The 1980s was an interesting time for cocktails, to put it kindly. Some bartenders have claimed that the decade, which was filled with neon cocktails made with pre-made mixes in a rudimentary style, nearly “killed” cocktails forever. And yet, these colorful, fun and flippant drinks have lived on and even started to make a comeback in recent years—albeit upgraded with fresh ingredients and reasonable ratios. Perhaps it’s the #throwback trend that’s encouraged a new look at some of these old recipes, from the Long Island Iced Tea to the Mudslide, but however you slice it, these drinks led us to the craft cocktail renaissance of today. And sometimes it’s fun to take a look back—whether you’re hosting an ‘80s party or reminiscing about simpler times—to remember what drinking was like 20 years ago.
8 Cocktails From the 1980s for Your Throwback Party
Though it was most likely invented in the 1970s, the Long Island Iced Tea rose to its current status, as the potent cocktail to end all potent cocktails, in the 1980s. Vodka, gin, rum and tequila hold up the ultra-boozy drink while slowly knocking you down.
All Clear Spirits
Unlike the outfits, the cocktails of the ‘80s were simple. And this combination of fruity ingredients couldn’t get any simpler. The “fuzzy” in the name stands for peach schnapps, while the “navel” indicates an orange juice mixer. It’s sweet and easy as they come.
If you’ve ever seen Cocktail, then you surely remember Tom Cruise’s character sounding out this drink’s name in his speech, “The Last Barman Poet.” While the first part of its name probably refers to the Southern Comfort it contains, the “slammer” half was definitely inspired by the potent drink’s after-effects.
Though peeling yourself out of bed to watch the sunrise is a tall order, this cocktail lets you experience daybreak’s beauty at any time of day. A simple blend of tequila and orange juice, the drink gets its signature ombre hue from a splash of grenadine. Though it might seem rough, the drink shows beautifully when you use good tequila, fresh orange juice and homemade grenadine.
We won’t lie: We like a Sex on the Beach every now and then—especially in the form of a Jell-O Shot. Though there’s no denying the drink’s sweetness, it does receive a touch of tartness from cranberry juice.
When dessert is in order, the Mudslide will do the trick every time. Essentially a boozy milkshake, it mixes vodka with Kahlúa and Irish cream for a tall, decadent take on a White Russian—another ‘80s favorite.
vanilla ice cream
Though purple-hued sloe gin can be used in a variety of cocktails, this is perhaps the most famous. Just a little lemon juice and topper of soda are all that are needed to create a drink worthy of this over-the-top era—shoulder pads not included.
Suggestively named cocktails are a hallmark of the 1980s bar scene—as are oddball shots. This layered shot fits right in with its charming nomenclature, and unusual mix of sambuca and Irish cream. Strange though it is, the Slippery Nipple will get the job done.