Bartenders and beverage directors are increasingly serving up ‘gram-worthy drinks, pushing the envelope on everything from the containers beverages are served in to the ice cubes that keep them cool.
The United States is home to hundreds of such cocktails, featuring rubber ducky toppers, smoky liquid nitrogen, rice paper art and more. From east to west, across many major cities, here are some of the most Instagram-worthy cocktails to order ASAP.
Go for the photo, stay for the buzz.
‘Popcorn Anyone?’ @ Magic Hour, New York City
Drink straight out of a classic popcorn bucket at New York City’s Magic Hour, the trendy rooftop bar atop the Moxy Hotel near Times Square.
Designed for up to nine guests, the Popcorn Anyone? is filled with the bar’s Berry Bubbly cocktail from its regular (i.e. individual-sized) cocktail menu. The drink is made with Belvedere Wild Berry, framboise and Prosecco. Butter not included.
'If Can, Can' @ The Myna Bird Tiki Bar, Waikiki, Hawaii
The Myna Bird Tiki Bar in Waikiki puts a new spin on the classic Mai Tai with this concoction served in, yes, a SPAM can — a nod to Hawaii’s beloved meat product.
But don’t worry, no SPAM is actually included in the ingredients list. This Mai Tai is made with Bacardi Ocho, orange curacao, pineapple, lilikoi, lime and orgeat syrup.
‘Watermelon Margarita Piñata’ @ Taco Electrico, New York City
From spam cans to popcorn buckets, the unique cocktail containers on this list keep getting crazier...and more Instagrammable.
The Watermelon Margarita Piñata – made with watermelon juice, Casamigos Blanco tequila, Cointreau, lime juice and agave – is served in a sombrero-shaped piñata for up to 10 guests. It is perhaps the most memorable container of all, and a true showstopper.
‘Durga Complex’ @ The Bombay Bread Bar, New York City
The Durga Complex is a beautiful floral arrangement cocktail, made with mezcal, chartreuse, sorel-honey, orange blossom and chili. It’s then generously topped with dried flowers and a dried orange slice, making it almost too pretty to drink – but definitely not too pretty for the ‘gram.
‘Strawberry Shortcake’ @ Apothecary, Ft. Lauderdale, Florida
If you’re into the idea of cocktails served at a pizzeria, look no further than Apothecary, a speakeasy-style cocktail club situated within the walls of Pizza Craft Pizzeria in downtown Ft. Lauderdale.
The bar serves up unusual and aesthetically appealing drinks, from a menu that is ever-changing. The standout Strawberry Shortcake cocktail comes complete with a strawberry-shortcake ice-cream pop, taking the “boozy popsicles” trend to the next level.
‘Bourbon Milkshake’ @ Whiskey Dry, Louisville, Kentucky
James Beard-nominated chef Ed Lee recently opened Whiskey Dry in Downtown Louisville. One of his most popular concoctions is the Boozy Bourbon Milkshake, incorporating chocolate, banana, whipped cream, toasted marshmallow, cocoa nibs and of course, bourbon!
Tasting as rich and delicious as it sounds, this dessert cocktail also makes for a great photo-op.
'Merica Root Beer Float’ @ Parlay at Joy District, Chicago
If there’s a more patriotic cocktail than this, we don’t know what it is.
Root beer and whiskey are poured over vanilla ice cream, served in a mug rimmed with caramel and rainbow sprinkles, garnished with apple pie "a la mode” and whipped cream, and topped with an American flag and a baseball card.
‘Gram it to show your pride for the U.S.A.
‘Tasteful Noodz’ @ PABU Izakaya, San Francisco
The Tasteful Noodz, a play on typical Japanese ramen, is served in a ramen bowl and topped with rice-paper art evoking noodles, a marinated soft-boiled egg and chasu pork.
To the eye, it looks like real ramen – but it tastes nothing like slurping noodles. Reminiscent of a whiskey sour, the Tasteful Noodz is actually made with Iwai blended whiskey, chicken ramen syrup, lemon, cynar 70 and mirin.
‘Brunch for Two’ @ Party Fowl Nashville, Tennessee
“Brunch for Two” is perhaps the most Southern cocktail that’s ever been concocted — and we absolutely mean that as a compliment. The drink is a 55 oz. Bloody Mary that’s topped with two whole fried Cornish game hens, two scotch eggs, eight fried okra and one whole avocado.
Pro tip: Only a handful of these are made during brunch and they go fast, so go early and order quick.
‘Cotton Candy Martini’ @ Café 21, San Diego
A trendsetting eatery and lounge in the historic Gaslamp Quarter, Café 21 serves organic farm-to-bar cocktails with a creative approach. Among the most memorable is the Cotton Candy Martini, ideal for the adventurous drinker.
The Cosmopolitan is crafted with vodka, lemon, simple syrup and fresh fruit puree, then topped with real cotton candy. It’s part beverage, part nostalgic sweet snack.
I|O Godfrey, Chicago
At the indoor-outdoor rooftop lounge at The Godfrey Hotel Chicago, executive Chef Nathaniel Cayer masterminds cocktails made by mixology-trained chefs in the kitchen. These complex, creative drinks include the photo-worthy Rainbow Sangria.
The drink features rainbow-colored ice cubes made from frozen, fresh-squeezed fruit juices and floral extracts. A simple mix of Grey Goose and Moscato is poured on top of the cubes, allowing guests to enjoy the evolving flavors of the drink as the ice melts.
‘Holy Flamingo!’ @ The Nest at Thompson Seattle
This showstopper on the menu of the Nest rooftop bar arrives in an ornate copper flamingo and contains a spirituous medley of vodka, rum, cognac, pineapple, lime juice, rooibos honey syrup and Perriet Jouet Brut.
The Nest hovers above the urban hustle of Pike Place Market and Seattle’s downtown, with heart-stopping views of Elliott Bay and the Olympic Mountain Range beyond — making it the only place that truly captures the unfolding drama of the city.
‘Red Light Negroni’ @ Tipsy Alchemist, Dallas (and other locations)
The original Negroni recipe calls for gin, Campari and sweet vermouth. The Red Light Negroni adds a twist by using the Dutch spirit Genever, a cheeky homage to Amsterdam’s Red Light District. The drink is served in a hollowed-out lightbulb which, when filled with the liquid, turns into a “red light.”
The Red Light Negroni can also be found at Bagatelle, New York City; Cosmopolitan, Las Vegas; The Loyalist, Chicago; and Union Lodge, Denver.
‘Voodoo Cocktails’ @ Grant Grill, San Diego
Known for shaking up San Diego’s cocktail scene, Grant Grill’s talented Chef de Bar, Cory Alberto, recently debuted the creative Voodoo cocktail menu. Based around voodoo culture and its Haitian roots, the seasonal menu also provides a charitable tie-in – Grant Grill will donate $1 from each cocktail to Hope for Haiti.
Cocktail highlights include the Lucky Alligator Tooth, made with Rogue Spirits Voodoo Vodka, Chartreuse and Lillet; and The Haitian Gentleman, featuring Rhum Barbancourt 15-year old Haitian rum, créme de cacao and R&D smoked bitters.
‘Unleash the Dragon’ @ DaDong New York, New York City
This fantastically named cocktail attracts not only great luck, but attention. Liquid nitrogen is swirled into the chemical flask it’s served in, providing a smoky, bubbling effect.
The drink features Dry Rye Reposado Gin and Plantation OFTD Overproof Rum infused with mint and pineapple for a tropical taste. Thanks to its extra-large size, the cocktail is best enjoyed by two.
‘Nonna’s Mule’ @ Zucca Miami
An Italian twist on the classic Moscow Mule, this craft cocktail features grappa instead of vodka, plus watermelon, lemongrass, ginger and a splash of grapefruit soda.
Served in a mini copper cooking pot and garnished with a dehydrated lime wheel and edible flowers, the Nonna’s Mule checks off all the Instagram-worthy boxes. Nonna would be proud.
‘Mr. Nice Guy’ @ Madison on Park, San Diego
Mr. Nice Guy, with its tropical flavors, hints of citrus and silky dryness, is an undeniably satisfying drink. But it’s best known for one particular ingredient: cannabis.
The drink features cannabidiol oil mixed with mezcal, matcha, pineapple, coconut milk and lime. For added flourish, it comes topped with a cannabis leaf.
You can order the drink at Madison at Park, located in the hip University Heights neighborhood.
‘Holi Bhang’ @ Mortar & Pestle Bar, San Jose, California
This drink was inspired, in part, by a childhood treat.
The colorful cocktail — featuring coconut ghee-washed Indian rum and rye, fennel syrup, lemon- and coriander-infused orange bitters, and frothy vegan aqua faba — comes topped with crushed crunchberry cereal. The flourish is a nod to Holi, the Indian festival of colors for which the cocktail was named.
‘Origin of Pander’ @ The Broken Shaker, Miami
The Broken Shaker at The Freehand in Miami puts a special twist on the classic “Miami Vice” cocktail.
Citrus-infused rum, strawberry-infused Pedro Ximenez sherry, Bols genever, pineapple, lime and pandan-coconut cream are served in a massive round bowl and garnished with generous fruit slices. The result? A good-vibe cocktail that’s perfect for summer Instagramming.
‘The Lumiere’ @ Deer Path Inn, Lake Forest, Illinois
Featuring green chartreuse, Monkey 47 Gin, fresh lemon juice and fresh ginger, the Lumiere cocktail is just as fun to drink as it is to Instagram — the drink is charged with an electric current that temporarily numbs the mouth, producing a tingling sensation.
‘Bee’s Sneeze’ @ The Bar at the Spectator Hotel, Charleston, South Carolina
This elegant concoction combines an egg white base with orange blossom, rosewater, Ransom Old Tom Gin, fresh lemon juice and lavender-infused Charleston Bees Honey.
Topped with edible flowers and a light spritz of edible perfume, the drink is as fragrant as it is aesthetically pleasing and delicious.
‘Miami Vice’ @ The Roof at Park South, New York City
Why choose between a piña colada and a strawberry daiquiri when you can have both?
This drink combines equal parts of both frozen favorites, producing a colorful rum treat that’s then topped with a tropical flower and fresh strawberry. The result is begging to be Instagrammed.
‘Movin’ On Up’ @ Hearth & Dram, Denver
For an easy $350, you can purchase this indulgent drink featuring the best whisk(e)y has to offer with Bainbridge Organic Distillers’ Yama Mizunara Cask, Yellow VEP Chartreuse, Pedro Ximénez XO Sherry, Leopold Bros. Absinthe Verte and Green VEP Chartreuse.
Oh, and a 24-karat gold-dipped cherry.
‘Rubber Ducky’ @ Elm City Social, New Haven, Connecticut
Basil, grapefruit, lemon, sparkling water and gin infused with Citra hops are the ingredients in this whimsical favorite. A small rubber duck served with the cocktail provides an undeniably cute touch.
As guests are encouraged to take their rubber ducky home, it’s no wonder the drink is one of the restaurant’s most ordered.
‘Smoked Mai Tai’ @ The Vinoy Renaissance, Downtown St. Petersburg, Florida
At Paul's Landing, the restaurant at the historic Vinoy Renaissance, mixologists stir up an array of delightfully photogenic cocktails for guests and locals alike.
For the ultimate Insta-video, behold the Smoked Mai Tai, a classic and elegant rum cocktail smoked inside a mini wooden barrel right on the bar.