With his new app, the great drinks writer Robert Simonson has declared the definitive 99 modern classic cocktails. He tells F&W which ones he's drinking this spring.

By Kate Krader
Updated May 24, 2017

It's that time of year when all of us at Food &Wine who love a good drink get ready to celebrate the release of F&W Cocktails 2016. This year's edition features the best new trends in cocktails around the country, from low proof drinks based on vermouths and aperitifs to high octane ones made with overproof spirits. Likewise, look out for all the great cocktails being made with fresh vegetable juices. (You can find a preview of the Cocktails 2016 in our May issue.)

But we also want to keep track of the drinks that qualify as modern classics. To the rescue: Robert Simonson and his new app, Modern Classics of the Cocktail Renaissance. The renowned drinks writer has compiled a list of, as the title says, modern classics. "One of the most common debates over the past several years is what constitutes a modern classic cocktail," says Simonson. "And which drinks, if any, have achieved status."

And so Simonson cut through the "tall tales and fuzzy facts," of the origins of 99 of the most well-regarded and much-ordered drinks from the past few decades and got their definitive recipes, from the Barrel-aged Negroni to the Cosmopolitan. The Cosmopolitan? "Some people might object to drinks like the Cosmpolitan or the Lemon Drop here; they raise the hackles of serious mixologists. But there's no denying they helped lay the foundations of future mixology achievements," says Simonson.

So now that cocktails are so seasonally inspired, what modern classics would Simonson recommend we drink in spring? A nice mix, it turns out. "Bright gin drinks say spring to me," he says. "The Bramble, that English classic made of gin, lemon, creme de mure and fresh blackberries, looks and drinks like a harbinger of the season. The Eastside, another gin drink, and an early favorite at Milk & Honey and other cocktails bars, is tall and refreshing, a riff on that warm-weather classic, the Southside. The Gin Basil Smash, the European phenomenon of the past decade, also fits the bill with its fragrant, double dose of fresh and muddled basil leaves." Cheers.