My Top Ten Favorite Drinks

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Stephen Beaumont once referred to my “borderline obsessive list-making“, and although this post certainly won’t help my reputation in that area, I’ve wanted to do it for a while now, and I think it will be good times for all. Now, people ask me all the time what my favorite drink is, but it’s hard for me to commit settle on just one. So here are, in some sort of order, my ten favorite drinks of all time.

10. Water.
picture-2_100x93shkl.jpgWhen I’m not treating myself to a cocktail, I’m drinking water. It is the single-most important ingredient in every single one of the following beverages, and its absence or misuse can make or break an otherwise fine cocktail.

9. The Martini.
picture-5_100x99shkl.jpgI’ve had more than my share, and it’s damn-near impossible to get a good one unless you make it yourself, but the Martini will forever remain close to my heart.

I take mine with half Vya dry vermouth, half Boodles gin, stirred until Arctic cold and garnished with a large, thick lemon twist. I’m drooling just thinking about it.

8. The Negroni. Bitter is my bag, baby, and the Negroni’s got it in spades. Gin? Check. Campari? Check. Sweet Vermouth and a nice orange peel garnish? Cha-ching.

As an aside, I think the Negroni is the one clear drink that can stand up to a shake, rather than a stir. Just let the drink settle in the shaker before you pour it.

7. Egg Nog. When I was a kid, I would beg my mother to get the big container of egg nog, and for some reason she’d aquiesce (I think she likes it as much as I do). But then when we got home, she’d spend the next three days trying to keep me out of it.

Although I can’t stomach the grocery store variety any longer, when I put together this light, fresh, mildly-boozy version, I was hooked all over again.

6. The Richmond Gimlet. I can’t have a list of my favorite drinks without including my most famous creation, can I? The truth is, after all these years together, I still love sharing a warm summer evening with my baby, the Richmond Gimlet.

5. Gin and Tonic. What other drink says “Hey, it’s June!”to you more than a crisp, cool, refreshing G&T? Just keep the sweet stuff away from me. I’ll take mine with Q, Stirrings, Fever Tree, or better yet, my housemade cinnamon-cardamom quinine syrup and soda.

4. The Manhattan.
picture-6_100x101shkl.jpgA college roommate of mine taught me about these, well before I ever even set foot behind a real bar. We’d always start the night off with a couple of these, only to regret the last one the next day.

Tough, grizzled, and surly as hell after the third round, she still always managed to remain a lady. Just like her drink.

3. The Sidecar. It’s a little sweet, it’s a little tart, and it’s real strong. It’s the grandfather of half the drinks you consume, from the Margarita to a Cosmopolitan.

And it’s got a lot of brandy in it, which always spells Goodnight Nurse for yours truly.

2. Beer and a Shot. I don’t drink that much during the week, but I usually belly up to the bar after working a busy weekend night. And while I’m certainly in need of a stiff drink to calm my nerves, I also need a cool quaff after running around a sweaty mess all night.

And when I say sweaty mess, I’m referring to the other bartender.

Enter the beer and a shot. Half of it is cool, light, and refreshing, and the other half smells like Jim Beam. Kinda like your parents.

1. Champagne.
picture-7_100x101shkl.jpgChampagne is the perfect alcoholic beverage. It has built-in bubbles, so it doesn’t require any special equipment. It’s nice and dry, so you can be sure to avoid the extra-strength headache you’re going to get from sweet drinks. And the buzz you’ll get from Champagne is light and refreshing.

But here’s the thing I love the most about bubbly: It’s socially acceptable to consume at any time of day. Really, here’s proof: Have you ever thought twice when you were offered a Mimosa at seven in the morning? How about a Wild Turkey and Coke?

See what I mean about social acceptance?

I’d like to hear what your favorites are, so post them on your site or leave them in the comments below!

35 Replies to “My Top Ten Favorite Drinks”

  • Sean says:

    And you are now officially my new favorite drinking buddy. The only variances I have from your list are a general tepidity toward gin (so, I’ll take a voddy tonny), room for the occasional sniff of grappa after a hearty Italian meal, and I often prefer my water sparkling. Otherwise, manhattan, check; negroni, check; a proper martini, checkaroonie.

  • your sista says:

    Didn’t mom also put cough syrup in the egg nog, too?

  • Jason! says:

    In no particular order: Negroni, Ginger Ale and Rye, Old Fashioned, Manhattan, Scotch, Gin and Tonic, Ginger Ale, Stout, Red Wine, and Margarita. I did take the trouble of typing up some reasons (or maybe just more words), though.

  • Steve says:

    My all-time favorites include gin & tonic and the Manhattan as well. If I ever try a Richmond Gimlet, I’m sure that will be up there, too.

    My other favorites are rye & ginger ale, the Mojito (if made properly), and black rum on the rocks. All winners in my book.

  • Nebuchadnezzar says:

    Maker’s Mark and Ginger Ale, in a tall glass or a tumbler. Or a manhattan, but too presumptuous to make at home. When I’m at a bar and feel like a martini, Grey Goose, up, with a lime. No Vermouth. Now I have to have a drink.

  • Hey Jeffery, I am a big fan of your blog and really enjoy your stuff. I wrote a top ten cocktails of all time list a while back on my blog (http://explorethepour.blogspot.com) that kind of ranked the legacies of cocktails. This is the list
    1. The Martini
    2. The Sazerac
    3. The Margarita
    4. The Manhattan
    5. The Mai Tai
    6. The Sidecar
    7. The Gin & Tonic
    8. The Old Fashioned
    9. The Cosmopolitan
    10. The Bloody Mary
    I will leave the arguments to the blog but figured I would post this as pretty relevant. Now as far as my favorites go, some of those would be on and some would be off, but I think some additions would include a great port, the negroni, and some steroided IPA. Anyway, grea blog – keep up the good work!

  • Jeffrey says:

    Hey Everyone! Great work on this, I’d like to see more!

    I love all of your contributions and have always enjoyed y’all’s writing. Keep it up!

  • Kudos on including the Negroni, Jeffrey, which IMHO is perhaps the ultimate cocktail. I’d throw the Sazarac in there, too, but that’s perhaps quibbling.

    A dart for failing to identify your beer style in the “Beer and a Shot,” though. Half is “cool, light and refreshing”? Not if it’s a barleywine, my friend, or Imperial stout or doppelbock or, well, you get the point.

    Thing is, I’ve always found that pilsner and a shot (presumably of something whisky/whiskey like) just don’t work together. Pale ale or IPA is better, but still not as good as a best bitter or ESB. And for great harmony, try a brown ale, chilled but not iced to death, or an abbey-style dubbel.

    And don’t you dare accuse me of over complicating matters, Mr. “better yet, my housemade cinnamon-cardamom quinine syrup and soda”!

  • Gabriel says:

    I’ll post on this eventually in more detail, but in no particular order:

    – Diet Coke (shutup, I can’t help it)
    – Corpse Reviver #2
    – The Last Word
    – Champagne
    – Tom Collins (an underrated drink in my opiniom)
    – Mojito (at least when I make them)
    – Gimlet (I’m most definitely trying the Richmond soon, Jeffrey)
    – Martini (I use a 3:1 ratio)
    – Martinez
    – Espresso/coffee

    I’m still doing a lot of exploration but these are ones I always come back to. There was a period, a long period, where I drank Champagne almost exclusively. And that, my friend, is a very expensive and untenable habit. But man is it among the things I’m thankful for every day.

  • Matt says:

    1. Beer – king of alcohol.

    2. Bourbon – neat (Knob Creek is my go-to).

    3. Old fashioned – and not that orange and cherry muddled abomination you get at most bars, either. 2oz rye, a tsp of simple syrup, two dashes of orange bitters, stirred with ice and garnished with a cherry.

    4. Martini – four to one Vya and Plymouth, two dashes of orange bitters, served with a twist.

    5. Mai Tai – I make mine kind of like you would a daiquiri (2oz rum, 1oz syrup, 1oz lime), but replace the syrup with a half ounce each of curacao and orgeat.

    6. Gin and tonic. Nothing more refreshing on a muggy DC summer day.

  • Jeffrey says:

    Mr. Beaumont, you’re absolutely correct. The beer I usually drink at my neighborhood pub is a bitter called Nebraska Bitter. It’s by McMenamin’s, a big Oregon brewpub company. From their website:

    This golden bitter uses fresh Cascade hops in modest amounts to create a more subtle hop flavor and bitterness than its big brother, Hammerhead. Nebraska Bitter was first brewed at the Fulton Pub & Brewery, located in Southwest Portland. This crisp and flavorful ale has become a standard attraction at McMenamin’s taps everywhere.

    Malts: Pale Malt; 40L Crystal Malt
    Hops: Cascade
    Original Gravity: 1.044
    Terminal Gravity: 1.008
    Alcohol by Weight: 3.6%
    Calories/pint: 187

    As for the shot? It’s usually bourbon, but (and I’m surprised Sean Bigley didn’t call me out on this) quite often it’s good old Fernet Branca.

  • Wendy says:

    No one has as of yet mentioned my favorite drug of choice…sake.
    Served cold, nothing can beat a Daiginjo after a long shift. The flavor is lite, and refreshing and the buzz is one of complete peace with the universe. (Much needed after wanting to shake the shit out of your kitchen, and as well as a few regulars).

    Which leads me to my next choice Jager, yes there is a time and place for it. You just have to find yours… possibly prior to a Tool concert, or Christmas night at a Chinese restaurant. Don’t just shoot it, taste it, and you’ll find the bitters that you seek. If I want alot of the same flavors without the stigma or sweetness, Freinet Branca is amazing, but hard to find.

    In the realm of refreshing-summers-on- the-patio-drinks. Pimms Cup with a cucumber slice, (crush the ice of course)

    Ouzo (pair it with dolmas, mmmmmm)

    Thanks Jeff for including the Negroni. I can always tell when someone orders this that they are either a foodie or another bartender. Your Negroni is still the best in town…I bow to you.
    As well as the sweaty mess that you work with. (Someone has to be the MaryAnn to your Ginger).

  • Jamie says:

    Ha ha hah! Just like my parents! That was funny!

  • Fernet Branca? What could you mean by that? I only let you slide on that one because my internet has been down for the last 24 hours.

    Here are a few of my favorites:

    Negroni
    Gin Martini,3:1
    Cucumber Gimlet
    Calvados Sidecar
    Knob Creek, couple of cubes
    Clermont Kiss, one of my creations
    Blood and Sand, Charlotte Voisey just
    made a great one for
    me on Monday.
    El Tesoro Paradiso, with Julio of
    course.

    OK, I guess the list could just go on and on.

    As professionals in our field, let’s agree to disagree. I’ll take my Martinis shaken and my Negronis stirred.

    Great column!

    Cheers to you my friend!

  • The Liquor Boy says:

    Much like my sweaty self,It is the sign
    of a hard working bartender to sweat.
    But then again, somone has to make up
    for your ‘CREATIVE EXPERTISE’, Ginger!

    Love, T G IPA,Woodford Reserve, My
    Bloody mary(Still the Best In Town)
    Sparkling Wines, Meads, Hennessey Ricard, Sidecars as well, and 007 martini’s as only you can make them for me, shaken with two onions and an olive…… I still say, We could rock
    Las Vegas next time!!!!!!!!! HOOTERS
    HOT WINGS ARE THE BOMB. Your luving
    friend………………….

  • Dan says:

    In no particular order…

    Beer
    Red Wine
    Chelsea Sidecar
    Richmond Gimlet
    Manhattan
    Bourbon (neat)
    Tom Collins
    Whiskey Sour
    Cuba Libre
    Mint Julep

  • Jeffrey says:

    Looks like Vegas is in the house. I loved Sean’s calvados Sidecar, amazing after a raft of tapas at Firefly and a cachaça tasting.

    As for Liquor Boy, I’ll deal with you later….

    Jeff

  • Chuck P. says:

    In elegant simplicity and in no particular order…

    * Coffee – Except from Starbucks

    * Whisky Sour

    * Bourbon (Makers Mark or Woodford)

    * Gin + Tonic

    * Beer, Being from the Cornhusker state, I will have to try the Nebraska Bitter.

    * Water

    That’s about it. I suppose I would have more if it weren’t for my penchant for dive bars with crappy bartenders. I have had Old Fashoned, Manhattans, and Side Cars, but all have been abomonations. I suspect this is more a product of the creator than the intended creation.

    As a side note my favorite drink order is “I’ll have two shots of your crappiest whiskey!” Man, that was a bad night…

  • Scooter says:

    Perhaps…just perhaps…the “other” bartender is a sweaty mess from the stress of having to constantly employ his Jungle Cat Reflexes to avoid being steamrolled. And therefore is entitled to an ocassional Coors Light, sans ball breaking.

  • DougP says:

    In alphabetical order …

    Beer (everything from PBR to Guinness)
    Coffee
    Frisco Sour (yum, Benedictine)
    Green Ghost (yum, Chartreuse)
    Jack Rose
    Last Word
    Mai Tai
    Manhattan
    Negroni (I love Campari)
    Old Pal (did I mention that I love Campari?)

    … but it might be a different list next week …

  • Darryl says:

    Definitely agree with you on the Sidecar – it’s a classic that I find also has appeal for more modern palates, especially those weaned on Cosmopolitans and strawberry Daiquiris.

    And on that note, my personal top 5 (at the moment, and given my relatively small cocktail repertoire):

    1. Margarita – Of all the cocktails I make at home, this one satisfies the most often.

    2. Mojito – When made properly, the most refreshing drink on the planet.

    3. Sidecar – For the same reasons you mentioned: tart, sweet, yet nice and strong. A great flavor combination.

    4. Daiquiri – The original, Hemingway-approved version. Much more than the sum of its parts.

    5. Pina Colada – Okay, I have a sweet tooth. But pineapple and coconut really do make great bedfellows.

    When I’m not in the mood for those, a cold beer, tall glass of ice water, or a shot of neat scotch will do. And in the colder months, replace all of those drinks with anything involving Jack Daniel’s.

  • Kat says:

    My favorites anytime inlude a good glass of merlot and a well made martini. For summer I also have a tendency for mojitos and of course lucky leprechans, both cool and refreshing on a hot summer day. And I can’t forget the goold ole standbys: water (I am obsessed), coffee and beer.

  • Don’t sweat the sweet tooth, I have a great love for Piña Coladas. I carve out a couple of pineapples once a summer and serve them in the shells!

  • Sean Boudreau says:

    Okay, great idea on the list! However, my list will strictly be liquor related because beer and wine deserve a whole list to themselves.. So here are my favorite bar drinks…

    10. Spanish Coffee
    9. Gin Fizz
    8. Tom Collins (Hendricks)
    7. Gin & Tonic
    6. Makers & Coke
    5. Negroni
    4. Extra Dry Martini
    3. Whisk(e)y Sour
    2. Sidecar
    1. Margarita (OVER ICE, NEVER FROZEN!)

    That was a tough list! So many favorites, but of course I get plenty of juice and water (w/o alcohol).. Next time I’ll list wine and beer..

    Cheers and Happy 4th!

  • Wonderful, wonderful list. Best, most interesting top 10 drink list I’ve seen.

    Hey, you coming to DC for Repeal Day or what?

  • Jeffrey says:

    It’s a lot tougher than it looks, isn’t it?

    Thanks, guys, and happy 4th.

    Lonnie, I’m working on it, I’m working on it!

  • Noah says:

    Okay I guess it’s my turn…

    1-Labatt Blue Dry
    2-Libertine
    3-Jack and Coke
    4-Red table wine
    5-Flamming Dr.Pepper
    6-Rye and Seven
    7-Drambuie-Soda
    8-Mojito
    9-Long Island
    10-Mailbu-Sprite

  • Eric says:

    Stumbled upon this page by chance, and I like the looks of lots of these lists — and the Richmond Gimlet.

    Thought I might as well chime in with ten favorites of my own, in no particular order:

    – Drambuie and warm milk, on any given winter night
    – Myers’s rum daiquiri, made with Key limes, and NEVER frozen
    – Cinnamon Manhattan, on the rocks with Knob Creek, fortified with Goldschläger and a dash of cherry syrup
    – Tomato martini, with Ketel One, the freshest tomatoes you can find, a pinch of onion, dry vermouth, and black pepper
    – Fresh peach & Chambord margarita, with Don Julio blanco tequila
    – Hennessy sidecar, with Cointreau and Meyer lemon
    – Chipotle-raspberry Bloody Mary, with Stoli Rasberi
    – Mint julep, preferably with Knob Creek
    – Fresh jalapeño Don Julio blanco tequila martini, with a lime twist

  • Lux says:

    Gotta offer my 2 cents…

    1. Cheap Spanish Red Table Wine
    2. Cheap French Pinot Noir
    3. Navy Black Strap Rum & Diet Coke
    4. Jet Pilot
    5. Titos or V6 and fresh squeezed OJ
    6. Mai Tai
    7. Malibu, coconut and Pineapple
    8. Pina Colada with a Meyers floater
    9. Bloody Mary with Hot Pickled Ocra
    10.White Russian

  • Garretto says:

    Man, were spirit mates!
    Couple diffs, no order.
    10. Martini-Gin,Twist,or Anchovy Olives.
    9. Negroni, rocks with Orang twist
    8. Sidecare, Jerez Brandy
    7. Bourbon Renewal –just like Jeff created it.
    6. Manhattan, bourbon, twist
    5. Beer and Beam
    4. Tequila, 100% Agave, all ages.
    3. Glenlivet 12yr, simple go -to
    2. Anjeo Highball, per Degroff
    1. Rum Coke…per Jeff’s recipe.

  • Ryan says:

    No order for me:

    10. Duvel
    9. Kwak
    8. Isle of Jura
    7. Ginger Beer
    6. Ginger Juice (honey+lemon, no apple juice!)
    5. Chocolate Silk
    4. Vodka Martini, only one olive.
    3. Long Island
    2. Kentucky Coffee
    1. Peets latte

    I haven’t been fortunate enough to find any great mixed drinks at bars as I’ve probably not found the right bars. Perhaps I’ll find some new favorites in trying your recipes at home..

  • 1. Walker Fifty (Johnnie Walker Black and Labbatt 50

    2.Godfather 1oz Amaretto,1.5oz Scotch
    2 oz of fresh orange juice creates a BOOMER.

    3.Caesar not one of those fake American Caesar’s. Sorry guys and dolls but Canada has you beat on the Bloody Caesar.

    4.Old Fashioned

    5.Port

    6.Negroni

  • Michael says:

    Coffee – specifically Santa’s White Christmas
    Daiquiri No. 3
    Manhattan
    Gimlet
    Margarita
    Irish Martini
    Emerald
    Beer – Dark in the winter and light in the summer
    Water
    Maccallen 17 year old Scotch on the rocks

  • Eric says:

    1. miller high life and a shot of rye
    2. martini
    3. old fashioned
    4. water
    5. manhattan
    6. black coffee
    7. negroni
    8. margarita
    9. paper plane
    10. canada dry ginger ale

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