The Margarita is a celebrated Mexican cocktail renowned for its refreshing taste and – if mixed well – its kick. Traditionally it’s made with tequila, lime juice, and Cointreau or triple sec and served in a salt-rimmed glass. Its origins are debated, with stories ranging from it being invented in 1938 by bartender Carlos “Danny” Herrera to its naming after socialite Margarita Sames. Who knows. The cocktail’s appeal lies in its balance of tangy lime, sweet orange liqueur, and the distinctive kick of tequila. Variations include the frozen Margarita and flavoured versions like strawberry or mango, making it a staple drink if your bar is planning a Mexican evening. Now there’s a thought.


The Mojito, hailing from Cuba, is a light and refreshing cocktail that captures the essence of the Caribbean. Made with white rum, sugar, lime juice, soda water, and mint leaves, its history traces back to the 16th century and the beginnings of transatlantic trade – with its dubious origins. The Mojito’s allure comes from the invigorating combination of mint and lime, complemented by the sweetness of sugar and the gentle bite of rum. It’s a popular choice for warm weather, offering a cooling, zesty experience. The mojito gained global popularity through Ernest Hemingway, who famously enjoyed it at La Bodeguita del Medio in Havana. Always hard to mention Havana without invoking the name and spirit of Papa Hemingway whose prodigious literary output was matched only by his legendary drinking.


A symbol of sophistication, the Martini is a classic cocktail known for its simplicity and elegance. Traditionally made with gin and dry vermouth (never mind the bottle with Martini written on it – that’s a pale imitation), garnished with an olive or a lemon twist. Sharp and sweet there is no better pre-dinner drink. The exact origin of the Martini is unclear but is believed to date back to the late 19th century. Its popularity surged in the 20th century, becoming synonymous with James Bond’s iconic “shaken, not stirred” preference. The Martini’s enduring appeal lies in its crisp, clean taste and the endless variations it inspires, such as the Vodka Martini and the Dirty Martini.

Old Fashioned

The Old Fashioned is a cornerstone of cocktail history, often regarded as the original cocktail. Consisting of bourbon or rye whiskey, sugar, bitters, and a twist of citrus rind, it dates back to the early 19th century. Its name reflects the simplicity and purity of the drink, embodying a return to traditional cocktail-making methods. The Old Fashioned has seen a resurgence in recent years, thanks in part to its portrayal in popular culture, such as the TV series “Mad Men.” Its robust flavour and timeless appeal make it a favourite among whisky enthusiasts wanting a good malt with an extra something.


The Negroni, an Italian classic, is a bold and bittersweet cocktail made with equal parts gin, Campari, and sweet vermouth. Garnished with an orange peel, it was invented in Florence in 1919 when Count Camillo Negroni requested a stronger version of his favourite cocktail – the Americano. The bartender replaced the soda water with gin (an interesting if slightly challenging choice) and the Negroni was born. Its popularity stems from the harmonising of bitter, sweet, and botanical flavours, making it a sophisticated choice for an aperitif. The Negroni has inspired many variations, including the Boulevardier and the Negroni Sbagliato. There’s one to test the bar staff knowledge. Sbagliato means bungled or confused in Italian – too many cocktails and we know how that feels.