Considering the sheer number of cocktails created in the last century, it’s understandable that some of the greats have fallen to the wayside. Many of these gems have been all-but-forgotten since their creation, but their recipes are just waiting to be rediscovered. From a bourbon ur-tiki drink to a cocktail that mixes red wine with Coke, here are the nine most underrated classic cocktails that you need to try. The next time you’re at a bar, order one and see if your bartender knows how to make it—you might have to teach them.
The 9 Most Underrated Classic Cocktails
Essentially a bourbon-based Daiquiri with a measure of pimento dram and Angostura bitters, this lost, post-Prohibition classic is one of those cocktails that is more than the sum of its parts. Everything just clicks. Exotic and tiki-tinged, this cocktail deserves way more love from sour cocktail lovers.
With an extremely catchy name—and an advertising campaign to match—it’s surprising that the Harvey Wallbanger completely fell off the cocktail map. Made with vodka, Galliano liqueur (which has an anise-vanilla flavor) and orange juice, this cocktail is definitely a product of its era (the 1970s). While the drink can be lackluster if made with concentrated orange juice, it absolutely soars with fresh citrus. We use a high rpm juicer like the Breville Juice Fountain, which pushes air into the juice to create a frothy, almost creamy head.
When it comes to tequila cocktails, the Margarita reigns supreme. Palomas get some love—but mainly south-of-the-border. While both drinks deserve high regard, the true agave dark horse is the El Diablo. This classic tequila cocktail never gets ordered. Made with ginger beer and crème de cassis (a totally underrated liqueur in general), this classic highball carefully balances spicy ginger heat, tart fruit flavors and vegetal tequila funk. Not only is the drink completely unique, but it also happens to be totally crushable all year round.
Crème de cassis
Time has not been kind to the this single-serving punch. Since its creation, the icy, palate cleanser has all but disappeared. Essentially a drinkable granita, the Punch Romaine is best remembered as the cocktail served to the first class passengers on the Titanic during its first (and last) voyage in 1912. With the revival of tiki and a new appreciation for rum cocktails, it's about time for this cocktail to resurface (no pun intended).
Unless you’re in Peru (or San Fransisco), you’re probably not ordering pisco at the bar. And if anyone does happen to order the clear, potent Peruvian grape brandy, it’s usually in a Pisco Sour. Created at the turn of the 20th century, the Pisco Punch is a tropical, Americanized variation on the original sour. Made with pineapple syrup and lemon juice, the cocktail is downright chuggable. And yet, despite the drink’s refreshing quaffability and proto-tiki roots, its progenitor, the Pisco Sour, won the popularity contest.
pineapple gomme syrup
While its sibling, the Corpse Reviver #2, became a hangover-curing staple, the Corpse Reviver #1 was left in the recipe books. The problem, in our opinion, was more of a marketing error than a lack of quality. More akin to a Manhattan than the brunch cocktail, the Corpse Reviver #1 should reign supreme in the stirred and strong category. Made with equal parts Cognac, calvados (luxe French apple brandy) and sweet vermouth, it is a far more sophisticated cocktail than any of the other members in the Corpse Reviver family.
Incredibly popular in Spain’s Basque country (where the drink was invented in the 1970s) and throughout South America, this cola-based cocktail has never really caught on in American bars. Essentially a poor man’s Sangria (which is actually a common nickname for the drink), the cocktail is a mixture of equal parts red wine and Coke. Delightfully refreshing, and surprisingly tannic and dry, this cocktail deserves some stateside celebration.
Created in the 1890s in Japan, the Bamboo was one of the most popular sherry cocktails in its heyday. Sadly, this delectable aperitif has since lost its popularity among drinkers and bartenders alike. Made with equal parts vermouth and dry sherry, with hefty dashes of Angostura and orange bitters, the Bamboo is just as easy to commit to memory as it is to concoct. With more and more drinkers looking for low ABV alternatives, this classic cocktail is just begging to be discovered once again.
While it’s super easy to make, impressive to look at and delicious to boot, this sour classic remains relatively unknown. Essentially a Rye Whiskey Sour with a generous float of red wine, the New York Sour is one of those rare whiskey cocktails that is drinkable year round (who wants a Manhattan in July?). Every bartender should have this cocktail in their repertoire and every whiskey lover should try one.