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11 Modern Classic Cocktail Recipes With a Twist

Karen Frazier
alcoholic cosmopolitan cocktail

Modern classic cocktails are often derived from popular classic cocktails, and they have interesting twists in ingredients that make them a new cocktail altogether. Once a cocktail has made it onto multiple bar menus as a new, named cocktail, it can be considered a modern classic. However, it's always fun to take even modern classics and change them so they are fresh and have a chance to become new and exciting cocktails.

1. Rosemary Black Pepper Cosmopolitan

The Cosmopolitan is surely a modern American classic, popularized by the television show Sex in the City. And while you can make it exactly as it is, you can also mix it up by adding rosemary and black pepper flavors that blend well with the sweet-tart lime and cranberry notes in the original.

Ingredients

Instructions

  1. Chill a cocktail glass or martini glass.
  2. In a cocktail shaker, combine the lime juice, cranberry juice, orange liqueur, vodka, and rosemary and black pepper cocktail spice.
  3. Add the ice. Shake to chill.
  4. Strain into the chilled glass. Garnish with a sprig of rosemary.

2. Moscato Aperol Spritz

The Aperol spritz is a combination of Prosecco and the bright orange bitter liqueur, Aperol. It is often used as an apéritif. A Moscato Aperol spritz is a tasty, slightly sweeter twist on the classic using Moscato d'Asti sparkling wine.

aperol spritz

Ingredients

  • 1½ ounce Aperol
  • 2½ ounces Moscato d'Asti, chilled
  • 1½ ounces sparkling water, chilled
  • Ice

Instructions

  1. In a wine glass, combine the Aperol, Moscato d'Asti, and the sparkling water.
  2. Add the ice and stir to chill.

3. Orange Maple Penicillin

Sweet, smoky, and spicy, the classic penicillin cocktail is a tasty combination of Scotch whisky, ginger, and honey. This version contains a twist on the classic flavorings, using pure maple syrup and maple bourbon to add sweetness that blends well with the spicy and smoky flavors in the original.

Orange Maple Penicillin cocktail

Ingredients

  • 1 orange slice
  • 3 slices of fresh ginger
  • ¾ ounce pure maple syrup
  • 1 ounce blended Scotch whisky
  • ¼ ounce smoky Islay single-malt Scotch whisky
  • 1 ounce maple bourbon
  • ¾ ounce fresh lemon juice
  • Ice
  • Orange peel for garnish

Instructions

  1. In a cocktail shaker, muddle the orange slice, ginger, and the maple syrup.
  2. Add the blended Scotch, single malt Scotch, maple bourbon, and lemon juice.
  3. Add the ice and shake to chill.
  4. Strain into an old-fashioned glass filled with ice. Garnish with the orange peel.

4. Brown Sugar Grapefruit Whiskey Smash

Smashes are nothing new - it is one of the oldest types of cocktails around. The mint julep is an example of a classic smash cocktail made with America's whiskey, bourbon. A classic whiskey smash is made with whiskey, lemon, mint, sugar, and lots of crushed ice. This one uses grapefruit for a sweet-tart flavor that's truly delicious.

Brown Sugar Grapefruit Whiskey Smash

Ingredients

  • 8 mint leaves
  • ¼ grapefruit, cut into wedges
  • ½ ounce simple syrup made with brown sugar
  • 2 ounces brown sugar bourbon
  • Ice cubes
  • Finely crushed ice
  • Mint sprig for garnish

Instructions

  1. In a cocktail shaker, muddle the mint leaves with the grapefruit and simple syrup.
  2. Add the brown sugar bourbon and ice. Shake to chill.
  3. Fill a julep cup or pint glass with finely crushed ice.
  4. Strain the cocktail into the glass.
  5. Garnish with a mint sprig.

5. Hazelnut Espresso Martini

The espresso martini is made with coffee liqueur, vodka, and brewed espresso, and it's a modern classic among cocktail lovers who enjoy relaxing with a cocktail that also keeps them awake. This version is a simple twist on the classic that adds sweetly nutty flavors.

Hazelnut Espresso Martini

Ingredients

  • 2 ounces vodka
  • 1 ounce Frangelico
  • ½ ounce coffee-flavored liqueur
  • 1 ounce freshly brewed espresso
  • Ice
  • Espresso beans for garnish

Instructions

  1. Chill a cocktail glass.
  2. In a cocktail shaker, combine the vodka, Frangelico, coffee liqueur, and espresso.
  3. Add the ice and shake to chill.
  4. Strain into the chilled cocktail glass and garnish with espresso beans.

6. Amaretto Cherry Sour

The amaretto sour is a modern classic with the bittersweet flavor of almonds and the sweet-tart flavor of sweet and sour mix. A splash of cherry liqueur cranks this up a notch.

Amaretto Cherry Sour

Ingredients

  • ¾ ounce lemon juice
  • ¾ ounce lime juice
  • ¾ ounce cherry liqueur
  • 1½ ounces amaretto
  • Splash of lemon-lime soda
  • Ice
  • Cherry and orange slice on a toothpick (flag) for garnish

Instructions

  1. In a cocktail shaker, combine the lemon juice, lime juice, cherry liquer, and amaretto.
  2. Add ice and shake to chill.
  3. Strain into a lowball glass filled with ice.
  4. Add the lemon lime soda and garnish with the cherry and orange slice flag.

7. Ginger Bramble Fizz

A classic bramble has gin and Crème de Mure (blackberry liqueur) in it along with lemon juice and syrup for balance. This version turns the bramble into a fizz for a lighter version of the drink. If you'd like to make a classic bramble, you can use the recipe below and omit the club soda and use regular simple syrup in place of the ginger simple syrup.

Ginger Bramble Fizz
  • 1½ ounces gin
  • ¾ ounce lemon juice
  • 1 barspoon ginger-infused simple syrup
  • ½ ounce Crème de Mure
  • Ice
  • 3 ounces club soda
  • Fresh blackberries and mint sprig for garnish

Instructions

  1. In a cocktail shaker, combine the gin, lemon juice, ginger-infused simple syrup, and Crème de Mure.
  2. Add the ice and shake to chill.
  3. Strain into a collins glass filled with ice.
  4. Add the club soda.
  5. Garnish with fresh blackberries and a mint sprig.

8. Spicy Paloma

The paloma, a Mexican cocktail, is a sweet-tart combination of grapefruit juice, lime juice, and tequila. This variation, the spicy paloma, will do for the paloma with a little heat does for the spicy margarita - take it to the next level.

Spicy Paloma

Ingredients

  • Sea salt mixed with ¼ teaspoon chipotle chili powder
  • Grapefruit wedge
  • 2 ounces fresh grapefruit juice
  • ½ ounce fresh lime juice
  • ¾ ounce simple syrup
  • 2 ounces blanco tequila
  • ½ to 1 teaspoon chipotle chili powder (to taste)
  • Ice
  • 2 ounces club soda

Instructions

  1. Mix the salt and ¼ teaspoon of chili powder and spread it in a thin layer on a plate.
  2. Run the grapefruit wedge around the edge of a lowball glass and dip the rim of the glass in the salt.
  3. In a cocktail shaker, combine the grapefruit juice, lime juice, simple syrup, tequila, and chipotle chili powder.
  4. Add ice and shake to chill.
  5. Fill the prepared glass with ice. Strain the drink over the ice.
  6. Top with the club soda.

9. Raspberry Gin Basil Smash

This modern classic is a variation on the classic smash cocktail. Adding raspberries brings another layer of sweet and tart to the fragrant basil and aromatic gin.

Raspberry Gin Basil Smash

Ingredients

  • 4 fresh raspberries
  • 8 basil leaves
  • 1 ounce simple syrup
  • 1 ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 2 ounces London dry gin
  • Ice
  • Lime wedge for garnish

Instructions

  1. In a cocktail shaker, muddle the raspberries, basil leaves, and simple syrup.
  2. Add the lemon juice, gin, and ice.
  3. Shake to chill.
  4. Pour (don't strain) into a lowball glass. Garnish with the lime wedge.

10. Orange Gin Gin Mule

The gin gin mule is similar to a Moscow mule made with gin with a little mint and syrup thrown in. This version has a citrus twist on the classic. If you wish to make a classic gin gin mule, simply replace the orange liqueur with an equal amount of simple syrup.

Orange Gin Gin Mule

Ingredients

  • 8 mint leaves
  • ¾ ounce orange liqueur
  • ¾ ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
  • 1½ ounces London dry gin
  • Ice
  • 4 ounces ginger beer
  • Lime slice and mint sprig for garnish

Instructions

  1. In a cocktail shaker, muddle the mint leaves with the orange liqueur.
  2. Add the lime juice, London dry gin, and ice.
  3. Shake to chill.
  4. Strain into a mule cup filled with ice. Top with the ginger beer.
  5. Garnish with a lime slice and mint sprig.

11. Anise White Negroni

The white negroni is a modern twist on the classic negroni, and it has gained popularity as a contemporary classic drink. It uses a type of French bitters called Suze, as well as dry vermouth. The result is a bittersweet aromatic cocktail. This version adds the additional flavor of anise through the simple technique of rinsing your glass with white absinthe before mixing the drink. If you can't find white absinthe, you can use a traditional green absinthe but the resulting cocktail may have a subtle green hue.

Anise White Negroni

Ingredients

  • ½ ounce white absinthe
  • 1½ ounces London dry gin
  • ½ ounce Suze
  • 1 ounce dry vermouth
  • Ice
  • Orange peel and rosemary sprig for garnish

Instructions

  1. Pour the absinthe in an old-fashioned glass and swirl it around to coat the inside of the glass. Dump any extra.
  2. Add the gin, Suze, and vermouth along with a few ice cubes. Stir to chill.
  3. Garnish with the orange peel and rosemary sprig.

New Twists on Contemporary Classic Cocktails

It's an exciting time in mixology because there are so many great new ingredients on the market that allow you to alter or enhance the flavor profiles of classic and contemporary cocktails. With such a variety of ingredients, it's easy to enjoy a twist on a classic cocktail or create your own.

11 Modern Classic Cocktail Recipes With a Twist