5 Embarrassing Cocktails You Can Feel Good About Ordering Again

5 Embarrassing Cocktails You Can Feel Good About Ordering Again

Remember Long Island iced tea? It's not just for dorm rooms anymore.

Ah, the '70s. The Me Decade is usually remembered for its style, but while fringe, flares and floppy hats keep making a comeback, it's about time the decade's deliciously trashy cocktails got their due. Now, happily, the once cringe-worthy drinks of the disco era—dominated by Bailey’s, Curaçao and sour mixare getting a decidedly upscale (and totally irresistible) reinvention.

Piña Colada

This requisite beach-vacation Instagram prop (paper umbrella and all) is the guilty pleasure of many a pedigreed bartender, but at Dallas's Midnight Rambler, co-founder Chad Solomon gives the classic Piña Colada a whole new spin. The original is usually made with rum, pineapple and crème of coconut, but Solomon jettisons canned pineapple juice for fresh and swaps out the often-used Puerto Rican rum for a funkier and fruitier Rhum Agricole and Jamaican Pot Still rum. Then he adds mineral saline (for saltiness), coconut milk and lime juice to bring the flavors into focus.  If the drink is not on the cocktail list, you can always order it off menu, as long as you ask nicely. Photo credit: Chad Solomon

Long Island Iced Tea

A riff on the notorious Long Island Iced Tea, a college-day staple designed to get you drunk immediately, the Strong Island at San Francisco's Blackbird stays true its roots with a potent (albeit more cohesive) combo of spirits. Traditionally made with five different (mostly clear) alcohols—plus sour mix and a splash of Coke to give it a tea-like huethe cocktail gets a fancy upgrade on bartender Crystal Chasse's old-school hip-hop themed cocktail menu. Her version combines bourbon, rye and dark pineapple rum, the chile liqueur Ancho Reyes, limoncello and a housemade cola she infuses with lavender chamomile, coriander, cassia bark, vanilla, lemon, lime and orange zest. Bonus: It's served on draft.

White Russian

Named after the Jeff Bridges character in The Big Lebowski, who unabashedly loved a White Russian, The Dude—served at New York City's Betonyis more than just a remix of the much maligned vodka and Kahlua-based cocktail. Masterminded by Betony's Eamon Rockey, it’s a thoughtful tribute to coffee (and alcohol, of course). The first layer features double-strength cold brew coffee cut with bourbon, a spirit infinitely more flavorful and complementary than neutral vodka. The second is made up of cascara tea, brewed from the traditionally discarded dried fruit of the coffee berry. The third and final layer is made with rooibos, the coffee-like red bush from South Africa that’s steeped with cream, then whipped to order and poured on top. Dude, you got all that? Photo credit: Cecilia Busick

Harvey Wallbanger

From Sycamore Den, a hip San Diego cocktail bar that draws inspiration from the 1970s (“when Dad was bearded, strong, smoked Newports, quenched his thirst with lite beer and viewed life through yellow-tinted lenses”) comes the Hardly Wallbanger, a nod to the vodka and orange juice-based Harvey Wallbanger. The neon-yellow glow comes from Galliano, an anise- and vanilla-flavored Italian liqueur, which along with the Wallbanger fell out of favor until 2010; that's when the liqueur company returned to its less-sweet, higher-alcohol original formula. Sycamore Den barman Eric Johnson’s version is brightened with lemon juice, vanilla extract and a splash of soda. Photo credit: Courtesy of Sycamore Den

Root Beer Float

Who better to turn to for a trashy-drink reinvention than Instagram sensation and bonafide chef Christine Flynn, whose Instagram alter ego Jacques La Merde broke the Internet and appeared on Top Chef to judge the contestants' haute-cuisine riffs on junk food? The Toronto-based Flynn brings us this Fernet Float, “an adult version of the root beer floats that my granddad made me on special occasions when I was little," she says. The cocktail is a cross between an after-dinner drink and a dessert, and it features root beer, vanilla ice cream, and a shot of Fernet topped with a liberal amount of Cool Whip, rainbow sprinkles, Pocky sticks and a Maraschino cherry.

Fernet Float

Recipe courtesy of Christine Flynn

Photo credit: Christine Flynn

2 ounces Fernet (Flynn prefers Fernet Francisco)

4 ounces root beer (Flynn uses Dad’s Old-Fashioned Root Beer)

1 scoop vanilla ice cream

Cool Whip

Maraschino cherry (ideally tied in a knot)


2 Pocky sticks

Bendy straw (optional)

To prepare the float, just bomb the Fernet, root beer and ice cream in a glass and top liberally with Cool Whip, sprinkles, Pocky sticks and a cherry.


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