While everyday at NIO Cocktails certainly feels like World Cocktail Day, on the 13th of May we join cocktail fans around the world in raising a glass (quite literally) to celebrate one of our favourite holidays. But what is the history behind the 13th of May? And what are our top tips to mark the occasion in style? Read on to find out more about why we celebrate World Cocktail Day and how to raise a toast with a twist.

History of World Cocktail Day 

Far from being a recent addition to our diaries, World Cocktail Day has surprising historical connotations. In fact, the 13th of May marks the first time the word “cocktail” was published, and the beginning of its lofty rise in popularity around the world. In 1806, the New York based tabloid ‘The Balance and Columbian Repository’ defined a cocktail as  “a stimulating liquor, composed of spirits of any kind, sugar, water and bitters…” in response to a reader’s question, and thus the cocktail was officially born. 

newspaper clipping cocktail definition oldAbove: the original clipping from The Balance and Columbian Repository defining the cocktail

Since then, our idea of what makes a great cocktail has changed hugely. The famous Prohibition Era in the 1930’s saw the arrival of sour cocktails, like Whiskey Sours and Southsides, which were made popular by speakeasy bars. Meanwhile, sweeter tipples that became immortalised with pop culture hits like Sex and the City, such as the Cosmopolitan and the Espresso Martini (a personal favourite of ours) began popping up on our radars in the 80s. 

It’s safe to say our palettes have come a long way since 1806 when the bitter cocktail was first in vogue - but the experience of raising a glass with your favourite bartender or a long-awaited reunion with friends has certainly never gone out of style. In fact, it’s more important now than ever. 


World Cocktail Day Today

While many cocktail fans would dig out their own shaker to whip up a suitable tipple for World Cocktail Day, at NIO we’ve done all the hard work for you! All you need to do to enjoy World Cocktail Day in style is choose your favourite from our bar, pour over ice, sit back and savour. 

Mind you, if you need a little extra inspiration for your evening toast, look no further than Drinks International’s top cocktails of 2021. Below we’ve listed the six cocktails to top their charts - perfect for your next 6-Box - and passed on our expert mixologist tips to give your favourite NIO a festive flourish. 

6. Espresso Martini

Espresso Martini Lemon Cocktail Garnish Glass

The traditional garnish for the Espresso Martini, as its fans all know, would be a few espresso beans carefully laid on top. However, if you want to bring out more of the citrus fruit aromas in the coffee liqueur, and give more levity to the drink, we recommend using a lemon peel to perfume your glass and add a fresher note.

5. Margarita

NIO Cocktails Tommy's Margarita Glass Limes

It will be no surprise to hear the Margarita places in the top 5 of the world’s most popular cocktails, and for good reason - zesty lime and a touch of salt make this cocktail the iconic summer drink. We would suggest adding chilli salt to the rim of our Tommy’s Margarita to give a familiar spicy kick, or a cucumber ribbon along the inside of the glass to bring out the lighter flavours of the agave syrup. You can also brush up on what makes our Tommy’s Margarita so special right here.

4. Dry Martini

Dry Martini Gibson pickled onions

One of the most timeless cocktails around, Dry Martinis exude sophistication and cool. If you’re looking for a fun twist to give your Martini an edge that would make James Bond envious, rather than opting for olives, why not choose two pickled onions? This combination is known as a Gibson, and is a favourite among bartenders for the sharp tang it gives this otherwise subtle drink.

3. Daiquiri

Daiquiri cocktail NIO Cocktails glass drink

The fun, bright flavours of a Daiquiri are easy to customise with your fruit of choice - strawberries, raspberries, and cherries to name a few - but we look to the great author Hemingway for an unexpected finish to this cocktail. Inspired by the Hemingway Daiquiri, we suggest a half slice of ruby grapefruit, and a dash of Maraschino liqueur, to give an aromatic citrus edge and a hint of rich sweetness.

2. Negroni

Negroni NIO Cocktails Glass Award

Truly the king of Italian cocktails and a favourite among mixologists and cocktail fans alike, the Negroni almost always lands in the top three international favourites. Robust and bittersweet, we can think of no better drink to toast to the sunset at the end of World Cocktail Day. If, however, you’re feeling a little peckish and want some inspiration for some food pairings to complete your aperitivo moment, take a look at our ultimate food guide to the Negroni to impress your guests.

1. Old Fashioned

Old Fashioned NIO Cocktail Drink Orange Glass

The coveted top spot for the last 7 years Drinks International has run this poll has always gone to the Old Fashioned - a drink so delicious our Master Mixologist Patrick Pistolesi has declared it “almost meditational”. The perfect garnish to this whiskey classic is a personal choice, but for something slightly out of the ordinary we might recommend a slice of dehydrated orange and a maraschino cherry to highlight all the nuanced citrus flavours. And if you want to learn a little more about what makes this Prohibition Era tipple so special (and impress your friends at the bar) we have everything you need to know right here.


NIO Cocktails box of 6 cocktails sleeve

Feeling inspired by our World Cocktail Day recommendations? Take a look at our bar and choose your perfect Share Box, or simply select our Best Seller Box to enjoy our most loved cocktails. Salute!