16 Bartenders Pick the Most Overrated Cocktails in Existence

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In a thoroughly unscientific survey, we asked 16 bartenders for their picks for the most overrated cocktails. So which drinks should be kicked off the island? Is your favorite on the list?

Chris Elford (Navy Strength, No Anchor; Seattle)

“I think cocktails that involve highly scientific elements can be overrated because they very often utilize methods at the expense of flavor. I see this happening all over the country. Make sure your drinks taste great, bartenders!”

Old Fashioned

Amanda Elder (Pouring Ribbons, New York City)

“I hear people say all the time, ‘Old Fashioneds are the new Vodka Soda,’ meaning it’s a knee-jerk order if you don’t know what to drink. I’m also tired of explaining drinks as ‘an Old Fashioned variation.’ But I also want to say, ‘Don’t underestimate the Old Fashioned. We can make a great one. Don’t count out a classic.’”

Keli Rivers (Whitechapel, San Francisco)

“Any cocktail with spices in it, like chile pepper—it’s one-note and single-dimension and an unfortunate trend idea. Why do you want to do that? It’s all you taste.”

Moscow Mule

Jason Asher (Counter Intuitive, Scottsdale, Ariz.)

“As much as I love a Moscow Mule, I think it’s a bit overrated. It serves as a good jumping-off point for many bartenders, and, well, let’s be honest, it bridges the gap for the novice consumer. With that being said, I think it has become the go-to  drink for the masses and truly is no different from a Rum & Coke or any something-and-something for that matter. It’s time to move on and try something new!”

Abigail Gullo (Compère Lapin, New Orleans)

“I can’t think of any overrated cocktails. They all have a place, a time, a reason. They can be magic in the right hands, crafted with thought and care. I think what is maybe overrated is taking a twist on a classic and saying it’s brand new.”

Long Island Iced Tea

Franky Marshall (Le Boudoir, New York City)

“The Long Island Iced Tea. Why would you want all of that stuff in your glass, plus Coke? Most people who order that drink are on a mission and want you to ‘make it strong!’ but if you really want to get your drink on (responsibly), why not just have a shot of high-proof whiskey and go from there?”

Julio Cabrera (The Regent Cocktail Club, Miami)

“The Moscow Mule and Old Fashioned. People order them a lot. Sometimes they don’t know what is in it and what it’s made from. I think there are a lot of better cocktails that people don’t order.”

Piña Colada

Jeff Berry (Latitude 29, New Orleans)

“The Piña Colada. It was justly reviled all through the ’80s, ’90s and early aughts. I guess there’s a reverse snobbery where it’s being embraced even though it was this horrible disco drink. It’s horribly unbalanced; it’s very sweet. It works really well as a pineapple coconut milkshake, but as an alcoholic beverage, it’s a complete failure.”

Soraya Odishoo (Nix, New York City)

“Calling for expensive top-shelf spirits like Grey Goose in your cocktail. If someone orders a Grey Goose & Tonic and I put in Tito’s, they wouldn’t know the difference. That’s not about high-quality spirits; it’s about the brand name, and we’re past that. People are still relying on these bigger brand names, and they shouldn’t. That’s what’s overrated.”

Beth Dixon (Pasture, Richmond)

“I think shots of Fernet-Branca are terrible. To be clear, it has a place in cocktails at our bar, just like Listerine has a place in my dental care routine, but I don’t take shots of it! Usually bitters make my stomach settle, but the feeling of syrupy, minty, black licorice sliding down the back of my throat usually leaves me more queasy than settled.”

Andrew Friedman (Good Citizen, Liberty; Seattle)

“Most cocktails with sherry. Lately, the peer-pressured chorus and has been, ‘Sherry! Sherry! Sherry!’ Let’s be honest, only people that like sherry like sherry. Sherry, as well-crafted as it may be, holds sway on only certain palates, like amari or malört before that, but that particular taste alienates many from their drink.”

Manhattan

Pamela Wiznitzer (Seamstress, New York City)

“I think the Manhattan is really overrated. Hear me out: In 2007 and 2008, it was my go-to drink in bars and often what I sipped during first dates. I imbibed them all the time. However, after learning about so many other complex and interesting drinks that derive from the Manhattan, such as La Louisiane, the Vieux Carré and the Tipperary, I don’t understand how people can just stand the basic vermouth, rye and bitters pairing. Yes, there’s something to say for two-ingredient cocktails, but the best drinks invented usually use at least three, because it allows for more complex layering of flavors. I find the Manhattan just falls flat in comparison. A Perfect Manhattan, I can get behind that preparation. But the classic doesn’t do it for me.”

Andrew Olsen (Bluestem, Kansas City, Mo.)

“Old Fashioneds. Everybody knows the drink, and it rolls off the tongue. Sometimes people don’t know the difference between a good one and a bad one.”

Mojito

Bob Peters (The Punch Room, The Ritz-Carlton, Charlotte, N.C.)

“The Mojito. They are fine if they aren’t made too sweet and it’s hot outside. I’ll give you that. However, try something different! You can never have a new favorite drink if you’re always drinking Mojitos! It has become the light beer of the cocktail world, and it’s time for you to let go of your minty lime security blanket and explore what’s outside of your box. Take note, Dirty Martini drinkers: You’re next on the list. Don’t make me call you out; you know who you are.”

Morgan Schick (The Bon Vivants, Trick Dog; San Francisco)

“I don’t believe there’s an overrated drink. I always bristle at those kinds of questions. The right drink is the drink that the guest wants to drink.”

Jungle Bird

Garret Richard (The Happiest Hour, Slowly Shirley; New York City)

“Black strap Jungle Bird. To me, this drink serves as an example of media hysteria and bartenders’ wasted potential. It’s a fine variation on a classic, but many people fail to know that it is simply that—a variation. The original featured dark Jamaican rum, most likely an extinct brand like Wray and Nephew’s Dagger or Appleton Punch, yet people take the black strap version as gospel or mistake it for the original recipe. Will I turn down a black strap Jungle Bird? No. Would I like people to move beyond it? Hell, yes.”

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Discussion (43)

  • raiderfan08070yahoocom19481656 posted 4 months ago

    People should drink what they like..who cares about trends or what other people think they should drink...people have varying tastes and opions..me myself I always liked premium liquors and German beer...my father who was a very successful man..seemed to favor cheap liquor and black label beer (yuck)...That's what he liked..he would come over my house..he could drink whatever he wanted and he would ALWAYS pick what he liked..Canadian Mist or some cheap vodka..that's what he liked..and my brother is a mixologist...I didn't get it,but he did and respect that...so who is to say if it's over or under rated...

  • lucas23earthlinknet1184384693 posted 4 months ago

    Talking about a drink like a Manhattan or a mojito is like talking about a grilled cheese sandwich- there's American cheese on wonder bread fried in margarine or nice pain au levain with compté- not even the same sandwich (though I know some people like the wonder bread version best). Well prepared with good ingredients, that's what it's all about. I'd prefer a different topic, like ingredients bartenders shouldn't use. OK I'll start, thanks for asking! Cinnamon instead of bitters on a pisco sour, any green or blue liqueur, and of course those day-glow pretend cherries!

  • Manly2017 posted 4 months ago

    If you think you don't like a Manhattan, you just haven't had the right one. My favorite drink is the "Madhattan" from Virgil's At Cimmiyotti's in Pendleton, Oregon. Yes, this manhattan is the most delicious drink ever!

  • USStrongman posted 4 months ago

    Bartenders should be educators, not whiny piss-ants. People like what they like... so why not educate them with a riff on something classic? It is what has allowed the Microbrew industry to flourish over Anheuser, Miller, Coors and the alike. Educating and involving people, not judging them based on your standards.

  • RedTiger posted 4 months ago

    Respectfully, if I ask for an expensive spirit in my cocktail, it is because I don't want your cheap well garbage. While I am happy to entertain a change--for example if you don't carry X and want to use Y.... that is one thing, but don't tell me that there is no difference in taste in my vodka/soda or vodka/tonic when you use cheap spirits. If you believe that, then you are a crappy bartender and don't know what you're doing. THIS, right here, is why people stiff bartenders on tips.

  • clay5477@gmail.com posted 5 months ago

    So, now customers aren't allowed to like what they like? As delicately and respectfully as I can put it, this article reads like Slate hipster trash.

    It's both condescending and arrogant.

    And, for the record, I love Manhattans. And Mojitos.

  • normlavigne.52186 posted 6 months ago

    As a bartender I would have to say how can you call any drink overrated it's all in what you enjoy,not what some pompous know it all says you should like.

  • deanageryahoocom1421129468 posted 6 months ago

    First off it's really sad to read those overinflated ego driven statements from bartenders all over the country. You guys are working! the job of bartender. While it is wonderful that you look at your work as a craft you must remember and fully internalize that you are working in the service industry. That means that you provide a service and people come and pay you for it. The number of people all over this planet who are impressed by being treated with your arrogance and being treated to your judgement and condescending attitude is zero!
    If I order a specific drink you might suggest either a variation or a different type of drink altogether but don't dismiss my order and for sure don't use Tito's instead of Grey Goose. Remind me to never go back to Nix.
    Very disturbing the attitude shining through in most of these opinions and thank you Morgan Schick.
    I go to a bar to relax. If I want attitude I go to the DMV

  • Kevin1962 posted 8 months ago

    Opinions are like bums, yada yada. I think only Morgan Schick has the correct answer.

  • mbrown52.eefe4 posted 9 months ago

    Having been a bartender myself, as well as having hired bartenders when I managed a restaurant, I believe the best comment was that of Morgan Schick: “I don’t believe there’s an overrated drink. I always bristle at those kinds of questions. The right drink is the drink that the guest wants to drink.” I also believe that looking down one's nose at a paying customer (regardless of what one's unwarranted opinion is concerning his/her sophistication) is NOT a good habit to get into (or for those grammatical purist who prefer to avoid ending a sentence with a preposition), in which to get.


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