6 Drinks a Cocktail Expert Thinks You Should Try

Put down that martini and margarita!

A bartender pours a freshly made drink into a glass.

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A bartender pours a freshly made drink into a glass.

Photo by: Marianna Massey

Marianna Massey

Everybody has their go-to drink: something they’ll order time and again, no matter where they are. There is something deeply comforting about consistency and routine, especially in a world that can feel chaotic and out of control. Having a favorite, familiar drink that hits the exact same notes, time and again, is a joy that should not be deprived of anyone.

But what if you’re looking to branch out a bit? I’ve put together a list of six ubiquitous classics and their slightly more out-there counterparts to help expand your horizons and maybe even ingratiate yourself to a bartender who’s a little bored with everyone's routine ordering…

First, Some Bar Etiquette

It’s a good idea to get to know the place you’re ordering from before rattling off cocktail names that aren’t on the menu. Also, limit your “off-menu” drink ordering to less busy times so your bartender isn’t stuck rifling around their backbar on a busy night while orders pile up. A great place to start exploring these drinks is at home; all of the ingredients in these drinks should be easy to find, and none require special equipment beyond standard bar tools.

Refreshing Boozy Jack Rose Apple Cocktail with Brandy

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Refreshing Boozy Jack Rose Apple Cocktail with Brandy

Photo by: bhofack2

bhofack2

If you like a Daiquiri, try a Jack Rose

The Daiquiri is one of the most primal cocktails: rum, lime and sugar. It’s a great showcase for the power of cocktails to transform spirits and a perennial favorite due to its vibrant acidity and refreshing character. A drink I love for the same reason is the Jack Rose, a shaken concoction of apple brandy, grenadine and lemon juice that was massively popular a century ago. It still gives the same pop of citrussy goodness that the Daiquiri does, but with added layers of complexity due to the brandy and grenadine.

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Photo by: Tim Bieber

Tim Bieber

If you like a Manhattan, try a Vieux Carré

You can’t go wrong with a Manhattan’s balance of sweet and bitter, thanks to spicy Bourbon and botanical sweet vermouth. A Vieux Carré re-proportions the ingredients of the Manhattan to make room for Campari and Benedictine, two bitter liqueurs. I find this to be one of the most food-friendly cocktails and a great one to try next time you’re sitting down to a rich, savory meal.

Boozy Refreshing Bijou Gin Cocktail with Chartreuse

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Boozy Refreshing Bijou Gin Cocktail with Chartreuse

Photo by: bhofack2

bhofack2

If you like a Martini, try a Bijou

The Martini is a drink that finds a way to be both ethereal and seriously strong. To me it is one of the safest choices out there in terms of getting the drink you want, regardless of who is making it. If you want to get a bit more daring, the Bijou is an excellent next step. The recipe swaps out lighter dry vermouth for its headier sibling, sweet vermouth, and tosses in a good measure of Green Chartreuse to add an herbaceous punch. Chartreuse is a French herbal liqueur made by monks according to an ancient recipe and is an essential element in many classic cocktails, and the Bijou is a great way to get acquainted.

Espresso Tonic on Wooden Table

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Espresso Tonic on Wooden Table

Photo by: Dudits

Dudits

If you like a Gin & Tonic, try an Americano

The Gin & Tonic is a classic, easy drink that even the most novice bartenders should be able to master. But it’s not going to win any awards for creativity. If you enjoy a long, fizzy, slightly bitter drink, an Americano is a great alternate. A blend of sweet vermouth, Campari, and soda water, the Americano retains the slight bitterness of the Gin & Tonic while offering a bit more in terms of complexity. Plus, Campari and sweet vermouth are lower proof than gin, which makes it a great lunchtime refresher.

Refreshing Cold Corpse Reviver No 2 Cocktail with Gin

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Refreshing Cold Corpse Reviver No 2 Cocktail with Gin

Photo by: bhofack2

bhofack2

If you like a Margarita, try a Corpse Reviver No. 2

Nothing beats the Margarita — a perfect summertime cocktail with vibrant Tequila, zesty orange liqueur, lime juice and salt. Think of the Corpse Reviver No. 2 as the Margarita’s more austere distant cousin. Both drinks share fresh citrus and orange liqueur, but the Corpse Reviver No. 2 incorporates gin and Lillet Blanc, a French aperitif, and a small dash of absinthe to give the drink a steely, herbal tinge. (And in case you’re wondering, there is a Corpse Reviver No. 1 and it’s nothing to write home about.)

Homemade Classic Old Pal Cocktail with Whiskey and Vermouth

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Homemade Classic Old Pal Cocktail with Whiskey and Vermouth

Photo by: bhofack2

bhofack2

If you like a Negroni, try a Hanky-Panky

The Negroni is one of the most ubiquitous classic cocktails in the world, and for good reason. It’s three equal parts of easy-to-find ingredients: gin, Campari and sweet vermouth, and it’s approachable but offers enough complexity to keep people coming back. The Hanky-Panky was created by one of the most iconic female bartenders in history, Ada Coleman, who ran the bar at the Savoy Hotel in London over a century ago. It shares the Negroni’s gin and sweet vermouth, but swaps out the Campari for a small measure of the bracingly bitter Italian amaro Fernet-Branca. Think of it as a slightly more buttoned-up and stern alternative to your beloved Negroni.

John deBary is the author of Drink What You Want: The Subjective Guide to Making Objectively Delicious Cocktails; CEO and Founder of Proteau, a zero-proof drinks company; and is also the Co-Founder and Board President of Restaurant Workers’ Community Foundation.

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