15 Best-Value Cocktails To Order, Ranked

When you order a drink at a bar, there are countless factors that help inform which cocktail you decide to go with. If you're like most of us, you want something that tastes good, contains a decent amount of alcohol, and doesn't break the bank. While there are probably occasions in which you want to throw caution to the wind and order an expensive, boozy treat for yourself, most of the time selecting a "high-value" drink is on people's lists of concerns. 

To make getting the most bang for your buck the next time you're at your favorite watering hole easier, we've created and ranked a list of the best value cocktails around. Our ranking system isn't just about how much a cocktail costs — it also considers taste, accessibility, and drinkability. After all, if money was all that mattered, we'd advise you to just order a shot and call it a day. 

15. Bloody Mary

A Bloody Mary isn't any less potent than most standard drinks, but it clocks in at the bottom of our list for several reasons. For one, if you try ordering this outside of brunchtime hours, the bartender isn't going to be very happy with you (they've probably already put the Bloody Mary ingredients back in the walk-in fridge). For two, Bloody Marys are self-limiting because they are the closest thing you can get to drinking soup, so you're going to get full before you feel drunk. For three, unless a bar makes its own mix, you're probably overpaying for something that's really not that special.

Of course, there are exceptions to every rule. If a bar or restaurant goes all out with garnishes — and your drink basically includes a snack — then it might be worth it to order one of these savory concoctions. Much like their breakfast beverage cousins (aka mimosas), Bloody Marys are often offered as part of a deal, so sometimes you may be able to make these work for your budget.

14. Mimosa

A mimosa often costs as much or more than a glass of sparkling wine, even though it contains a hefty dose of orange juice. While we love the fact that the addition of OJ makes for a breakfast-friendly treat, we usually don't love mimosas for their value. You'll have to drink a lot of mimosas if you want to get wild at brunch (sometimes this is a good thing), so you're better off just ordering a glass of bubbly. Mimosas tend to be consumed in group settings (again, think brunch), so you can also consider ordering a bottle with some orange juice on the side if you really want to be thrifty.

The good news is, most places know they're gouging you on mimosas and offer deals on carafes or even bottomless options. Just be warned, if you opt for one of these, the orange juice is usually the more expensive of the two ingredients — so proceed with caution if the idea of super cheap wine gives you a headache just thinking about it.

13. Sangria

This one is really hit or miss, as some sangrias are a fantastic deal — while others are a total waste of money. This is because some sangria contains more juice and soda than it does alcohol. Since wine serves as the base of this fruity, punch-like concoction, if most of the drink is mixer, you'd need to throw back quite a few (which will probably result in a stomachache because of all the sugar).

On the other hand, some sangria isn't jam-packed with mixers, and can also be spiked with other types of booze like brandy, sherry, or even rum. As with most things in life, you usually get what you pay for, so if you think the price of a pitcher is too good to be true, it probably is. A lot of bars offer deals on sangria, especially for happy hour, so sometimes the risk is worth it even if you don't end up getting the fruity elixir of your dreams.

12. Whiskey sour

Don't get us wrong, we love a good whiskey sour. But, although they're tasty, this cocktail contains just as much "sour" as it does whiskey — so there are better drinks out there in terms of value. If you like your whiskey sours with egg whites (which we hope you do), that added frothy goodness also adds to the cocktail's price tag.

We aren't knocking the time and skill it takes to make a proper egg white drink. They're more time-consuming than a standard cocktail, are extremely easy to mess up (if you get any yolk, or worse, eggshells, in the shaker it's game over), and extra care must be taken to sanitize the bar tools that were used to make the drink to avoid cross-contamination.

If drinking an egg white cocktail feels extra special to you, then a whiskey sour might be a good choice. If you couldn't care less about that foam, then order a whiskey lemonade and thank us later.

11. Moscow Mule

There's nothing wrong with a Moscow Mule, but it contains a standard pour of liquor along with "nothing special" ingredients (ginger beer and lime juice). We can't deny that it's a delicious combination, but it's not special enough to warrant specialty cocktail prices if you're asking us. You're honestly better off asking for vodka and ginger beer and then squeezing your own lime into the mix. You won't get the cool copper mug, but you'll save a little cash (keep in mind that you will pay more for this than you would for a vodka and ginger ale, which is much cheaper).

However, Moscow Mules are zesty and refreshing, and they're tried and true crowd-pleasers. This makes them a safe bet if you're ordering a drink for someone whose drink preferences you aren't too sure about. Hey, if the copper mug adds value to your drinking experience, then order away! After all, drinking is a multisensory experience, and aesthetics matter, too.

10. Dark 'n' Stormy

You can conceptualize a Dark 'n' Stormy in the same vein as you would a Moscow Mule since the ingredients are the same, save for the dark rum that stands in place of vodka. It's a solid option, but not necessarily special enough to warrant paying that much more than you would for a well drink. You can apply the same tip we mentioned for the Moscow Mule dupe and just order dark rum and ginger beer, and then squeeze your lime into your drink.

Of course, there are also plenty of good things to say about this option as it's hard to mess up, easy to find, and almost impossible not to like. As great as it is, it's one of those beverages that you're better off making at home. While some cocktails require expensive ingredients that make ordering it at a bar more economical, a dark and stormy doesn't fall into that category by any stretch of the imagination.

9. Corpse Reviver No. 2

The name "Corpse Reviver" alludes to the fact that this drink is so strong it can seemingly revive the dead, and it's a delicious option if you want something complex, refined, and for the more advanced drinker. If you're wondering, yes, there are two versions of this cocktail, but for simplicity's sake, we're only discussing the second version here. 

Despite its hefty ABV, the Corpse Reviver No. 2 falls lower on our list because if you order this at a casual bar (or even a nice restaurant bar, for that matter), you might be met with a blank stare from the bartender. Lemon juice is the only non-alcoholic ingredient to cut the gin, Cointreau, Lillet Blanc, and absinthe this drink contains, so you can see how it's a force to be reckoned with when you can get your hands on one. Value aside, it's a great cocktail to have up your sleeve when you're at a fancy bar and want to order like you know what you're doing.

8. Zombie

This is one of the highest-proof cocktails out there, but it ranks lower on our list because not all bars can make one. A Zombie is a tropical, tiki-inspired drink that requires several ingredients the average bar doesn't stock. The list of ingredients in a Zombie recipe is long and includes four types of rum, absinthe, grenadine, cinnamon syrup, and Falernum, just to name a few.

If you do find yourself at a tropical resort (or at a tiki bar) then, by all means, order a Zombie if you want a drink that you'll be sure to feel after just one or two. It won't be cheap, but it will taste delicious and you can sip on it for a while as the crushed ice slowly dilutes and makes it a little less potent. This drink often comes complete with a flaming garnish, so you'll get a strong drink with a bit of a show, too.

7. Long Island Iced Tea

You might be surprised this one isn't ranked at the top of our list, but although this cocktail packs a deadly punch, the side eye you'll get for ordering one really decreases the overall value. If you don't mind the suspicious glance you'll likely get from the bartender, a LIT will get the job done.

Long Islands contain more types of liquor than the average drinker has on their bar cart (vodka, tequila, gin, rum, triple sec), but taste less boozy than a Cosmo. You'll probably pay more for a Long Island than you would for a standard cocktail, but we can assure you that you'll get your money's worth. If you plan on drinking for a long period of time (or you're at a professional event with your uptight boss), please don't order one of these. As much as we love to poke fun at these boozy concoctions, we'll admit that when made properly (and there are ways you can upgrade your Long Island Iced Tea), they taste pretty good for what they are.

6. Old Fashioned

An Old Fashioned is the perfect drink to have on standby when you don't know what to order, but you know you want something that's boozy and tastes good. Whiskey, simple syrup (or a sugar cube, depending on the recipe) and bitters are the only ingredients in this classic, so it isn't messing around. We like this option because the ice helps make things a little easier-drinking than something like a Sazerac or a Manhattan.

These cocktails are easy to make, so you won't have to worry about getting on a bartender's bad side when you order one. They're classy enough to sip on at a work function (like we said, don't try that with a Long Island Iced Tea), and tasty enough to feel like a treat. As far as price is concerned, just be sure to ask for a mid-range bourbon or whiskey to keep your tab in check.

5. Sazerac

A Sazerac is an interesting cocktail because while most drinks are served either up or on the rocks, this one is served in a rocks glass sans ice — so you can see that this drink is strong just by looking at it. Essentially, a classic Sazerac can be looked at like a shot of rye, but one that tastes good due to the addition of sugar, bitters, and a hint of absinthe. If you like spirit-forward drinks, this can be a great option if you're tired of run-of-the-mill picks like Old Fashioneds or Manhattans.

The biggest downside to a Sazerac is that a lot of bars don't stock absinthe, so you can't get an authentic version of this drink everywhere. However, if you're really concerned about alcohol content above all else, you could always tell the bartender it's okay to omit it (just don't tell them we told you to do that). It certainly won't taste the same, but sometimes value comes at a price.

4. Negroni

Negronis contain a full three ounces of liquor (sometimes slightly more, depending on who's making it), so they're a great option if you want something potent. Gin, Campari, and sweet vermouth combine into a deliciously bitter, complex libation that acts as an efficient way to make the most out of aperitivo hour.

This cocktail gets extra points because the bitterness will slow you down. Trust us, it's hard to chug a Negroni, so when you settle your tab you might be surprised at how little damage you did to your bank account. There are several tips and tricks you can keep in mind when ordering a Negroni, but if you're worried about cost, be sure to specify the type of gin you'd like to serve as the base. That said, it's usually worth it from a flavor perspective to go for something that isn't the cheapest bottle in the bar.

3. Manhattan

If you want a cocktail that's tasty, refined, and provides a seriously boozy kick, look no further than a Manhattan. Manhattans contain a full two ounces of rye or bourbon, plus another full ounce of vermouth. Even though the vermouth isn't as strong as straight liquor, it's still booze on top of booze. Most standard drinks contain two ounces of booze plus a non-alcoholic mixer, so you can think of the vermouth as a boozy little bonus.

This one is also high on our list because you'll be hard-pressed to find a bartender who can't make one. While we don't recommend ordering one in a dive bar (a setting in which we'd recommend a beer and a shot if you want a good deal), it's a drink that's generally as accessible as it is tasty. Once again, you'll pay typical cocktail prices for this classic, but just flash back to what we mentioned about the three ounces of liquor when you get the bill.

2. Extra dry martini

An extra dry martini is a martini that contains little to no vermouth. Since a simple martini consists of just vermouth and the base spirit (either vodka or gin), when you take away the vermouth you're left with a cocktail that's 100% full-strenth booze. Now, you might be wondering how this differs from a straight shot, but the techniques used to make a martini combined with a good garnish means that drinking one of these is a lot more palatable than drinking something neat or tossing one back.

Plus, you sipping rather than shooting means you'll get to prolong the drinking experience — which in our opinion, adds to the value of the drink order. Martinis generally contain a lot more volume than a shot, too. You'll pay more for a martini (especially if you opt for a top-shelf brand), but if you do the math you'll likely find that an extra dry martini is one of the best deals going. You'll also look classy and sophisticated rather than rowdy and cheap, which never hurts.

1. French 75

This boozy, bright, and bubbly cocktail is the uncontested winner when it comes to providing the perfect combination of alcohol content, taste, and ubiquity. The standard French 75 recipe features just gin (or cognac), Champagne, lemon juice, and simple syrup. Even if a bar doesn't have the good stuff — and by that we mean Champagne — most can swap it out for Prosecco or Cava, so you can order one of these babies just about anywhere.

It's a cocktail that tastes light and refreshing, but in reality, is about as strong as it gets. In fact, this beverage was named after a World War I weapon that, much like its boozy predecessor, had a reputation for packing a punch. French 75s can sneak up on you since you won't be as acutely aware of its ABV as you would if you were drinking something like a martini. We'd almost venture to say that French 75s are too delicious (almost).

You'll probably pay standard cocktails prices for a French 75 (if you do find yourself somewhere that serves Champagne by the glass, you might want to request a cheaper variety of sparkling wine), but you'll be enjoying the most efficient and delicious way to catch a strong buzz.