Ah, the Big Apple. Famous for its skyscraping high rises, hot dogs, theaters, neon-lit streets, cheesecakes, diverse cultural heritage and — you guessed it — cocktails.
These classic New York cocktails encompass the city that never sleeps in origin or personality — or both. Because these drinks have unique stories, flavor profiles and histories all their own, sipping them maps out a mixologist’s journey through this one-of-a-kind city.
Discover how to mix some of the quintessential famous New York cocktails from the convenience of your own home, wherever that may be.
Classic New York Cocktails and Their Recipes
Ready for a NYC beverage-tasting tour-de-force? Craft any one of these signature New York cocktails to impress your friends and hone your mixologist skills, all without fighting traffic through the Lincoln Tunnel.
One of the most iconic classic cocktails in the world, the Manhattan’s origin story is as filled with competition as it is with bold flavors.
Legend tells that the Manhattan was originally brewed for a party at none other than the Manhattan Club, a high-end hotel and event hall in the heart of its namesake borough. A popular destination for celebrities, politicians and late-night partiers alike, the Manhattan Club formally added the drink to its menu by the early 1900s. The drink’s popularity has only grown since.
You’ll find Manhattans served in any bar around the globe, complete with plenty of regional flavors and flares.
- Directions: Combine 2 oz. of American rye whiskey with .5 oz. of sweet vermouth and 1-3 dashes of Angostura bitters in a chilled cocktail glass. Add 2-3 ice cubes, then stir. Garnish with a maraschino cherry or lemon peel twist.
Pro tip: Not a rye fan? Swap with bourbon for a silkier, less abrasively smokey finish.
No one can argue with the unrivaled elegance yet simplicity imbued in a classic martini. The drink of choice for legends like Ernest Hemingway and James Bond, martinis have received their fair share of pop-culture acclaim, solidifying the drink’s place as an iconic option unscathed by today’s ever-changing bar and beverage trends.
This gin- or vodka-forward cocktail lands on the list of New York mixed drinks with a bit of a contested origin story. Some accounts place the martini’s first mixing with miners during the Gold Rush, others in speakeasies sprinkled across the Northeast. Either way, this dry, sweet and stimulating cocktail is perfect as a solo nightcap or paired with a similarly elegant meal. We like ours with citrus-glazed seafood and a side of this summer pea risotto.
- Directions: In a shaker, combine 3 oz. gin with .5 oz. dry vermouth and 2-3 ice cubes. Stir or shake well, about 30 seconds. Pour into a martini glass and garnish with a lemon wedge or green olive. Note: Gin can be swapped for equal-parts vodka, if preferred.
Few places get more cosmopolitan than New York City. Why not toast to its big, bustling nature with a cocktail that bursts with just as much zip and snap as the neon-drenched town itself?
Popularized by The Odeon restaurant and bar in Tribeca in the late 80s, the Cosmo as we know it today is actually the most recent drink in an extended family line of mixers, all aimed at perfecting the citrus/spirit/flavor-modifier trio. The Odeon’s iteration introduced Cointreau to the fold, a sugary-orange liquor similar to Triple Sec that plays well with a wide range of spirits. The rest, as they say, is history.
- Directions: Combine 1.5 oz. of Absolut Citron (or similar citrus vodka) with 1 oz. of Triple Sec or Cointreau. Squeeze in the juice of half a lime. Stir in splashes of cranberry juice to taste. Pour into a cocktail glass and garnish with a lime wheel.
4. The Penicillin
Don’t let the medicinal name fool you. The Penicillin is as iconic to New York City as the Statue of Liberty herself.
Okay, maybe not that iconic. But like the harbor’s emblematic statue, there’s no debate over this New-York-themed cocktail’s origins. First mixed by acclaimed mixologist Sam Ross during his tenure at Milk and Honey (now Attaboy, near Little Italy), the Penicillin has quickly catapulted into a spiced, sweet concoction served at upscale bars all around the country.
With an eclectic mix of flavors cutting through a smoky Scotch base, the Penicillin hits nearly all palate notes before rounding out with its signature ginger zing.
- Directions: First, mash three large slices of fresh ginger with a muddler or the back of a spoon. Mash until the ginger is soft. Combine with 2 oz. blended malt Scotch whiskey with 1 oz. lemon juice (about one whole lemon) and .75 oz. honey syrup. Shake or stir well, about 25 seconds. Strain mixture twice through a mesh strainer, taking care to remove any lingering ginger chunks. Pour into a chilled glass, served over two ice cubes. Finally, add a splash of single malt Isley Scotch to the top. Garnish with fresh or candied ginger.
Pro tip: Take your Penicillins to the next level by muddling additional citrus fruit juices to the drink’s base mix, like grapefruit, blood orange or even yuzu.
5. Classic Old Fashioned
The classic old fashioned is a time-tested, archetype cocktail revered by many and hated by few. With a long catalog of flavor twists and adaptations — including many pioneered in New York City — it’s no surprise that it makes the classic NYC drink list.
Here, we’re keeping it old school, honoring the original old fashioned cocktail recipe endorsed by the International Bartenders Association (IBA) and lauded as one of its six basic drinks, constituting an entire competitive drink category at its annual World Cocktail Competition.
- Directions: Place one white sugar cube and two dashes of Angostura bitters at the bottom of an old fashioned glass. Muddle until well blended. Place two ice cubes into the glass, then pour over 2 oz. of bourbon or rye whiskey. Squeeze in the juice from one orange slice, then stir until the sugar-bitter mixture has fully dissolved. Garnish with an orange peel.
Pro tip: Most old fashioned cocktails are enhanced with added muddled oranges or cherries and sometimes brown sugar cubes. The fresh fruits soften the whiskey’s bite without masking the spirit’s cardinal malty flavors, while brown sugar lends a caramelized, cane-ripe finish.
6. “Red Snapper” Bloody Mary
Sure, you’ve probably met a Bloody Mary or two at brunch before. But have you met its dolled up, East Coast cousin, the Red Snapper?
Legend has it that French bartender, Fernand Petiot, brought the concoction with him after moving from Paris to New York City to work at the famous St. Regis Hotel. Aiming to elevate the drink’s notoriety, Petiot swapped vodka for gin while keeping the rest of the Bloody Mary’s signature spices.
The result is a refreshing, complex drink made for gin lovers — and those touring their way through the list of New York City cocktails.
- Directions: Rub a lime wedge around the rim of a pint glass, then dip the now-damp rim into salt and pepper until the seasonings cover its lip. In a cocktail shaker, combine 4 oz. tomato juice, 2 oz. gin, 1/2 oz. lemon juice (about half a lemon), 1 pinch of celery salt, 1/2 teaspoon of Worcestershire sauce and 1/2 teaspoon of Tabasco. Shake until combined, about 10 seconds. Pour over ice, then garnish with a lime wedge and celery stick.
7. The Brooklyn
It only makes sense for one of New York City’s most famous boroughs to have its own famous New-York-themed cocktail. And like its namesake borough, the Brooklyn cocktail serves up a bold punch of flavor with a bit of eclectic flair, combining two spirits that don’t often (intentionally) go together: rye and vermouth.
- Directions: Mix 1 oz. rye whiskey with 1/2 oz. dry vermouth, 1/4 oz. cherry-flavored liquor and a dash of Angostura bitters. Stir until combined, about 10 seconds. Serve in a chilled glass without ice. Garnish with a maraschino cherry and mint leaves.
Pro tip: Some people enjoy using maraschino cherry juice straight from the jar instead of cherry-flavored liquor. While this swap adds an extra layer of sweetness to the Brooklyn, it can be thick and syrupy if it’s not watered down first.
8. New York Lemonade
Few drinks hit the spot on a hot summer stroll around Central Park better than a New-York-style Lemonade.
This spiked perennial favorite’s origins may be muddled, but the drink’s flavors certainly aren’t. Sipping a New York Lemonade will delight the palate with refreshing citrus notes of lemon and orange brightened by a splash or two of club soda. Serve yours as a standalone beverage at your next get-together with friends or as a pairing alongside other summer fares, like grilled Hawaiian chicken kebobs and a zucchini-corn salad, all serenading summer.
- Directions: Stir together 1 oz. Grand Marnier orange liqueur, 2 oz. of citrus vodka, 1 oz. of club soda and 2 oz. of fresh lemon juice (about two lemons). Serve in a cold cocktail glass garnished with a lemon wheel.
9. The New York Sour
If the New York Lemonade is too sweet for your tastes, consider its grownup sibling, the New York Sour.
Yes, you read that right. This cocktail has the best of both worlds — liquor and wine — artfully balanced for that sweet and sour dance with every sip. Plus, when done right, the wine forms the top layer of the drink, placing a lovely scarlet cap atop the otherwise honey-gold drink.
- Directions: In a cocktail shaker, combine 2 oz. bourbon with 1 oz. lemon juice (about one lemon), 1/2 oz. simple syrup and a splash of orange juice. Shake until well combined, about 25 seconds. Pour into a glass, then slowly add the 1 oz. of sweet red wine to the top. Do not mix the wine with the rest of the contents. Garnish with a lemon or orange wheel.
Pro tip: To achieve the New York Sour’s signature red wine top layer, pour the red wine slowly over the back of a spoon rather than straight into the glass. Doing so allows the red wine to “float” atop the drink rather than mix in or sink to the bottom.
Sure, the appletini is technically a type of martini. But this drink’s sour apple flavor is so synonymous with the Big Apple, we couldn’t create a complete list of New-York-City-themed cocktails without giving it a special shoutout. Plus, apples are New York’s official state fruit. Celebrate the crisp, fragrant and lively tang of the appletini using liquors that lean toward green apple flavoring over red.
- Directions: Fill a cocktail shaker with ice cubes. Add to the shaker 1.5 oz. vodka, 1 oz. green apple schnapps (or similar green apple liquor) and 1 oz. Cointreau. Shake until combined, about 30 seconds. Strain into a martini glass, then garnish with a thin green apple slice.
Pro tip: For a flavor boost, add a squeeze of lemon or lime to your appletini. The acidity will actually complement the green apple’s tart profile rather than obscuring it.
11. Long Island Iced Tea
Depending on who you ask, this classic New York cocktail may or may not have actually been born in Long Island. Yet in many ways, the Long Island Iced Tea has come to encompass the diversity, energy and kick so typical of Long Island — and New York City as a whole.
Made from a little bit of this and a little bit of that, Long Island Iced Teas are a genuinely unique blend of spirits that are easy to drink (and easier to drink too many of). Even with their formidable ingredient list, Long Island Iced Teas are also one of the most straightforward New York classic cocktails to craft. Just make sure you drink some water between rounds. You’ll thank us later.
- Directions: In a cocktail shaker, combine 1 oz. vodka, 1 oz. gin, 1 oz. white rum, 1 oz. silver tequila, 1/2 oz. Triple Sec and 1/2 oz. of lemon juice (about half a lemon). Shake until combined, about 30 seconds. Pour into a chilled glass over 2-3 ice cubes, then add 1/2 cup of cola, or enough to taste. Garnish with an orange or lemon wheel.
Pro tip: Use a range of flavored vodkas or flavored white rums to add increased complexity to your Long Island Iced Tea. You can’t go wrong with blood orange and grapefruit, though peaches, mangoes and even guava are welcome out-of-the-box Long Island Iced Tea additions too.
12. The Staten Island Ferry
The Staten Island Ferry is a classic New York City cocktail for people who rarely make cocktails. Featuring only two ingredients — yes, two — it’s a beverage choice that’s straightforward, simple and to the point.
Just don’t be fooled into thinking this two-mixed drink isn’t dynamic. Featuring creamy coconut rum with bright, juicy pineapple, Staten Island Ferry cocktails can brighten any bar’s offerings with beach-reminiscent vibes.
- Directions: Combine 2 oz. Malibu rum (or any other coconut-flavored rum) with 2 oz. fresh pineapple juice. Stir together, then pour over 2-3 ice cubes. Garnish with a pineapple wedge.
Pro tip: If this pineapple-coconut concoction veers too sweet, just add some herbs. Fresh basil, thyme and even tarragon work wonders to bring a new dimension to Staten Island Ferry cocktails without erasing their fruity-sweet signature.
13. The Bronx
The Bronx cocktail continues New York City’s love story with martinis. In the early 1900s, upscale hotel bars like The Waldorf Astoria began offering an array of gin-based drinks to meet the demand for the most popular spirit of the time. Voila — the Bronx cocktail was born, highlighting gin’s nuanced botanicals alongside a range of sweet and dry mixers for a refined yet refreshing drink.
- Directions: Add 3-4 ice cubes into a cocktail shaker. Pour 2 oz. dry gin with 1 oz. orange juice, .25 oz. sweet vermouth and .25 oz. dry vermouth over the ice, then shake until combined. Strain into a martini glass, then serve with an orange peel twist.
Pro tip: Use freshly squeezed orange juice whenever possible, as well as both sweet and dry vermouth. Opting for only a sweet or a dry vermouth will throw off the botanical-citrus balance so crucial to creating a proper Bronx cocktail, resulting in an unpleasant, astringent aftertaste.
14. Queens Cocktail
Another famous NYC cocktail named after one of its five distinct boroughs, the Queens cocktail is an easy-to-make and easier-to-enjoy beverage with a unique profile of flavors.
Similar to the Bronx, the Queens cocktail is said to have first been poured in the late 19th/early 20th century as a creative twist on the gin martini. The beverage is a prime choice for those who have a sweet tooth, with classical versions mixing pineapple and even orange juice with sweet vermouth.
Today, you’ll find many bars playing up the fruity, floral qualities of a good Queens cocktail, adding everything from apricots to lychees to elderberry syrup. We suggest the classic base to start.
- Directions: Combine 1 oz. dry gin with 1 oz. dry vermouth, 1 oz. sweet vermouth and 1 oz. pineapple juice. Stir together until combined, about 20 seconds. Serve in a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a lime wheel.
Pro tip: Drink from a wide-lipped cocktail glass, like a coupe glass or champagne saucer if possible. The wide brim may not make for the easiest drink swirl, but it will let your nose more readily take in the pineapple and botanical notes, therefore enhancing the cocktail’s flavors.
15. The Gin-Gin Mule
Name sound familiar? We’re not surprised. The gin-gin mule may roll off the tongue, but it’s also reminiscent of its parent drinks — the classic gin and tonic combined with the zippy, tart Moscow Mule most popular during New York City’s festive winter season.
Showcasing pops of ginger with smooth, silky mint, the gin-gin mule is on record as a “gateway” gin drink for vodka aficionados. Esteemed Pegu Club mixologist Audrey Saunders is attributed to mixing the first gin-gin mule, inspired by flavors and ingredients popular in the 19th and 20th centuries. The result is an imaginative take on two beloved cocktails that still managed to make its own waves.
- Directions: In a cocktail shaker, muddle 6-7 fresh mint leaves with 1 oz. of simple syrup and the juice from 1 lime. Once they’re combined, pour in 2 oz. London dry gin. Add 2-3 ice cubes, then shake all ingredients until blended, about 30 seconds. Strain into a classic highball cocktail glass, taking care to remove any mint leaves that sneak through. Add ginger beer to taste. Garnish with a lime wedge and mint sprig.
Pro tip: Add fresh fruits or herbs to your gin-gin mule shaker for next-level flavor punches. We like cranberries, blackberries, pomegranates, melons and even fresh rhubarb.
Find Your One-Stop Shop for Classic Cocktail Spirits, Mixers and More
The extensive selection at Marketview Liquor means one place for all your cocktail, wine and beverage-creation needs. Whether you’re trying time-tested favorites or another drink that has caught your fancy, we love providing a one-stop shop for experimenting with craft cocktails. Plus, with our full spirits inventory available to explore online, you can browse ahead of time and pick up exactly what you need in-store. While you’re at it, why not toss in a bottle or two of wine from our award-winning wine catalog? We won’t tell if you don’t!
Shop wines online, with in-store and at-home delivery options available. Then, swing by to stock your at-home bar with our vast selection of in-store premium spirits and liquors today.