months or years, so people were ordering straight shaken vodka sans vermouth. Vermouth is a beautiful thing, and I think it's making a comeback in the mainstream. The 50/50 Martini is a softer, more elegant, easier drinking cocktail that can give you the after-work buzz that you're looking for, but won't have you passed out before dinner.” —Stacey Swenson, Dante, New York, NY

Blue Hawaii

“The Blue Hawaii has often been the poster child for cocktails gone astray. I have never understood why. When done right, it balances three fruits impeccably with two spirits in a refreshing and eye-catching package. The drink's inventor Harry Yee stressed that a Blue Hawaii contain both rum and vodka or it’s not a true Blue Hawaii. He implemented vodka in a clever way using its neutral base to dry out and amplify the other flavors in the drink. Rum on its own would be too wet, letting the curaçao dominate. Love them or hate them, people want to order a blue drink—just make sure as a bartender, it's a well balanced one.” —Garret Richard, Slowly Shirley, New York, NY

Daiquiri

“Often thought of as the syrupy sweet Bourbon Street slushy, the Daiquiri is actually a wonderful cocktail. The bright pop of acidity can be tempered by the use of a sweeter rum or by adjusting the ratio of sugar to lime juice. A well-crafted Daiquiri is a thing of beauty.” —Stuart Humphries, The Pass and Provisions, Houston, TX

Underused Techniques

“I don’t really think any cocktail is underrated, but I would say certain techniques for mixing cocktails are underrated. Instead of sticking to a rigid recipe, what about swapping out different spirits to make something completely different, like a Mezcal Negroni?”—Melina Meza, Paley, Los Angeles, CA

Gin & Tonic

“There are so many different kinds of gin on the market, and nowadays it’s very easy to also get variations on tonic. Yet, only a few people try to really understand the botanicals that comprise gin and how to play around with tonic and garnishes. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not calling for a new age G&T that will take forever to be served with tons of herbs and spices, just more consideration and understanding of the general product.” —Hyacinthe Lescoet, Le Mary Celeste, Paris, France

Morning Glory Fizz

“Underrated may be too harsh, but it’s certainly forgotten. The Morning Glory Fizz is still very much unknown by most consumers and the last thing on a bartender’s mind to make. But the combination of the right whiskey—balanced, lively, with the right amount of peat—fresh citrus, sugar and egg white with a bit of soda for length, and all finished off with a hint of absinthe, makes it a delicate and herbaceous gem.” —Rhys Wilson, Happiness Forgets, London, UK

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