14 classic cocktails from around the world & where to sip them at the source
Brazil’s national drink is made with the national spirit, cachaça. Cachaça is distilled from fermented sugarcane and tastes dry, vegetal, and green, making it ripe for mixing. Add sugar and lime to brighten and complement the strong flavors of the cachaça, and you’ve got yourself a caipirinha, which is best enjoyed in one of our top tropical destinations. This muddled concoction is somewhat of a hidden gem amongst classic cocktails, but it’s a great option for those who like mojitos and are looking for a grassier complexity.
Taste a caipirinha on one of our Brazil tours →
2. Hot toddy
India or Ireland
One of the world’s most famous drinks, the hot toddy, has roots in India, where a drink made from the fermented sap of a toddy palm tree is called a taddy or tadi. The British occupying troops brought the drink back to the UK and added whiskey to the cocktail, therefore renaming and redefining it as a toddy—a warm, alcoholic drink with herbs and spices. Today, a hot toddy is most common in Ireland and contains Irish whiskey, hot water, honey, a hint of lemon, and varying seasonal spices (think cardamom, star anise, cinnamon, and cloves), making it the perfect herbal tipple to enjoy on a wintry evening. Bop around the top-ranked pubs in Dublin to find your favorite spice blend.
Try a hot toddy, or a tadi, on one of our Ireland or India tours →
Spain & Portugal
Like those of many classic cocktails, the origins of sangria are disputed. Flavoring wine with herbs and fruit dates back to the Ancient Greeks and Romans, but today the two countries that excel at making one of the most popular drinks around the world are Portugal and Spain. Sangria is usually fruity and sweet and comes in colors as various and vibrant as the tiles in Barcelona’s Park Güell. You can make this type of drink with a red, white, or rosé wine base, which means you can choose the flavor of your sangria. We recommend trying, well, all of them, but red sangria is the most traditional variation in Spain and Portugal.
Treat your tastebuds to sweet and citrusy sangria on any of our Spain and Portugal tours →
The origins of sangria’s little sister, the kalimotxo, can be traced directly back to the Basque region of Spain roughly 100 years ago. Kalimotxos comprise a simple mix of red wine and cola and although that combination might sound unappealing, keep an open mind. This unique drink has become a famous cocktail for good reason. Once the popular drink’s earthy, semi-sweet flavor hits your tastebuds, you might be surprised by how much you like it.
Say “salud” with a kalimotxo on one of our Spain tours →
5. Hemingway daiquiri
Named after the legendary author (and known imbiber), the Hemingway daiquiri is one of the most popular drinks in the world. Its recipe is a twist on another type of drink, the rum daiquiri. Hemingway’s doctors told him to reduce his sugar intake, so he compromised by creating his own version of the daiquiri with rum, fresh lime, and grapefruit juice—and no sugar. Lucky for us, Hemingway daiquiris today contain sugar and maraschino liqueur, ingredients whose sweetness balances out the citrus fruits’ tart and acidic flavors. This popular cocktail is bright, slightly bitter, round, and easy to enjoy on a dreamy Cuban day (whether you’re a novelist or not).
Taste Hemingway’s favorite cocktail on our Cuba People & Culture: Havana, Trinidad & Cienfuegos tour. You’ll visit Hotel Nacional to learn about its significance and to enjoy another classic rum cocktail, the mojito.
The mojito is more than a famous cocktail. It’s a minty masterpiece. This popular drink is enjoyed wherever rum, lime, sugar, and mint are plentiful—but like the daiquiri, it originated in Cuba. This delightful drink is ideal for those sweltering Caribbean days. Like a limeade for adults, it’s bright, sweet, and refreshing.
Cool down with a mojito on our Cuba People & Culture: Havana, Trinidad & Cienfuegos tour →
7. Pisco sour
The national spirit of Peru is a brandy called pisco, but, unlike softer, aged, European brandies, this one is vegetal, dry, and a little musty. It’s a spirit best enjoyed in the classic cocktail made and named especially for it—the pisco sour. The ingredients of this punchy tipple also include lime juice, sugar, egg white, and Angostura bitters for garnish. This famous drink is bright, with a roundness from the sugar and frothy texture from the egg white that will keep you coming back for more.
Enjoy a pisco sour on one of our Peru tours and make your own during a cooking class on our Grand Tour of Peru: Machu Picchu to Lake Titicaca →
Classic cocktails pair well with...
8. Aperol spritz
No summer day is complete without an Aperol spritz. Made with Aperol (an amaro or aperitivo), prosecco, and a dash of soda water, this spritz is one of the most famous drinks around the world. (Psst... learn everything you need to know about Italian aperitivo here.) Once the Aperol spritz graces your tastebuds, you’ll understand why it's so popular. The Aperol lends notes of orange and hints of bitterness that the prosecco and soda water mellow and sweeten while offering a celebratory fizz. This classic cocktail is perfect to enjoy on warm days under sunny skies, especially on the Amalfi Coast.
Sip a spritz on one of our Italy tours →
Meet the cocktail world’s happiest accident—the Sbagliato, a variation of a Negroni, which is one of the most popular drinks in the world. The Sbagliato gets its name from the Italian word for “mistake.” That’s because a bartender in Milan is said to have unintentionally used prosecco instead of gin when mixing a Negroni, making a new drink altogether. This accidental, but delicious, cocktail has grown in fame over the last few months thanks to social media and is now one of the most popular drinks from around the world. If you enjoy an Aperol spritz, we recommend trying a Sbagliato. It’s a little more bitter and less citrusy than a spritz, but has a round, herbal body and vivacious top layer of bubbles.
Try a Sbagliato on one of our Italy tours →
Don’t mistake this Italian highball for a coffee with espresso. The Americano cocktail is yet another amaro-based, effervescent, and sippable masterpiece from Italy. This popular drink is a Sbaglatio, but with soda water instead of prosecco, making it low in alcohol and high in tastiness. This little under-the-radar cocktail is one of the best drinks around and works well as a digestif. Cin cin!
Order an Americano cocktail on one of our Italy tours →
Made with tequila, lime juice, and orange liqueur, the margarita consistently ranks among the most popular drinks in the world. While it’s commonly found on menus around the world, don’t underestimate the craft that goes into creating one. It starts with tequila, which is a type of mezcal—a spirit distilled from agave. To be categorized as tequila, the spirit must be made with Blue Weber agave and come from one of five designated regions in Mexico. Many restaurants whip up their own variations of margaritas with added citrus, fruit, and floral flavors but, no matter how it’s made, this famous drink will always be bright, sour, and muy rico. (We recommend a salt rim to bring a savory contrast to the sweetness of the drink.)
Taste the nectar of Blue Weber agave on our Mexico tour →
We can’t mention classic cocktails and not bring up the drink that, according to legend, started it all. The Sazerac was invented in New Orleans when whiskey was hot, harsh, and difficult to stomach. Sugar, Peychaud’s bitters, and an absinthe rinse were added, and the first cocktail was born. (Fun fact: Peychaud’s bitters was invented in New Orleans at an apothecary for medicinal purposes.) The Sazerac’s popularity surged in America with the cocktail revival of the early 2000s and today, most cocktail bars in the U.S. should be able to make you one of these simple yet iconic herbal sippers.
Experience a piece of cocktail history on one of our tours of America →
Another one of the most famous drinks from around the world, the Manhattan is named after New York City’s buzziest borough. And that’s not the cocktail’s only nod to NYC: It’s made by mixing two ounces of bourbon, one ounce of sweet vermouth, and two dashes of Angostura bitters—a 2:1:2 formula that mirrors one of The Big Apple’s most widely used area codes. Bourbon offers a rich roundness to the cocktail, vermouth adds hints of cherry sweetness, and the bitters bring a burst of clove, cinnamon, and orange, elevating the flavor profile from simply delicious to absolutely iconic. If you enjoy this type of drink, be sure to sample any of the Manhattan variations that have popped up over the years—including the next cocktail on our list.
Have this American classic on one of our United States tours →
14. Vieux Carré
Its name might be French, but the Vieux Carré cocktail is an American invention (and one of the best cocktails available, if you ask us). It was crafted in the French Quarter of New Orleans, and its name translates to “old square,” another name for the popular NOLA neighborhood. This Manhattan variation is made with rye, cognac, sweet vermouth, Bénédictine, Peychaud’s, and Angostura bitters. Rye supplies the drink with spice, cognac brings buttery richness, and vermouth adds hints of sweetness—all layered against the herbal Bénédictine and bitters. Much like the French Quarter itself, this classic cocktail has stood the test of time.
Explore more historical American cities on one of our United States tours →