Cocktail & Other Recipes By Spirit Other Cocktails

16 Bartenders Pick the Most Overrated Cocktails in Existence

In a thoroughly unscientific survey, we asked 16 bartenders from across the nation 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.”


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.”


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.”