The last few years have seen a resurgence in the popularity of classic cocktails. As the craft cocktail movement has taken hold, mixology has become a staple at bars across the country. Bartenders are dusting off old recipes and giving forgotten drinks new life. Customers are also exploring the wide world of cocktails at home thanks to a proliferation of books, websites, blogs, YouTube channels, and podcasts dedicated to the art of mixology. This renewed interest in cocktails has shaped the most popular drinks of 2024. While creative new concoctions come and go, this year the classics have made a strong comeback. Customers are rediscovering why drinks like the Gin & Tonic, Margarita, and Bloody Mary have endured decade after decade. Their balance, simplicity and timeless flavors appeal to both novice and expert drinkers alike. Keep reading to learn more about the stories behind the 10 most popular cocktails this year and why they have stood the test of time. With just a few key ingredients, you can easily mix up these famous cocktails at home. Cheers to the classics!
Gin and tonic is a classic cocktail that has stood the test of time. Consisting of just gin, tonic water, and lime, its refreshing flavor profile and simplicity make it an ideal drink for many occasions. In recent years, the gin and tonic has experienced a major resurgence in popularity, cementing its place as one of the world’s most beloved cocktails. The gin and tonic traces its origins back to the early 1800s when British soldiers stationed in India mixed their daily gin rations with quinine-rich tonic water to help prevent malaria. The quinine provided a light bitter taste that balanced nicely with the botanicals of the gin, while the bubbles from the carbonated tonic made the drink seem less alcoholic. Soldiers brought the gin and tonic back to Britain after their deployments, and it quickly became associated with the upper classes who had served abroad.
In the latter half of the 20th century, the gin and tonic fell out of favor as vodka and rum rose in popularity. But around the early 2000s, craft cocktail bars began showcasing high-quality artisanal gins and premium tonics, bringing a new level of sophistication to the classic drink. Flavor experiments like infusing the gin with botanicals or using flavored tonics opened up an array of new taste profiles. The widespread “gin craze” reintroduced gin to a younger generation, who embraced the gin and tonic as a versatile classic. Today, the gin and tonic shows no signs of declining. Bartenders continue to elevate the simple drink with premium ingredients and creative presentations like floats, infusions, and perfect garnish pairings. With its crisp, refreshing taste and endless riff potential, it’s no wonder the gin and tonic remains one of the world’s favorite cocktails.
The mojito is a classic Cuban highball that has grown steadily in popularity over the last decade. Now the second most popular cocktail in 2024, the mojito owes its fame to the resurgence of rum as a favored base spirit. The essential ingredients in a mojito are white rum, sugar, lime, soda water, and mint. Unlike many cocktails, the mojito highlights the crisp flavor of fresh mint paired with the tartness of lime juice. The sugar sweetens the drink while the soda water provides gentle carbonation.
To make an authentic mojito, start by gently muddling 4-6 fresh mint leaves in a highball glass along with 2 teaspoons of white sugar and the juice from 1 lime wedge. Next, add 1 1/2 to 2 ounces of white rum – Cuban rums like Havana Club are ideal. Fill the glass with ice, top with 2-3 ounces of soda water, and garnish with a lime wedge and mint sprig. The mojito screams of warm Cuban nights. Sipping this refreshing highball, one can practically feel the sea breeze against their face. The popularity of the mojito directly parallels the rise of “premium” rums in the early 2000s. As rum shed its perception as a cheap party liquor, people discovered just how enjoyable a well-made daiquiri or mojito could be. The mojito now stands shoulder to shoulder with timeless classics like the margarita and gin and tonic.
The margarita has long been a popular cocktail, but it rose to even greater prominence in 2024 as the third most popular cocktail overall. This classic tequila-based drink saw renewed interest thanks to tequila’s rise in popularity. Traditionally made with tequila, orange liqueur, and lime juice, the basic margarita showcases the flavors of 100% agave tequila beautifully. As tequila secured its place as an ultra-trendy spirit in 2024, more bar-goers explored high-end tequilas and mezcals, sparking new interest in the traditional margarita. This drove many bars to expand their tequila selections and showcase top-shelf tequilas in their margarita programs.
Margaritas also became more popular thanks to the rise of margarita variations. Bartenders got creative with new twists like strawberry, mango, jalapeño, and blood orange margaritas. The availability of flavored tequilas also expanded the flavors possible in margaritas. Whether patrons preferred a classic lime margarita or a more adventurous fruit or spice-infused margarita, the margarita reigned supreme as the third most popular cocktail of 2024.
The Bloody Mary is one of the most popular brunch cocktails, with its distinctly savory and spicy flavor profile. This drink is made with vodka, tomato juice, various spices, and other flavorings. The key ingredient that sets it apart is the tomato juice, which gives the Bloody Mary its signature red hue. While the exact origins are disputed, most agree the Bloody Mary was invented sometime in the 1930s. Legend has it the drink was first concocted by a bartender at Harry’s New York Bar in Paris. It was later popularized in the United States, becoming a beloved brunch staple across the country. The Bloody Mary gets its name from Queen Mary I of England, who was nicknamed “Bloody Mary” for her brutal persecution of Protestants during her reign. The tomato juice is said to represent the blood shed under her command.
This savory cocktail is often embellished with spices, Worcestershire sauce, hot sauces, horseradish, celery salt, pepper, lemon juice, and garnishes like olives, celery stalks, bacon, shrimp, and pickled vegetables. The drink is both refreshing and filling, making it the perfect “hair of the dog” accompaniment to a big brunch spread. The Bloody Mary has become a brunch classic thanks to its versatility and customizable nature. Bartenders can adapt the cocktail’s ingredients and garnishes to give their own unique spin. Whether you prefer yours straight up or loaded with fixings, the Bloody Mary’s popularity proves this tomato-based vodka drink is here to stay.
The Whiskey & Coke highball is truly a timeless classic. This simple combination of whiskey and Coca-Cola has been enjoyed for generations, and it’s easy to see why it has staying power. The bittersweet cola provides the perfect complement to the warm, vanilla and oak flavors of the whiskey. While the Coke masks some of the alcohol bite, it allows the complex flavors of the whiskey to shine through. The effervescence of the soda also lifts and brightens the spirit. This highball is pleasingly uncomplicated. The ideal ratio is generally 2 parts Coke to 1 part whiskey, though tastes vary. While this drink is commonly made with inexpensive blended whiskey, many bartenders recommend using a higher quality bourbon or rye to allow for more nuanced flavors.
Whiskey & Coke also benefits from the nostalgia factor. It likely reminds many folks of their first ventures into drinking in high school or college. Yet its simplicity is timeless, making it just as enjoyable today. It’s the kind of easy, no-fuss drink you can order at any bar. With its balance of sweetness, carbonation, and alcoholic bite, the Whiskey & Coke retains its popularity as a go-to cocktail for good times with friends. This classic mixer continues to earn its place as a top highball.
The Pina Colada is the perfect cocktail to help you escape to the tropics. This refreshing blended drink combines white rum and coconut cream or coconut milk. Traditionally served in a pineapple or hurricane glass, the Pina Colada transports you to a beach vacation with its tropical flavors. The sweetness of the coconut balances the rum beautifully. The Pina Colada gained popularity after a song by the same name was released in 1979. Since then, it has become a classic vacation cocktail and one of the most popular frozen drinks. Even if you can’t make it to the islands, blending up a Pina Colada and adding a paper umbrella transports you there in spirit.
With its smooth, creamy texture and tropical essence, it’s no wonder 19% of people surveyed chose the Pina Colada as one of their favorite cocktails. Sipping this cool concoction instantly conjures up images of sun, sand, and relaxation. The Pina Colada proves you don’t need a plane ticket to give yourself a taste of paradise.
The daiquiri is a simple, refreshing cocktail that showcases the essential balance between sour and sweet. Consisting of just three ingredients – rum, lime juice and sugar – the magic of the daiquiri lies in its purity and balance. While the exact origins of the daiquiri are debated, it gained popularity in the late 1800s when American engineers working in the town of Daiquirí, Cuba began mixing rum with the abundant local lime juice to create a drinkable version of the standard Navy grog ration. This classic combination of rum, citrus and sweetener spread through the Caribbean and eventually became a globally enjoyed cocktail.
The beauty of the daiquiri is that it allows the smooth, mellow flavors of the rum to shine through. The tart lime juice adds a bright acidity that cuts through the sweetness and prevents the drink from becoming cloying. Just a touch of sugar rounds out the tanginess of the lime and softens the strong spirit. When properly balanced, the simple combination creates a harmonious flavor profile that is easy-drinking, crisp and refreshing. Though other fruit juices or flavorings are sometimes added, the original daiquiri highlights the versatility of its core components: rum, lime and sugar. The purity of the classic recipe ensures the daiquiri will remain a go-to cocktail for years to come. Its simplicity is masterful, making it easy to recreate the perfect daiquiri at home. With just a few ingredients, anyone can mix up this delightful, time-tested tropical drink.
The Rum & Coke is a timeless cocktail pairing that ranked #8 in popularity in 2024. With its origins dating back to the early 1900s, this simple cocktail combines rum’s versatility with the classic taste of Coke.While rum can be sipped on its own, it truly shines when mixed into cocktails like the Rum & Coke. Rum’s sweetness blends perfectly with the crisp, carbonated Coke to create an ideal balance. The dark spiced rums add warmth, while light rums keep the drink refreshing.
The Coke acts as more than just a mixer – its unmistakable flavor profile enhances the rum. The caramel and vanilla notes of Coke meld with rum’s toasty, molasses flavors. The effervescence livens up the rum, making the drink easy-drinking. Just two ingredients come together to make a greater whole. It’s no wonder the Rum & Coke has retained its popularity over the decades. Its straightforward preparation means it’s accessible. The balance of flavors means it satisfies a range of tastes. Overall, the Rum & Coke offers an uncomplicated yet enjoyable cocktail experience.
A refreshing mix of citrus and spirits, the Gin or Vodka Lemonade combines the tartness of lemons with the botanicals of gin or the smoothness of vodka. The popularity of both drinks lies in their simplicity and refreshing nature. When you want something easygoing with a crisp lemon taste, the Gin or Vodka Lemonade is hard to beat, especially on a hot day. It’s a crowd-pleaser that most can enjoy. With only a spirit and lemon as the key ingredients, you don’t need an advanced home bar to mix up these tangy coolers. Just add ice and sip away!