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Classy Upscale Drinks for Fancy Get Togethers (17 of them!)
When I think of my favorite Upscale Drinks, I always envision James Bond sitting in some exotic bar dressed in a tuxedo and sipping a martini, shaken and not stirred of course, while sitting next to a beautiful bombshell.
The shape of the glass, the way it’s prepared and served, and the green olive on a stick for the simple yet sophisticated finish to the otherwise clear drink just completes the classy ambiance of any classy bar.
Yes, there are very few drinks that conjure up a more upscale drink reference than the martini, but there are a few others as well. And that’s what this list of upscale drinks is all about. Helping you to not only look sophisticated at that important business brunch or first date, but to actually enjoy the taste of your drink that you just ordered from your friendly bartender.
I’ve tried to include some classy drinks, my personal favorites, and a little something for everyone. So whether you like a smooth vodka or gin, or beer and wine. I think you’ll you’ll find something that you can enjoy while looking great at the same time. In fact, it’s the name of this website. So take my list seriously 😉
This drink will always be the epitome of an “Upscale Drink”. It’s timeless and will always look great in your hand whether you’re wearing a $5,000 tuxedo or a faded pair of jeans and a t-shirt. It’s a classy drink at it’s finest and for me, it will always be the number one upscale drink.
A “real” martini is made with gin and a hint of vermouth. Basically the martini is simply a socially acceptable shot of gin. It just looks a lot better than gin in a shot glass.
For those of you that don’t like gin, then a vodka martini is a great choice as well. Just be sure you order a vodka martini at the bar, because if you just say a martini, you will get gin.
The Drink: Chill a Martini glass, rim will lemon peel, pour a shot of gin and a splash of vermouth. Twist lemon peel over the drink and garnish with an olive.
A lot of people look at absinthe as a drug rather than an upscale drink. Too bad, because not only is it really delicious, it also makes a beautiful drink. The presentation is another attention grabber. A sugar cube on an Absinthe spoon slowly dissolved with water to make this beautiful green drink something to stop and look at in any bar. If the establishment has an absinthe fountain, all the better!
If you happen to have the “Czech” version absinth being served to you, then there will also be fire involved. This is NOT the same as the French version of this drink. Czech Absinth is spelled with out the “e”, so check your bottle. It is meant to pair with the melted sugar whereas the French version is not.
The Drink: (French Version) Add a shot in a pint glass, place an absinthe spoon over the glass and add a sugar cube. Slowly add water to dissolve the sugar cube but keeping the ratio of water to absinthe from 3:1 to 5:1. Mix any undissolved sugar in the glass and serve.
3. Moscow Mule
We have a great Moscow Mule recipe that includes lime juice, ginger beer, and vodka variations to create a nice light and refreshing drink that is perfect for those hot days or nights. When your bartender serves your mule, if done correctly it will also have a bit of mint as a garnish for an even cleaner taste. Or maybe lime if the bar doesn’t have mint.
Either way, the green garnish looks great against the usually hand crafted copper mug that this drink is served in, making the whole experience of a Moscow mule a great upscale drink.
The Drink: Chill a copper mug and add 2 ounces vodka, 1/2 ounce fresh lime juice, and 3 ounces of cold ginger beer. Stir. Garnish with a lime wheel and mint (optional).
4. Old Fashioned
An old fashioned really is just that. The drink dates back to the 1800s! The main ingredient here is whiskey. A lump of sugar, a cherry and a bit of bitters and water are added to the glass and then muddled. Then the muddled ingredients are mixed with your favorite whiskey to create a cocktail with a lot of flavor that both a woman and a man can enjoy.
Garnished with a lemon peel and served in a rocks glass, this drink makes number four for our list of the best upscale drinks.
The Drink: Add 1/2 teaspoon sugar, 3 dashes Angostura bitters, and 1 teaspoon water to a rocks glass. Muddle well. Add ice, then whiskey. Garnish with orange peel.
5. Gin and Tonic
A “G&T” is similar to the martini, although instead of vermouth, it’s replaced with tonic water. And similarly, its clean and clear presentation makes it one of the classier drinks on our list. A Gin and Tonic is garnished with a lime and served over ice in a rocks glass. Although sometimes it’ll come in a taller drink glass. A super easy drink to make at home as well. If you love gin, then this is a definite try drink.
The Drink: A shot (1.5 oz or 44 ml) of gin over ice in a rocks glass topped off with tonic water. Garnish with a lime wedge.
Although wine has a huge variety as far as “drinks” go, it is still most definitely an upscale drink. Especially when bottles can go for hundreds or crazy amounts.
Personally, bottles usually in the $30-$50 range are fine for me. But my palette isn’t as refined as some of my wine connoisseur friends to be completely honest.
Then of course you have red and white wines, and knowing which wine pairs best with your meal is the very basics of understanding wine. So take a look at some of these other wine articles as there really is just too much to say about wines here.
The Drink: Just be sure to use the correct wine glass.
7. White Wine Spritzer
The perfect drink for any woman to order at the bar. Or a man too! This is 2023 after all. And being a guy, I enjoy a nice spritzer after a rough night, and especially during brunch. Just enough alcohol to know it’s a drink, but not at all over powering.
Start with two parts of a good white wine (pinot grigio works particularly well) and finish with club soda. You’ll want the wine to be already chilled as there is no ice in this white wine drink, although that would be okay if you’re making these at home. You can even “upscale” this with a few fresh raspberries or strawberries as a colorful garnish.
The Drink: Use two parts chilled white wine. It doesn’t need to be expensive as it’s being mixed, but still something you’d drink by itself. Top off with one part club soda and garnish the way you see fit.
The original Margarita is not made in a margarita blender or frozen margarita machine. And although Margaritas come in all kinds of varieties, the classic or “authentic” margarita is made with tequila, Cointreau (a Triple Sec), and fresh squeezed lime juice served over ice with a salted rim and lime as a garnish in a rocks glass.
Of course this tasty classic can also comes frozen. For the beach bar crowd, there’s nothing like sipping on a delicious frozen margarita while sitting in a beach chair watching the waves and your trouble slowly melting away. You’ll need a frozen Margarita maker if you’re going to try to whip one up at home. In a bar, it’ll be served in a cool looking Margarita glass with a salted rim and a lime wedge for a garnish.
Authentic or frozen, you’ll be hard pressed to find someone who doesn’t enjoy a margarita! Just try to make your from scratch and not a margarita mix, you’ll definitely taste the difference!
The Drink: Use the 3:2:1 rule here. 3 Parts Tequila, 2 Parts Cointreau, 1 Part Freshly Squeezed Lime Juice. Garnish rim with salt and a lime wedge (both optional).
Go to any Sunday brunch and you’re most likely going to see Mimosas on every other table. Usually made with Champagne, cold orange juice and an orange slice as a garnish, this drink is not only an upscale beverage, but it’s also the perfect hang over “healer” that’s light, tasty and has a bit of vitamin C to help get you through those first few hours of the day. That’s why they are so popular at Sunday brunches.
In fact, most bars and restaurants will run specials knowing their clients are in need of a bit of “the hair of the dog” after a hard Saturday night. And you might get yours with a splash of triple sec to give it a bit more sweetness. Personally I ask for mine without it.
The Drink: Equal parts of Champagne and orange juice served in a champagne flute. Garnish with orange wheel. You can also substitute Champagne with Prosecco, or Cava.
Another for the Sunday brunch or work lunch crowd. The original drink, created somewhere in the mid-1900s was a concoction of sparkling Italian wine and peach puree, Prosecco and peach purée or nectar to be exact.
Today though, I usually see Bellinis made with Champagne and peach schnapps, but if you can get one with fresh peach puree, it really makes this drink very special. Bellinis are a little less sweet than a mimosa, and a great alternative for something that’s still on the lighter side and perfect for early drinking.
The Drink: (Original) 2 parts Prosecco and one part peach purée or nectar. Place peach puree on bottom of champagne flute and top off with Prosecco or champagne.
11. Bloody Mary
While we’re on the subject of Brunch, the other most ordered brunch drink is the Bloody Mary. Long thought of as another hangover cure, this cocktail is made from many different ingredients that resemble more of a meal than a drink. The alcohol of choice is vodka and it’s served in a highball glass with ice and a celery stick as a garnish. This particular one is a Smirnoff.
As far as the ingredients, a lot of bartenders want to keep their own recipes a secret. But you can try this at home as a base, then tweak until you get the proportions that you like the most.
It all starts with tomato juice, then add some horseradish, celery salt, a dash of regular salt, black pepper and Worcestershire sauce. I used to also add some freshly cut garlic, lemon and lime juice and a splash of hot sauce like Tabasco. Mix it all well! And yes, people who love Blood Mary’s loved the way I made them.
The Drink: Rim a pint glass with celery salt, fill the glass with ice. In a shaker, add a lemon and a lime wedge, vodka, tomato juice, horseradish, Tabasco, Worcestershire, black pepper, paprika, plus a pinch of celery salt along with ice and stir until mixed. Strain into pint glass and garnish with a celery stalk (optional).
12. White & Black Russians
These easy to make drinks look and taste great and are served in a rocks glass over ice. There are no garnishes for either. The first drink, the Black Russian, is made with vodka and Kahlua. It’s a great after dinner drink, especially for those of you who enjoy a good cup of coffee after dinner.
And if that’s a little to much, the White Russian is the same drink with a bit of heavy cream mixed in to give it a more “Bailey’s” type flavor. Again, very nice as an after dinner drink.
Or try an Iron Butterfly as a variation, this includes vodka, Kahlua and Baily’s all in on delicious drink!
The Drink: (Black) 2 ounces vodka, 1 ounce Kahlúa served over ice in a rocks glass – (White) 2 ounces vodka, 1 ounce Kahlúa and a splash heavy cream served over ice in a rocks glass.
For the beer lover who not only wants to drink the best beer in the world (yes, I am a huge Guinness fan!), but wants to have a truly “Upscale” beer that looks and tastes amazing, having a proper pint of Guinness that’s pulled correctly and given time to settle and form the perfect tan colored head, this is the beer for you.
Served in a pint glass, this almost black beer is a real upscale treat. And it is NOT as heavy as everyone says. But be careful if you’re buying bottles or cans. The cans are the closest thing you can get to a draft and they have a widget filled with nitrous oxide which is how Guinness gets its unique pour.
The bottles, called “old grand dads”, are much more bitter and don’t have nitrous oxide. Nor the awesome creaminess!
And if you still can’t hack the goodness, make a black and tan using half Guinness and a lager. Even though every time someone ordered one of them, I cringed a little inside!
The Drink: If you’re lucky enough to get this in a place that serves draft, a proper Guinness pint glass is all you need. Or the same glass, just pour from a can with a widget.
14. Long Island Ice Tea
Are your co-workers driving you crazy? Just a really bad blind date? Then it’s time to bring out the big gun that packs a serious punch, but still looks cool. This high alcohol content drink is made with 4 different alcohols including vodka, rum, gin, and tequila of your choice. You will also need triple sec, sweet and sour mix, a splash of cola, and if you need the garnish, use a lemon slice.
You’d think with so much going on in this drink it wouldn’t be tasty at all, but you’d be wrong. It really does taste like ice tea! And since there are so many ingredients, don’t hesitate to mix up the amounts of each to make your drink a little sweeter or more sour depending on your taste buds.
The Drink: Add equal parts of vodka, tequila, rum and gin. Add a splash of triple sec, sweet and sour mix, a splash of cola. Garnish with a cherry or lemon wedge.
15. Rum and Cranberry Juice
How is rum and cranberry juice an upscale drink you ask? Well, just look at the color. It’s such a beautiful drink. And it’s also light and refreshing. The simple ingredients make this a tasty option from the normal “low scale” drinks like rum and coke. I like it so much I wrote my own rum and cranberry recipe here.
The Drink: A shot of rum in a rocks glass filled with ice and topped off with cranberry juice. Add a cherry garnish to make it upscale.
16. Blanc Cassis
Blanc Cassis is another yummy drink that is super simple to make and is perfect for things like brunches, weddings and even baby showers. With only two ingredients, the bright red color is what really makes this drink pop and with a strawberry or cherry as a garnish, it’s presentation and taste make it a match for our list here. Give it a try if you like white wine drinks that aren’t overly sweet!
The Drink: Add one ounce creme de cassis to chilled glass and top off with white wine. Garnish with any red fruit you want, but I suggest either a strawberry or cherry for the best taste.
17. A Day at the Beach Cocktail
The name says it all, and if you’re going to be sipping cocktails at the beach or even in your backyard pool, why not be as Upscale as you can.
This coconut rum concoction is as delicious as its presentation. Using a bar spoon, drizzling a bit of grenadine on the top of this drink gives it a beautiful color bouquet.
The Drink: Fill a shaker with ice. Combine 1 oz of Rum, 1/2 oz of Amaretto, 4 oz of Orange Juice and shake well then pour into a drinks glass. Drizzle 1/2 oz of Grenadine on the top – by don’t stir, the Grenadine will sink to the bottom and create a varied color effect on the way down. Garnish with a wedge of Pineapple and a fresh Strawberry.
Do you think there’s a drink that really deserves a spot on the list, let me know in the comments and if I agree, I’ll include it in our list of upscale drinks. I’ll even give you a shout out!