July 26, 2022 by Helena Lombard
Every cocktail has a story, one that usually involves a brilliant inventor and an equally brilliant place. We’re taking you on a whirlwind tour of some of the best cocktail bars in the world and introducing you to some legends who created some of the most iconic cocktails. When it comes to what cocktails to order at a bar, things can get a little confusing. If you’re ever lucky enough to visit these bars, use this as your guide.
1. Harry’s New York Bar: Paris
Our first stop is Paris. To be more specific, Harry’s New York Bar located in the city’s 2nd district, a stone’s throw away from the Opera Garnier. This famous bar was born in 1911 and is aptly named since it was an actual New York establishment that was dismantled, shipped to Paris and rebuilt in the heart of the city. We think that’s super cool and deserving of a spot on our best cocktail bars to visit.
A lot of people associate Harry’s New York Bar with the creation of the Side Car Cocktail, but that’s incorrect. That being said, Harry McElhone can get bonus points for being one of the first people to write down the recipe in his book Harry’s ABCs of Mixing Cocktails in 1923.
The Grand Side Car cocktail recipe
- 1 ¾ oz Grand Marnier Cordon Rouge
- ¾ oz Cognac
- ¾ oz freshly squeezed lemon juice
- Sugar and orange zest for the rim
- Shake all ingredients with ice for about 30 seconds
- Fine strain into sugar and orange rimmed coupe glasses
- Serve immediately
2. The Camparino: Milan
Next stop on our tour of the world’s best cocktail bars is on the other side of the Alps in Italy. The Camparino bar opened in 1915 in Milan. It’s here where the story of the world-famous Italian aperitivo begins—along with the Campari Soda. This low alcohol cocktail is made with seltzer specifically. Seltzer is made from pure water, charged with carbonic acid under high pressure and is kept in a specific bottle, called a siphon.
Campari Soda recipe:
- 2 oz Campari
- 6 oz seltzer or sparkling water
- Orange slice to garnish
- Add ice to a highball glass
- Pour in the Campari and top it up with seltzer
- Garnish with fresh slice of orange
3. The Dry Martini in Barcelona
We’re going further south to rediscover the Dry Martini, a worthy descendant of the Martinez cocktail. The recipe was originally published in 1904 in the French book American-Bar Recipes English and American Drinks. But it wasn’t until 30 years ago, at the opening of one of Barcelona’s best cocktail bars, The Dry Martini, that this cocktail became legendary. Why? During their opening, there wasn’t a cocktail menu. This new bar only served Dry Martinis during its debut, and they were a hit.
James Bond also took the popularity of the Dry Martini to new heights, but here’s some inside info. His was the vodka kind, and any bartender worth their salt will tell you that the authentic recipe calls for gin. It remains one of the most popular cocktails to order at a bar, and here’s a fail-proof recipe for one of the best. If you want more martini inspiration, read our article on 14 types of Martinis you can make at home.
Recipe for a Dry Martini
- 2 oz Gin
- ½ oz Cinzano Vermouth Dry
- 1 green olive
- Pour gin and vermouth in an ice filled mixing glass
- Stir until cold
- Strain into a chilled martini glass
- Garnish with one green olive
4. Pat O’Brien’s Bar in New Orleans
Pat O’Brien is the bar owner and aptly named it after himself. It opened in New Orleans in 1933 and is located in the French Quarter. Pat O’Brien’s is most famous for creating the Hurricane Cocktail, and in our books, that makes it one of the best cocktail bars to visit! The recipe was invented during prohibition and was created to get rid of surplus rum. Patrons couldn’t simply walk through the door but had to say the password “Storm’s Brewin’ to access the bar. We love it!
The Hurricane cocktail recipe:
- 1 ½ oz Appleton Estate Signature Blend
- ¾ oz overproof white rum
- ¾ oz pineapple juice
- ½ oz freshly squeezed lime juice
- ¼ oz lime cordial
- ¼ oz simple syrup
- ¼ oz passion fruit syrup
- Fresh orange wheel to garnish
- Add ice to a cocktail shaker
- Pour in the rum, lime and pineapple juice, lime cordial, simple and passion fruit syrup into a cocktail shaker
- Shake until chilled (around 30 seconds)
- Strain into a hurricane glass over ice
- Garnish with sliced orange
5. Termini in London
Our next destination is London and its trendy district of Soho. If you’re a Negroni lover, head to Termini for one of the best. Other versions include more exotic flavors like pink peppercorn seeds. When serving this iconic Italian cocktail, Termini swops out the traditional Old Fashioned glass for more elegantly stemmed glassware, filling it to the brim! There’s no doubt about it. So, if you ever find yourself in Soho, you’ve got to head over to Termini for one of its most popular cocktails to order at a bar.
Campari Negroni recipe:
- 1 oz Campari
- 1 oz Bulldog Gin
- 1 oz red vermouth
- Orange peel to garnish
- Add the liquids to an ice filled mixing glass
- Stir until chilled
- Strain into an ice filled cocktail glass
- Garnish with orange peel
6. The Pegu Club in Burma
Sadly, our tour of best cocktail bars is coming to an end. Our last leg takes us to Asia. If you ever find yourself in Burma, go to The Pegu Club to order their famous cocktail of the same name. The Pegu Club was a Victorian-style gentleman’s club founded back in 1871 during the time of British colonization. It was here that British officers of the Raj in charge of the administration of Burma went to quench their thirst. One of the most refreshing and sophisticated cocktails to order at a bar! The best part? You don’t have to travel to Burma to enjoy one.
The Pegu Club recipe
- 1 ½ oz Bulldog Gin
- ¾ oz Grand Marnier
- ¼ freshly squeezed lemon juice
- 1 dash orange bitters
- 1 dash Angostura bitters
- Lime wedge to garnish
- Add all the liquids to an ice filled cocktail shaker
- Shake for around 30 seconds or until properly chilled
- Strain into a chilled coupe glass
- Garnish with wedge of lime