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Whether you’re a seasoned bartender or budding at-home mixologist, it’s important to know your classic cocktails. But what is a classic cocktail, exactly? After all, there are hundreds of classic cocktails and the phrase is probably going to mean something a bit different to everyone.
In the Oxford Companion to Spirits & Cocktails, drinks writer Robert Hess acknowledges that it’s hard to pin down a precise definition, but “the establishment of a canon of classics was an important part of the success of the 21st-century cocktail renaissance.”
For this list, we defined classic cocktails as drinks that were around before or invented during America’s Prohibition—aka the period between 1920 and 1933—and are still staples at your local bar today.