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Talk to the Bartender Underrated Cocktails
Image: Shutterstock / Time Out

17 wildly underrated cocktails, according to bartenders

You don't know what you've been missing until you try these pro picks

Morgan Olsen
Written by
Morgan Olsen

We've all got our go-to cocktail order – whether you're the Old Fashioned type, a G&T devotee or a Margarita maven. But there's nothing like falling in love with a new favorite. If you're ready to shake things up, why not start with the most underrated cocktails out there?

To find the best of the best, we enlisted the help of some of the world's top bartenders. They're sharing their favorite underrated cocktails – the drinks they wish people ordered more often. Want a bubbly bevvy that'll make you feel fancy? Try a French 75. Craving something tropical? Spring for a Jungle Bird. Looking for something light, bright and low-ABV? Ask for an Americano.

Take a look at the most underrated cocktails out there – then, head straight to your nearest bar and flex a new-to-you drink order.

Some quotes have been edited for brevity and clarity.

Thirsty for more insider insight from the world’s best bartenders? You’re in the right place. Running throughout August 2021, Talk to the Bartender! is a weekly series that taps into the minds of drink pros around the globe. The conversation changes often, and we'll chat with bartenders about everything from underrated cocktails and must-have bottles to top drinking cities.

Underrated cocktails you have to try

1. Americano

‘The Negroni has gone totally meta over the past decade, but the Americano is a less boozy version that removes the gin in favor of soda. It’s a full-flavor, low-alcohol drink that you could order anywhere.’—Ali Burgess, owner of Happiness Forgets and Ever After in London

‘Those long summers of Aperol Spritzes are behind us – let’s all agree to treat our taste buds like grownups and collectively get back onboard the Americano express. Simple, effervescent, enlivening, perfect when you don't know what the fuck you wanna drink, the Americano never fails.’—Jemima McDonald, bartender at Earl's Juke Joint and The Grifter Brewing Co. in Sydney

2. Painkiller

‘It could be really popular, as it tastes similar to a Piña Colada – just more complex, full-bodied and flavourful. The orange juice and specific use of Pusser's rum make it really tasty.’—Kyritsis Vasilis, co-owner of The Clumsies in Athens


3. Daiquiri

‘When most people hear the word “daiquiri,” they think of a frozen, sweet pink drink you sip on South Beach. But what most people don’t know is that the classic daiquiri is actually just three ingredients: rum, lime, and sugar. Have a classic daiquiri and you’ll never want the frozen version again!’—Camille Wilson, founder of The Cocktail Snob

4. ... and the Hemingway Daiquiri

‘This drink has the power to transport you to your own version of paradise. Crisp, refreshing and citrusy – oh, and certainly sophisticated – the Hemingway Daiquiri is a true delight that doesn’t disappoint.’Ollie Hampton, beverage manager at the SLS Hotel Dubai


5. Mojito

‘I'm shocked that I still go to bars that do classic cocktails and refuse to do Mojitos. “serious mixologists” have tried to kill that cocktail for so long, but it’ll never die because it has great DNA. If the Mojito didn’t already exist and someone invented it today, they’d be regarded as a bartending genius that created a modern classic.’—Moe Aljaff, owner of Two Schmucks and Fat Schmuck in Barcelona

6. Classic Sour

‘It’s the single most versatile cocktail, and you can have hundreds of varieties of it with different base spirits of whiskey, gin, vodka and even arrack or sochu. You can even customise it by using different types of citrus to accompany the fresh lemon juice and experimenting with different sugars available. The options when creating this cocktail are almost limitless.’—Adrian Besa, bar manager at MO Bar in Singapore


7. Aviation

‘The Aviation has gin, maraschino liqueur, creme de violette and lemon juice – I love all of these spirits individually, and together, they are even better. I think people get nervous when they hear creme de violette because they think it's going to taste like they’re drinking flowers. After my guests taste the cocktail, they see that the floral note is subtle and the cocktail is perfectly balanced.’—Heidi Turzyn, mixologist at Contento in NYC

8. 20th Century

‘The 20th Century is a rarely ordered classic that I love. It has such an unusual combination of flavors that somehow works and always pleasantly surprises people: gin, lillet blanc, white chocolate liqueur and lemon. Delicious!’—Naren Young, beverage director at Sweet Liberty in Miami


9. Sidecar

‘Cognac – really brandy in general – is a sleeper workhorse of a spirit and one that gets overlooked in a lot of bar programs (for many reasons, general accessibility being one of them). But the Sidecar is a great reminder of how delicious and long-standing a category brandy is, and how a proper, three-ingredient drink is hard to beat.’—Marta Ess, bartender at Dear Friend in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia

10. Jungle Bird

‘This tiki revival cocktail balances sweet, strong, bitter and aromatics. I would drink this on a hot summer afternoon, at brunch, when ‘'m snowed in and want to pretend I’m on vacation – or any other time the opportunity presents itself.’—Matt Harding, beverage director at Time Out Market Boston


11. Paloma

‘It’s such an iconic drink that so many people get wrong – it’s either too salty or too sour or too bitter. It needs balance – like everything in life. It’s very easy to make and very easy to throw out of balance, too.’—Emilio Valencia, bar manager at CLAP in Dubai

12. Piña Colada

‘For a lot of people, it’s an overly sweet, cheesy drink. But when well-made with the right ingredients, it’s the most delicious drink in the world.’—Nico de Soto, owner-bartender at Mace in NYC

‘It doesn’t matter if I'm on a tropical beach or it’s the dead of winter – I will rarely say no to a creamy, frothy, rummy Piña Colada. Some folks may be hesitant because they're afraid of flashing back to nights in neon-clad '90s clubs (also underrated), but a well-made Piña Colada is escapism at its best.’Shannon Tebay, head bartender of American Bar in London


13. French 75

‘There are tons of ways to augment a Negroni, Margarita, Manhattan and Old Fashioned – but you know what no one ever changes? The French 75. Are you pouring a pét-nat by the glass? Great, throw out the $9 prosecco, reach for the saffron-infused gin tucked away in the corner because no one knows it's there, grab some honey syrup, shake, pour and yes – you, heard correctly – I’ll take the Branzino for two even though I’m by myself.’—Max Stampa-Brown, beverage director of Bandits in NYC

14. Hotel Nacional

‘The Hotel Nacional cocktail is a drink that best represents the escapism cocktails can provide. Made with fresh pineapple juice, lime juice, apricot liqueur and a particular rum you can find in duty free shops (although just about any light rum will do). Even on the harshest winter nights, the cocktail transports you to your favorite non-descript beach by the ocean.’—CJ Catalano, bar manager at Fairmont Century Plaza in Los Angeles


15. Long Island Iced Tea

‘The thing has a bad wrap and the imagery behind the person who orders these is fairly negative – but, in my opinion, it’s super bad-ass and can be completely underrated if you make it with quality products. If it’s well made, it can show off your skill level and expertise.’—Sabrina Medcalf, general manager of The Duke in Sydney

16. Martini

‘Though it is timeless, elegant and classic, most Martinis are made wrong with poor technique. There are many factors to keep in mind – like dilution, how wet or dry the drink should be and the quality of product. Only a well-trained and experienced bartender can pull this off.’—Aneesh Antony, bar manager at Time Out Market Dubai


17. Anything frozen

‘For me, it’s a category instead of a single cocktail. Frozen drinks, which have long been undervalued, have been reborn in recent months. Though they’re often frowned upon within the bar industry, they’re gaining acceptance and have a bright future.’—Giacomo Gianotti, head bartender and co-founder of Paradiso in Barcelona

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