« back to Trends & Inspiration

The World’s Best Bartenders Favourite Cocktails

Everyone has a favourite cocktail, their go-to drink they love to make for others. So, we asked three World Class bartenders what their favourite cocktail was and why! Read on to discover their choices, how to make them and how to recommend them to customers.

Bannie Kang – World Class Winner 2019 loves the simplicity of the Pisco Sour.

What’s your favourite cocktail to make?

If I had to pick, I would say Pisco Sour is my favourite. I like to experiment with this cocktail, putting a modern twist on the traditional. That said, depending on my mood, I also really love a whisky highball, or the Chilcano de Pisco which is a nice alternative to the Pisco Sour served in a highball. It’s refreshing and best of all, it’s hard to get wrong!

Why is this your favourite?

This cocktail is really simple and easy to make. After a long day at work, this is exactly what I need! When shaken correctly, the egg white forms a creamy foam that balances the sour notes perfectly and its silky-smooth texture is delicious!

Is there any story behind it?

The Pisco Sour was one of the very first drinks I ever made, so it is especially memorable for me.When I was just starting out at City Space in the Swissotel Stamford it was one of the most popular drinks on the menu. I will always remember my boss at the time tried the cocktail and said ‘It’s not Pisco Sour…. It’s Pisco Sweet’!

How do you recommend it to customers?

I tell customers how fresh and tasty this cocktail is and that when made well, is one of the most drinkable cocktails you can try. Be careful though, they are very easy to drink and can be strong depending on how they are mixed!


Tim Philips-Johansson - World Class Winner 2012 likes to make his own mark on the classic Martini.

What’s your favourite cocktail to make?

I’m a firm believer that there truly is a cocktail for every occasion, each suited to a certain time or place. But, truth be told I do have a favourite and at the moment, it’s the Martini. Yep, sorry, boring, I know! I learnt to find my favourites by experimenting and trying combinations that suited my preferences. In fact, by the time this gets published and I’m asked the question again, my favourite will no doubt have changed!

Why is this your favourite?

I could talk for days on why the Martini is the perfect cocktail to make. I won’t but I would recommend you pick up a copy of Robert Simonson’s book The Martini Cocktail… That’s right, a whole book on the one drink! It’s that good.

How do you make it?

A cold, crisp martini should taste like the world's best water. The perfect combination of dry gin, a generous slosh of vermouth, a drop of orange bitters and probably the most underrated ingredient; water - or the diluted run-off from the ice you have no doubt used to pull this whole operation together. Chuck an olive in if you like, pinch a citrus peel at it if you’re feeling adventurous, sure.

How do you recommend it to customers?

The Martini is dry, gin-heavy and leans towards more austere preferences. It’s also great for cleansing of the palate and for a certain period of time, at a certain bar, made by someone you trust (or yourself).


Kaitlyn Stewart - World Class winner 2017 likes to make Instagram worthy Margaritas.

What’s your favourite cocktail to make?

It’s difficult to pick just one favourite cocktail as I have many, each dependent on my mood! But if I had to pick just one cocktail to make and drink for the rest of my life, it would be the Margarita.

Why is this your favourite?

Because it’s perfectly complicated and simple at the same time. There is a fine balance of sweet and sour, if one is slightly off it completely changes the flavour profile of the cocktail - so nailing this one really lets me show off my bar skills.

Whether you’re drinking a Tommy’s Margarita, a Mescal Margarita or a frozen strawberry margarita on a sun lined terrace, there’s a version to fit and satisfy any occasion. I personally prefer the Classic Margarita.

A classic Margarita made with Cointreau adds another layer of flavour to the cocktail with the orange notes mellowing out the acidity and brightening the botanical quality of the tequila.

How do you recommend it to customers?

When recommending this cocktail in the past I have had customers turn up their nose at the thought of a tequila-based cocktail. It’s usually because they’ve had a bad experience before. At this point, I try to educate them on the fact that when a margarita is made right, it’s light and refreshing. It’s a versatile cocktail that can be enjoyed anytime of the year, but for obvious reasons it works particularly well on a hot summer’s day.

As you may have gathered from these responses, cocktail preference is a personal thing dictated by many different variables including mood, location or the weather! With that said, it's always fascinating what some of the best bartenders in the world love to make.

So go on, flex those mixology muscles and challenge yourself to making their favourites! Find the recipe card for all recipes here.

Want to keep up to date on cocktail trends and get access to exclusive content? Sign up to Diageo Bar Academy today for unlimited access to it all.

Recommended for you:

  • BARTENDING: THE EVOL

    BARTENDING: THE EVOLUTION OF AN INDUSTRY & AN ART FORM

    The bartending journey has been a long one, filled with many ups and downs. Senior bartender Simon Aukett delves into the past, present and future of bartending.

  • YOU KNOW YOU’RE A

    YOU KNOW YOU’RE A BARTENDER WHEN...

    Long nights, tired legs and aching muscles from pouring, shaking and stirring are some of the tell-tale signs of being a bartender. Then there are some less obvious ones that may sound all too familiar!

  • BRINGING YOUR “A-G

    BRINGING YOUR “A-GAME” AS A BAR MANAGER

    Behind every successful bar is often a happy, thriving team. Take inspo from Australian Bar Manager of the Year Ewan Stroeve as he shares his experience of managing a team. 

  • THE DIAGEO BAR ACADE

    THE DIAGEO BAR ACADEMY PODCAST, BAR CHAT

    Whether you’re managing a team, working behind the bar or serving guests, expect a range of topics and conversations to help you raise the bar and stay connected.