Yesterday, we asked brewers to tell us the one beer they’d drink for the rest of their lives if they had to choose just one. Before that, we asked bartenders to pick the one whiskey they’d drink on a desert island. It only makes sense that we’d eventually make our way to classic cocktails.
That’s why we asked some of our favorite bartenders to tell us the one classic cocktail they’d drink for the rest of their lives. The stipulation, just like with the other articles, is that this is literally the only cocktail they can ever mix up or order. Forever.
For us, it’s a tough choice as many cocktails are seasonal. From the Negroni to the Old Fashioned, most of our favorites got a shout out from the bartenders below. After reading them over, we’re sure you’ll be glad you don’t actually have to pick just one of these classics.
Shawn Chen, beverage director at RedFarm in New York City
If I could only drink one cocktail for the rest of my life, I think I would go with a Paloma. It is just such a season-less cocktail that I wouldn’t mind drinking it all year long. A classic Paloma has the perfect amount of citrus and sweet, and it is just a very well-balanced cocktail in my opinion.
Kelly Gable, bar manager at Josephine in Nashville
If I had to drink one classic cocktail for the rest of my life, I would go with a Negroni. I know a few people who could drink them all day. As for why, I just never get tired of them. It’s a great go-to when you can’t decide on a drink. It’s light and refreshing in the summer and it’s bitter and warming in the winter.
Paul Walker, mixologist at The Dawson in Chicago
Boulevardier. I love how the bitter-sweet, roasted orange notes of the Campari perfectly accentuate the caramel and vanilla notes in the whiskey. This Negroni riff with a favored whiskey is a great pat on the back at the end of a hard fought night.
Cassandra Zuger, lead bartender at The Twisted Frenchman in Pittsburgh
Manhattan. A traditional Woodford Rye Manhattan has always been my go-to pre-dinner cocktail. Although lately, I have really come to appreciate the many variations available of this classic simply by choosing unique bitters and/or infusing a quality vermouth.
Sarah Turbett, head bartender at Oak Steakhouse in Nashville
If I could only drink one classic cocktail for the rest of my life it would be a Last Word. The Last Word is the perfect balance of herbal, sweet and tart. To be honest, I could probably live off of Chartreuse alone, but with all the amazing new gins now out on the market, I’ll never get bored with this cocktail.
Josh Cameron, head bartender of Boulton & Watt in New York City
Old Fashioned. Hands down. As I have said before, to make or drink an old fashioned is to attach oneself to history. It doesn’t hurt that it’s the perfect spirit-forward cocktail. You can’t beat those bitters coupled with the essence of the citrus peels rising from the glass.
Tim Prendergast, bartender at The Outsider in Milwaukee
If I could only drink one classic cocktail for the rest of my life, which one would I drink and why? An Americano. It’s bitter, complex and low enough in alcohol to enjoy with brunch or dinner.
Jane Danger, national mixologist at Pernod Ricard
If I could only drink one classic cocktail for the rest of my life it would be a sour. I love the family of “Sour” Style drinks — gimlet, daiquiri, and shake. All favorites. I just adore limes.
1934 Zombie Punch
Brian Miller, beverage director at The Polynesian in New York City
If I could only drink one classic cocktail for the rest of my life it would be the 1934 Zombie Punch. Because it’s delicious and it’ll probably make me forget why I can only have one type of cocktail for the rest of my life.
Jerry Flores, Bartender at Naia Resort & Spa in Belize
The only classic cocktail that I would drink the rest of my life would be the Caipirinha because it’s inexpensive, simple to make and gives you a nice mellow feeling.