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Best Drinks to Order at a Bar for Every Taste

Karen Frazier
Woman drinking cocktail at bar talking to bartender

While most bars have created specialty cocktail menus to appeal to patrons, if you want to drink off menu, it helps to have an idea of some of the best bar drinks to order. Regardless of what your taste buds like best, bars have cocktails to please everyone.

Best Brown Liquor Drinks to Order at a Bar

Brown liqueur drinks are often considered masculine or manly bar drinks, but they're great for anyone who likes brown liquors. Many of the classic cocktails are made with brown liquors such as whiskey, Scotch, bourbon, and Cognac or Armagnac.

Old Fashioned

While innovative bartenders are turning a number of liquors into old fashioned style cocktails these days, the classic contains some form of whiskey, bitters, sugar, and an orange twist. A classic old fashioned is always a tasty bar drink. It's a perfectly balanced blend of strong, bitter, and sweet.

Old fashioned whisky drink

Brown Derby

Made with whiskey, a brown derby also contains honey simple syrup and grapefruit juice, so it's a sweet, sour, and strong balanced drink served chilled, straight up in a cocktail glass.

Brown Derby cocktail

Ingredients

  • ¾ ounces freshly squeezed grapefruit juice
  • ¾ ounce honey simple syrup
  • 1½ ounces bourbon
  • Ice
  • Grapefruit twist for garnish

Instructions

  1. Chill a cocktail glass.
  2. In a cocktail shaker, combine the grapefruit juice, simple syrup, and bourbon.
  3. Add the ice and shake to chill. Strain into the chilled cocktail glass.
  4. Garnish with the grapefruit twist.

Manhattan

The Manhattan cocktail contains whiskey, sweet vermouth, and bitters. The result is a slightly sweet, strong, and well-balanced cocktail for whiskey lovers. It's served chilled and straight up in a cocktail glass garnished with a cherry.

Manhattan cocktail

Brandy Alexander

If you like your brown liquor on the sweeter, creamier side, then try a Brandy Alexander. This is best known as a dessert drink, but it's a delicious, creamy blend of brandy (try Armagnac), créme de cacao, cream, and a sprinkle of nutmeg. It's served chilled straight up in a cocktail glass.

Brandy Alexander

Rob Roy

The Roby Roy is similar to a Manhattan, but it's made with Scotch whiskey so it has a sweet, smoky, appealing flavor. It's made with bitters, Scotch, and sweet Vermouth, served straight up and chilled in a cocktail glass and garnished with a cherry.

Rob Roy cocktail

Penicillin

Scotch lovers will enjoy a penicillin cocktail, which is a combination of blended Scotch, ginger and honey syrup, and lemon juice with a float of smoky single malt Scotch on the top. It's sweet, slightly spicy, and nicely smoky.

Penicillin cocktail

Ingredients

  • ¾ ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ¾ ounce honey ginger simple syrup
  • 2 ounces blended Scotch
  • Ice
  • ¼ ounce single malt Islay Scotch
  • Candied ginger for garnish

Instructions

  1. In a cocktail shaker, combine the lemon juice, syrup, and blended Scotch.
  2. Add the ice and shake to chill.
  3. Strain into a rocks glass with ice.
  4. Add the single malt Scotch. Don't stir.
  5. Garnish with the candied ginger.

Sazerac

There are various sazerac recipes, but the basics are the same: combine absinthe (or Herbisant), sugar, bitters, and rye whiskey for a balanced, bittersweet rye drink with an aromatic edge. The sazerac is served straight up in a rocks glass with a twist of lemon.

Sazerac cocktail

Vieux Carré

The vieux carré is a classic Cognac cocktail that originated in New Orleans. It's a popular Mardi Gras drink that's a blend of cognac, rye, sweet Vermouth, Bénédictine, and bitters served straight up in a chilled rocks glass and garnished with a lemon peel. It's a sweetly herbal drink with a smooth alcoholic edge thanks to the rye and Cognac.

Vieux Carre

Best Fruity Cocktails to Order at a Bar

Fruity drinks are often considered girly drinks, but they can run the gamut from sweet to sour and can also include popular tiki drinks. Fruity drinks often work well as non-alcoholic cocktails as well, so they're great for the designated driver. Just remember when you order to specify "virgin".

Frozen Strawberry Margarita

Whether you want a virgin frozen strawberry margarita, or you prefer yours with a bit of tequila, this is a quintessential fruity bar drink that's lusciously sweet. It's a blended cocktail that's icy and sweet. It's also easy to customize. Replace the strawberries with other fruit for different flavors. Replace the tequila with rum for a strawberry daiquiri.

Frozen strawberry Margarita

Ingredients

  • ½ cup frozen strawberries
  • 1 ounce lime juice
  • 1 ounce triple sec
  • 1½ ounces tequila
  • 1 cup crushed ice
  • Strawberry for garnish

Instructions

  1. Chill a cocktail glass.
  2. In a blender, combine the strawberries, lime juice, triple sec, tequila, and ice.
  3. Blend until smooth.
  4. Pour into the chilled cocktail glass and garnish with the strawberry.

Rum Runner Daiquiri

If you like sweet, fruity, and tropical, then chances are you'll love a rum runner daiquiri. It's made with rum, banana liqueur, blackberry brandy, lime juice, pineapple juice, sweet and sour, and grenadine and blended with ice to make a colorful, sweet, fruity, purple cocktail.

Rum runner daiquiri

Sangria

Sangria is a wine punch made with either red or white wine, brandy, fruit juice, and fruit. It's served chilled over ice in wine glasses, and it's a delicious, fruity punch that's perfect for a warm summer afternoon.

Sangria cocktail

Tequila Sunrise

Pretty as a picture, the tequila sunrise is a tropical drink made with orange juice, grenadine, and tequila. The grenadine and orange juice layer to make the drink look like a beautiful sunrise. It's garnished with a cherry and an orange slice, a traditional garnish known as a "flag" and served over ice in a Collins glass.

Tequila sunrise cocktail

Piña Colada

Some consider the piña colada to be the ultimate tropical drink: smooth, creamy, sweet and filled with the tropical flavors of coconut cream and pineapple juice combined with tasty rum. You can serve it on the rocks or blended and omitting the rum makes a delicious virgin cocktail for the designated driver.

Pina Colada

Screwdriver

The screwdriver is a simple classic made with orange juice and vodka. It's citrusy and sweet with a mild alcoholic note from the vodka. Serve it on the rocks in a collins glass.

Screwdriver cocktail

Ingredients

  • 6 ounces freshly squeezed orange juice
  • 2 ounces vodka
  • Ice
  • Orange slice or cherry for garnish

Instructions

  1. In a cocktail shaker, combine the orange juice, vodka, and ice. Shake to chill.
  2. Strain into a collins glass filled with ice. Garnish with a cherry or an orange slice.

Appletini

While an appletini isn't technically a martini, it's been named as such because it comes in a martini glass. A classic appletini is a crisp combination of sweet and sour containing vodka, apple schnapps, apple juice, and Cointreau garnished with an apple slice or an apple peel.

Appletini cocktail

Sea Breeze

The sea breeze cocktail (and its many variations) is a tart, fruity combination of vodka, lime juice, and cranberry juice. It's served in a collins glass over ice and garnished with a lime slice. It's the perfect bar drink for people who like fruity but not so sweet for their cocktails.

Sea breeze cocktail

Hurricane

Hurricanes are sweetly tropical fruity cocktails. Made with passionfruit juice, lime juice, pineapple juice, grenadine, simple syrup, and two types of rum, the strong hurricane cocktail is the perfect drink for people who want a sweet, tropical, fruity cocktail with an alcoholic punch. It's served over ice in a hurricane glass with a cherry-orange flag as garnish.

Hurricane cocktail

Sweet Mixed Drinks to Order in Bars

If you prefer your sweet without a side of fruit, then there are still plenty of bar drinks you can order to support your sweet tooth.

Black Russian

The black Russian is a sweetly strong coffee-flavored cocktail made with vodka and Kahlúa. It's served over ice in a rocks glass and garnished with a cherry.

Black Russian cocktail

White Russian

The classic white Russian is sweet, creamy, and coffee flavored. Like the black Russian, it's made with vodka and Kahlúa, but it has heavy cream added to make it creamy. It's served in a rocks glass on ice and garnished with a cherry.

White Russian cocktail

Mudslide

The mudslide is dessert in a glass. This chocolate and coffee-flavored drink is made with Kahlúa, Irish cream, vodka, heavy cream and ice cream. It's typically blended like a milkshake and served garnished with whipped cream, a drizzle of chocolate syrup, and a cherry.

Mudslide cocktail

Aviation Cocktail

The aviation cocktail is a different kind of sweet altogether. Made with gin, maraschino liqueur, and crème de violette, this lovely lavender cocktail is floral, aromatic, and sweet served straight up in a chilled coupe.

Aviation cocktail

Ingredients

  • ¾ ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ½ ounce maraschino liqueur
  • ¼ ounce crème de violette
  • 2 ounces London dry gin
  • Ice
  • Cherry for garnish

Instructions

  1. Chill a coupe.
  2. In a cocktail shaker, combine the lemon juice, maraschino liqueur, crème de violette, and gin.
  3. Add the ice and shake to chill.
  4. Strain into the chilled coupe. Garnish with the cherry.

Best Sour Cocktails to Order in Bars

Sours are made with equal parts sweet (usually simple syrup) and sour (often lemon, lime, or grapefruit juice) to two parts strong. If you like sweet and sour, there are many cocktails you can order at bars.

Whiskey Sour

The whiskey sour is a simple whiskey drink made with equal parts freshly squeezed lemon juice and simple syrup to two parts whiskey of your choice. It's shaken with ice, strained into an ice filled rocks glass, and garnished with a cherry or a flag. Some bartenders also dry shake the cocktail with egg whites to add foam at the top.

Whiskey sour cocktail

Ingredients

  • ¾ ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ¾ ounce simple syrup
  • 1½ ounces whiskey
  • Ice
  • Cherry for garnish

Instructions

  1. In a cocktail shaker, combine the lemon juice, simple syrup, and whiskey.
  2. Add the ice and shake to chill.
  3. Strain into a rocks glass filled with ice.
  4. Garnish with the cherry.

Daiquiri

A traditional daiquiri is a lime and rum sour. It's made with equal parts lime juice and simple syrup with rum and served in a rocks glass over ice. Garnish with a lime wedge.

Daiquiri cocktail

Ingredients

  • ¾ ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
  • ¾ ounce simple syrup
  • 1½ ounces rum
  • Ice
  • Lime wedge for garnish

Instructions

  1. Chill a rocks glass.
  2. In a cocktail shaker, combine the lime juice, simple syrup, and rum.
  3. Add the ice and shake to chill.
  4. Strain into the chilled rocks glass and garnish with the lime wedge.

Margarita

A basic margarita is essentially a simple tequila lime sour with triple sec as the sweet element. It's served straight up in a cocktail glass rimmed with salt.

Margaritas and sunglasses in Cozumel

Ingredients

  • Lime wedge
  • Salt
  • ¾ ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
  • ¾ ounce triple sec
  • 1½ ounces tequila
  • Ice

Instructions

  1. Chill a margarita glass.
  2. Run the lime wedge around the edge of the glass and dip the glass in salt to rim.
  3. In a cocktail shaker, combine the lime juice, triple sec, and tequila.
  4. Add the ice and shake to chill.
  5. Strain into the prepared margarita glass. Garnish with the lime wedge.

Pisco Sour

The pisco sour is a classic sour preparation made with the Peruvian spirit Pisco. It's a sweet and sour cocktail with a foam of egg white on the top, served straight up in a chilled rocks glass.

Pisco sour drinks

Caipirinha

The caipirinha is Brazil's national drink, made with a Brazilian rum called cachaça. It's made with muddled sugar and lime, cachaça, and ice served in a rocks glass with a lime garnish.

Caipirinha

Ingredients

  • 3 lime wedges
  • 1 teaspoon superfine sugar
  • 2 ounces cachaça
  • Ice

Instructions

  1. In a rocks glass, muddle the lime wedges with the sugar.
  2. Add the cachaça and the ice and stir.

Fizzes to Order at a Bar

Fizzes are essentially sours with a fizzy element, such as club soda, added. The result is a sweet, sour, fizzy cocktail.

Paloma

The Mexican paloma uses refreshing, tart grapefruit soda as its fizzy element.

Mexican paloma cocktail

Ingredients

  • ¾ ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 2 ounces tequila
  • Ice
  • 6 ounces grapefruit soda

Instructions

  1. In a cocktail shaker, combine the lime juice and tequila.
  2. Add the ice and shake to chill.
  3. Strain into a collins glass filled with ice.
  4. top with the grapefruit soda.

Gin Fizz

The classic gin fizz is sweet, tart, and refreshing.

Gin fizz cocktails

Ingredients

  • ¾ ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • ¾ ounce simple syrup
  • 1½ ounces London dry gin
  • Ice
  • 4 ounces club soda
  • Cherry for garnish

Instructions

  1. In a cocktail shaker, combine the lemon juice, simple syrup, and gin.
  2. Add the ice and shake to chill.
  3. Strain into a collins glass filled with ice.
  4. Top with the club soda.
  5. Garnish with the cherry.

Moscow Mule

The Moscow mule is a simple fizz made with lime juice, vodka, and ginger beer as the fizzy element, so it's spicy and refreshing.

Moscow mule cocktail

Ingredients

  • ¾ ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1½ ounces vodka
  • 4 ounces ginger beer
  • Ice
  • Lime wedge for garnish

Instructions

  1. In a cocktail shaker, combine the lime juice, vodka, and ice. Shake to chill.
  2. Strain into a mule cup filled with ice. Add the ginger beer and garnish with the lime wedge.

Tom Collins

The Tom Collins is another popular type of fizz that's a classic gin drink. The sour is made with lemon juice, simple syrup, and London dry gin that's topped with club soda. It's served on the rocks in a collins glass garnished with a cherry and orange flag. It's a crisp, aromatic, refreshing fizz.

Tom Collins cocktail

Minty Bar Drinks to Order

Herbal bar drinks use common herbs such as mint or basil. There are several classics you can order in a bar.

Mint Julep

The classic mint julep is strong, minty, refreshing, and icy. It's a frosty combination of muddled mint, sugar, bourbon, and club soda with lots of crushed ice. You'll find it served in a classic frosty julep cup garnished with a mint sprig.

Mint Julep cocktail served in metallic traditional cup

Mojito

The mojito is a bit softer version of a minty cocktail. It's refreshing with a nice sweet and sour balance. Mojitos are made by muddling mint leaves with sugar or simple syrup and adding lime juice, club soda, and rum. They are served in a rocks or collins glass over ice.

Mixing Mojitos in Havana, Cuba

Whiskey Smash

The whiskey smash is similar to the mint julep. It's a combination of muddled mint and lemon combined with simple syrup and whiskey.

Whiskey Smash drink

Ingredients

  • 3 lemon wedges
  • 6 mint leaves
  • ¾ ounce simple syrup
  • 1½ ounces whiskey
  • Ice
  • Mint sprig for garnish

Instructions

  1. In a cocktail shaker, muddle the mint with the lemon and simple syrup.
  2. Add the whiskey and ice and shake to chill.
  3. Strain into a rocks glass filled with ice.
  4. Garnish with the mint sprig.

Martini Cocktails to Order in Bars

If you prefer your cocktail a bit dry and aromatic, then you can't go wrong with any of the classic martinis.

Two martini drinks
  • Martinis can range in dryness from almost straight gin to a 1:1 ratio of gin to dry Vermouth.

  • A dirty martini adds olive brine to the mix.

  • A vodka martini uses vodka in place of gin.

  • The vesper martini is James Bond's favorite dry martini with Lillet Blanc, vodka, and gin.

Great Bittersweet Mixed Drinks at Bars

Some people enjoy the balance of bitter and sweet in their cocktails, and these bittersweet drinks are fairly standard in bar repertoires.

Negroni and Boulevardier

The Negroni and it's sister drink, the Boulevardier, are both made with the bright sunset-colored bitter liqueur Campari. Sweet Vermouth adds sweet to balance the bitter of the Campari, and the Negroni uses gin while the Boulevardier uses whiskey. Both offer the perfect blend of bitter and sweet that allows these cocktails to serve as apéritifs.

Negroni cocktail

Aperol Spritz

Aperol is similar to Campari in both color and bitterness (it's slightly less bitter) with aromatics of orange peel and herbs. The Aperol spritz is the perfect blend of bitter Aperol with Prosecco, orange, and club soda. It's a bittersweet, refreshing cocktail.

Traditional Italian aperitif Aperol Spriz with orange and ice

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces Aperol
  • 3 ounces Prosecco
  • 1 ounce club soda
  • Ice
  • Orange wheel for garnish

Instructions

  1. In a wine glass, combine the Aperol, Prosecco, club soda, and ice. Stir.
  2. Garnish with the orange wheel.

Delicious Bar Drinks for Every Taste

Regardless of your personal taste, there's a bar drink you're sure to love. Even if you don't love alcohol, you can order many of the fruity bar drinks alcohol-free and still enjoy a delicious, non-alcoholic cocktail. The next time you go to a bar, try some of these tasty drinks to find out which types you enjoy.

Best Drinks to Order at a Bar for Every Taste