Skip to main content

We know the most popular cocktails — Try these underrated drinks instead

Try some alternatives to the most popular cocktails

Cocktails
M.S. Meeuwesen/Unsplash

Recently, we wrote an article about the 10 most popular cocktails in the US. Not surprisingly, it was littered with classic drinks like the Mojito, Margarita, Old Fashioned, and Moscow Mule. But drinking cocktails isn’t a popularity contest. Just because many people seem to enjoy Espresso Martinis doesn’t mean you have to stop drinking your classic Dirty Martini.

But, if you take a moment to peruse the list of the 10 most popular drinks, you might see a few you like and others you aren’t sure about. That’s okay. Lucky for you, we’re here to help. That’s why today we’re all about the underdogs.

Instead of drinking your way through the top 10 list of drinks everyone loves, why not give the slightly less beloved (but equally delicious) cocktails a chance? We’re talking about the underrated cocktails you should try if you enjoy all (or any) of the 10 most popular cocktails in the US.

What makes a drink underrated?

Cocktail
Stanislav Ivanitskiy/Unsplash

If a drink is popular at all, it’s probably not underrated. It’s just that, compared to some of the most popular drinks, it might not get as much attention as it deserves. Many underrated cocktails are still household names. It’s simply that you might not order them, instead opting for a more well-known mixed drink. If you do this, you’re doing yourself a disservice because you’re missing out on some amazing, nuanced, complex cocktails.

The 10 most popular cocktails and underrated options

Cocktails
Moritz Mentges/Unsplash

We recently wrote about the 10 most popular cocktails based on NielsonIQ polling. Not surprisingly, there are many well-known classic cocktails as well as some more contemporary picks. While there’s nothing wrong with drinking your way through this list, if you already like these drinks and want to try something new, there are complementary options available. Keep scrolling to see the best, underrated cocktails to drink if you like the 10 most popular mixed drinks.

10.)French 75 instead of a Bellini

French 75
Stephen Harlan / Unsplash

While a Bellini is known for its sweet peach flavor that pairs well with Prosecco or any other sparkling wine, we think a great option to drink instead is the French 75. While not as sweet as the Bellini, it ticks the sparkling wine box and also has gin, lemon juice, and simple syrup.

9.) Harvey Wallbanger instead of a Mimosa

harvey wallbanger
Cyrus McCrimmon/Getty Images / Cyrus McCrimmon/Getty Images

If you like a Mimosa in the morning, you might enjoy a Harvey Wallbanger. Popular in the 1970s, this take on the Screwdriver is made with vodka, Galliano (a sweet herbal liqueur), and fresh orange juice. It doesn’t have Champagne, but the booze and fresh orange juice should hit the spot.

8.) Aperol and grapefruit soda instead of Spritz

Paloma
Kateryna T / Unsplash

While you might enjoy the effervescence of a great Aperol spritz, it’s likely the bittersweet flavors that bring you back for more. This is why we suggest imbibing a simple drink of Aperol and grapefruit soda. Yes, it is as simple as that.

7.) Rum and Cola instead of Long Island Iced Tea

Rum and cola
Blake Wisz/Unsplash

The iconic Long Island Iced Tea might taste like boozy iced tea, but it gets this flavor from a ridiculous number of ingredients. The list includes gin, vodka, white rum, tequila, cola, and more. Instead, opt for a simple rum and cola. It’s easy to make and less likely to give you an epic hangover the next day.

6.) Southside instead of a Mojito

Southside
iStock

If you enjoy the fresh, clean, herbal, minty flavor of a well-made Mojito, you’ll love a classic Southside cocktail. It’s very similar to the Mojito, except it swaps out rum for gin. The rest of the ingredients include lemon juice, simple syrup, and, of course, mint.

5.) Vieux Carre instead of Old Fashioned

Vieux Carre
Paige Ledford/Unsplash

When it comes to classic whiskey-based cocktails, it’s difficult to beat the appeal of an Old Fashioned. But if you want to try something similar, we suggest a Vieux Carre made with rye whiskey, cognac, sweet vermouth, Bénédictine, and Peychaud’s bitters.

4.) White Russian instead of Espresso Martini

white russian cocktail
Dan Baker / The Manual

While it doesn’t have the same caffeine kick as an Espresso Martini, if you enjoy the indulgent, dessert-like aspect of the drink, you’ll enjoy a classic White Russian. This favorite of Jeffrey Lebowski is made with vodka, fresh cream, and coffee liqueur.

3.) Penicillin instead of Moscow Mule

penicillin
Getty Images/iStockphoto Copyright: brent Hofacker

Who doesn’t love a refreshing, spicy, sweet Moscow Mule, right? Well, if you’re looking for something different that still has the ginger spice element, we suggest Penicillin. A little more complex and complicated than a Moscow Mule, this drink is made with blended Scotch whisky, fresh lemon juice, honey ginger syrup, and peated single malt Scotch whisky.

2.) Martinez instead of Martini

Martinez
iStock

The classic Martini is simple, boozy, and elegant. It’s difficult to find a suitable replacement. But, if you’re looking for something slightly different, we suggest a Martinez. This richer and most robust version of the iconic cocktail is made with gin, sweet vermouth, maraschino cherry liqueur, and Angostura bitters.

1.) Caipirinha instead of Margarita

cachaca caipirinha cocktail
Paulo Leandro Souza De Vilela Pinto

We completely understand why the Margarita is the most popular cocktail. When made with fresh ingredients, it has tequila sweetness and tart, sweet citrus working in perfect unison. A tremendous complementary cocktail is a Caipirinha. The national cocktail of Brazil is made with Cachaça, sugar, and lime wedges.

Bottom line

Godfather cocktail
Ambitious Studio* - Rick Barrett/Unsplash

Branch out and try something different. There’s nothing wrong with liking what you like, but it’s always a good idea to broaden your palate by trying something new from time to time.

Editors' Recommendations

Christopher Osburn
Christopher Osburn is a food and drinks writer located in the Finger Lakes Region of New York. He's been writing professional
The paper plane cocktail puts a bourbon twist on a classic drink
This contemporary take on the Last Word is already a classic.
Paper Plane

The cocktail renaissance of the early aughts has returned many classic cocktails to the prominence they deserve. It’s also paved the way for talented, creative bartenders to create contemporary cocktails that will one day be referred to by the “classic” moniker. While there are countless complex cocktails crafted in the last few decades, one of the best is the Paper Plane.
What is a Paper Plane?

Similar to a classic Last Word which consists of equal parts gin, Green Chartreuse, lime juice, and maraschino liqueur, the Paper Airplane is made with equal parts bourbon, Amaro Nonino, Aperol, and lemon juice. While the two drinks might not seem similar, it’s the number of ingredients and equal parts that make them mirror images (albeit a bit foggy) of each other.

Read more
Lagavulin 16: what you really need to know about this smoky, Islay Scotch
This may be the best smoky scotch
Lagavulin 16 on the rocks

There’s a remarkable amount of variety when it comes to Scotch whisky. You can split it into five broad categories: Highland, Lowland, Speyside, Campbelltown, and Islay, but there’s a lot of overlap and diversity within many of those categories. There are also stalwart examples of each style, and Lagavulin 16 is a great example of an Islay.

If you want to get into the spirit, which is traditionally created off the west coast of Scotland, then Lagavulin 16 is the best place to start. The trouble is, you probably shouldn’t start with an Islay if your scotch adventures are just beginning.

Read more
Our favorite bourbon cocktails for summer (it’s not just a cold-weather drink)
Yes, bourbon is a summer spirit
Cocktail

We get it. Bourbon is warming, sometimes quite potent, and well-suited for fall and midwinter sipping. But if you don’t also think of bourbon whiskey as a summer spirit, you’re doing it wrong. Sure, you can enjoy a nuanced, complex bourbon on an unseasonably cool evening while you sit around a campfire. But it’s also a great spirit for mixing into fresh, seasonably appropriate summer bourbon cocktails.
Why bourbon works for summer cocktails

While gin, vodka, tequila, and rum seem to get most of the love during the warmer months, if you’re letting your bourbon bottles collect dust, you’re really missing out. The corn-based spirit pairs perfectly with herbs, sparkling water, and other fresh, warm-weather ingredients.

Read more