Do you like piña coladas and getting caught in the rain? Are you shaken or stirred? Is something with a splash of red, red wine more your style? Whatever you enjoy, World Cocktail Day is the time to celebrate the drinks we love!
World Cocktail Day takes place on 13 May each year. It’s a global celebration of cocktails and marks the anniversary of the publication date of the first definition of a cocktail (which happened over 200 years ago on 13 May 1806 in American publication The Balance and Columbian Repository).
Cocktails have been enjoyed for years around the world. Many of us will recognise classic cocktails like martinis and cosmopolitans. Or the more tropical varieties we treat ourselves to on vacation, such as margaritas and piña coladas! They symbolise holidays, parties, fun nights out with friends and even the odd boozy brunch! What’s great is that you don’t need to be a drinker to enjoy a cocktail – just opt for an alcohol-free version.
In honour of the day dedicated to all things cocktail, we have put together a list of iconic cocktails, where they originated from around the world and our pick of the ideal place to sip on them!
Take a look at our pick of iconic cocktails from around the world:
A quintessential beach cocktail that originated in Puerto Rico! A piña colada is made with a sweet mix of rum, coconut cream and pineapple juice. Rumour has it that it was created by the pirate Roberto Cofresí who served it to his crew to boost morale back in the 1800s! Whatever the story, today it is Puerto Rico’s national drink and a well-loved favourite around the world.
Best place to enjoy a piña colada: On the beaches of Puerto Rico of course! If you can’t make it to Puerto Rico, a sunshine drenched beach or coastal café will do!
This classic Italian cocktail originated in Northern Italy in the early 1900s. It is a bitter and bubbly mix of Aperol (an Italian bitter), prosecco and club soda. Today it is enjoyed in Italy (and worldwide!) as a refreshing cocktail – usually as an apertivo (a pre-dinner drink).
Best place to enjoy an Aperol spritz: At a cosy trattoria in Rome, Lake Como, Tuscany, Venice, or southern Italy (basically anywhere in Italy – the choice is yours!).
Like with most cocktails, the exact origin story of the mojito is often disputed… but what we do know is that it was born in Havana, Cuba! A mojito is a mix of club soda, lime, white rum, mint and sugar. The sweet and citrusy mix makes it a super popular summer drink!
Best place to enjoy a mojito: At one of Havana’s bohemian bars and vibrant restaurants.
According to popular legend, the Manhattan cocktail was invented at the Manhattan Club in New York City, USA, in the late 1880s (allegedly for a banquet hosted by Winston Churchill’s mother – although many people doubt this part of the story as Lady Randolph Churchill would have been pregnant with Winston at the time). It is a mix of rye or bourbon whiskey, sweet vermouth and bitters with a maraschino cherry garnish. This cocktail is the perfect choice for whiskey-lovers!
Best place to enjoy a Manhattan: At one of New York City’s trendy bars or better yet, at the famous Manhattan Club itself!
The fruity pink concoction was a popular cocktail for ladies at the beginning of the 20th century. It remains a firm favourite today! The Singapore sling combines gin, Grand Marnier, cherry liqueur, herbal liqueur (Bénédictine is a popular option), pineapple, lime, bitters and club soda. The story goes that the Singapore sling was created by Chinese bartender Ngiam Tong Boon a the Raffles Hotel in Singapore around 1915. He crafted it so women could enjoy an alcoholic drink (disguised as fruity punch) at a time when public drinking was considered to be a men’s activity.
Best place to enjoy a Singapore sling: At one of Singapore’s speciality cocktail bars, its buzzing restaurants or, of course, at the Long Bar at Raffles Hotel where it was created!
The caipirinha (pronounced kai-pir-in-ya) is a refreshing mix of cachaça (pronounced cah-cha-za which is a rum-like liqueur from Brazil), lime and sugar topped with ice. This refreshing drink is perfect for Brazil’s long, hot summers! The name means “little countryside drink”. No one can say exactly when and how the caipirinha was invented but one theory suggests that a variation of the drink was used as a treatment during the Spanish flu epidemic!
Best place to enjoy a caipirinha: At one of Rio de Janeiro’s lively bars!
Was it crafted by Mexican restauranter Carlos Danny Herrera for a Ziegfeld showgirl or was it Texas socialite Margaret Sames who whipped it up at a house party in Mexico? No one knows the true origin of the margarita which emerged between the 1930s and 40s and became super popular! The cocktail is a mix of tequila, orange liqueur and lime juice served with salt around the rim of the glass. You can even enjoy a frozen margarita these days!
Best place to enjoy a margarita: Somewhere warm! If you’re not in Mexico, sip your margarita near a pool, at a beachside café or simply outside in the sunshine.
As with most of the drinks on this list, the origin of the Sidecar cocktail has become jumbled in history. Some say it was created in Harry’s New York Bar in Paris, France around the end of World War I for an American army captain who used to travel to the bistro in a motorcycle sidecar. Others believe it was created by Pat MacGarry at the Bucks Club in London in the early 1900s. Whatever the true story is, the Sidecar remains a popular classic; it’s a mix of cognac, orange liqueur and lemon juice.
Best place to enjoy a Sidecar: Pick a side or choose both! Enjoy a Sidecar on the cobblestone streets of a quaint Parisian neighbourhood. Or head to London and find a bustling spot to sit down and sip on a classic Sidecar.
Both Peru and Chile lay claim to being the birthplace of the Pisco Sour with both sides having a lot of evidence to support their claim. One story goes that American Victor Morris created it as an alternative to a whiskey sour at Morris Bar in Lima. Whatever the true story is, the drink emerged in the early 1900s. While the origin is fiercely debated, one thing is for sure – the unique taste of the Pisco sour! Throw together pisco (Peruvian brandy), lime/lemon juice, sugar syrup, egg whites and ice to enjoy a Pisco sour.
Best place to enjoy a Pisco sour: At one of the stunning hotel bars in Lima for the Peruvian version – or travel to Santiago for the Chilean version!
One of the oldest drinks on the block! This Spanish wine punch’s origins stretch back hundreds of years to medieval times (and even thousands of years to the early Greeks and Romans who drank a version of it!). Back then water was not always safe to drink. To reduce the risk of illness, people drank wine mixed with sugar, spices and fruits. Today’s recipes may vary across the world but the base stays the same: red wine and chopped up fruits (often an extra spirit like brandy is added). Sangria is one of the most popular drinks to enjoy with Spanish cuisine!
Best place to enjoy sangria: Find a local Spanish spot that serves delicious tapas and enjoy a few glasses of sangria with your meal!
Related: Check out these Spanish destinations that locals and travellers alike will love!
This iconic British cocktail is a summer favourite and signature drink of the Wimbledon tennis tournament! James Pimm (owner of a London oyster bar) created the Pimm’s Cup between 1823 and 1840. The cocktail is a mix of Pimm’s No. 1 Cup (a gin-based liqueur), lemonade and ice topped with mint and fresh fruit. Today, the refreshing drink is incredibly popular during the warmer summer months.
Best place to enjoy a Pimm’s Cup: Channel your inner-Brit and enjoy a Pimm’s cup at a local pub or beer garden in the UK on a warm summer’s evening.
Try something new! Celebrate World Cocktail Day this year with one of these tasty drinks from around the world! Better yet, enjoy one of these cocktails in the countries they were created in on your next trip with Expat Explore. Draw up your list of “must-tastes” and start planning your future vacation today!
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