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cocktails

The age-old question of what to order at the local watering hole is one which answers change as rapidly as new ingredients appear on the market. However, there are trends that go with the ebb and flow of bars and restaurants, and then there are classic cocktails whose flavor and appeal will never go out of style. Here are a few of the most overrated blends on the market — and some suggested alternatives.

Over the hill: Cosmo. This citrusy crowd-pleaser wore out its welcome more than a decade ago. Some mixologists have tried to extend its popularity by adding fresh fruit purees and alternative ingredients, but putting lipstick on a pig won’t turn her into Miss America.

Try instead: Craft martini. Many establishments offer daily drink features and specialties of the house; take advantage of one of these to discover a new favorite. Try a vodka martini flavored with a seasonal ingredient such as maple syrup or fresh basil.

Over the hill: Old fashioned. Ruining good whiskey with sugar and macerated fruit is not sophisticated, nor is it particularly popular with bar staff, who have to stop in their tracks to locate the mortar and pestle while muttering furious epithets under their breath every time this corpse gets resurrected.

Try instead: Vieux Carre. The herbal notes of Benedictine provide a rounder counterpoint to the whiskey, and the subtle sweetness of vermouth and the warm tang of bitters are still represented. As a bonus, every nearby customer will want to know what this is.

Over the hill: Bloody Mary. Chances are, the bartender won’t have freshly made bloody mix on hand, which means one of three things will happen:

  • He’ll make a vodka and tomato juice and hope the customer won’t notice
  • She’ll add the appropriate ingredients, but hold disdain for the drink and the person ordering it
  • The drink will contain ancient bloody mix that was concocted sometime during the last presidential administration

In short, ordering a Bloody Mary will lead to disappointment on both sides.

Try instead: Spicy Vodka Michelada. This Mexican specialty is traditionally made with beer, lime, and spices, but shake it up with this recipe instead, which substitutes a heat-infused vodka for the beer. It’s a refreshing alternative to the heavy meal-in-a-glass Bloody experience.