Craft cocktails have boomed in popularity over the last few years, with more bars offering exceedingly creative concoctions on their menus that become an entire experience or a beverage that ends up looking like a work of art. Cruise ships are putting their own spin on the trend, serving creative, immersive, and just plain unique cocktails onboard.
We love a good reason to sip an even better cocktail (or two) while at sea. Here are our favorite cruise ship craft cocktails. Drink up because you'll be hard-pressed to get your hands on them once you reach dry land.
Where to order: Fortune Teller Bar, on Carnival Mardi Gras
What’s in it? Herradura Silver tequila, Chartreuse, agave nectar and lime
This theatrical cocktail is offered in one of the ship's sexier bars, and, trust us, the anticipation is worth the wait. As it's poured, the bartender creates a bubble that rises, rises, rises until -- pop! -- it disappears into a puff of smoke. We're not the only ones who think this cocktail is magic, Carnival is quick to admit that it was an instant hit with their guests.
Where to order: Shipwide on Royal Caribbean
What’s in it? Aperol, prosecco and passionfruit
Not quite sold on the bitter taste of a traditional Aperol spritz? Consider Royal Caribbean's new Passion Spritz your well-balanced alternative. By adding passionfruit to the mix, it takes the edge off the Aperol, but not to the point where it’s too sweet. We tried it in Italy at Harmony of the Seas' Trellis Bar and found it to have just the perfect note of sharpness.
Where to order: The S.A.L.T. Bar, on Silversea's Silver Moon
What’s in it? Gin, maraschino liqueur, fresh lemon juice, peach bitters, rue berry and citrus smoke
Selene, The Moon is as much about flair and presentation as it is about taste, though it does taste wonderful. This concoction relies on local spirits (we tried it in Greece with a fantastic local botanical gin) that are perfectly blended to create a not-too-sweet craft cocktail. The final touch? A smoke-filled bubble that sits atop, waiting to be popped. It’s a fun-to-drink conversation piece.
Where to order: Pink Agave, on Virgin Voyages' Scarlet Lady
What’s in it? Montelobos mezcal, Ancho Reyes chile liqueur, citrus and crickets
It's not often that your cocktail comes dusted with insects. With the Scarlet Lady's "It's Crickets in Here" cocktail, the drink is finished with a sprinkling crunchy cricket dust that lends an authentic Mexican touch to this drink. But, we have to say, personally, we liked it even better without the grillo, so don't be afraid to ask them to hold the crickets -- it's still a great drink.
Where to get a taste? Eden, on Celebrity Edge
What’s in it? Woodford Reserve, honey, a large ice cube, garnished with sage and thyme
We love a good concept drink, and grabbing a Garden at Eden doesn't disappoint. The visual of the drink is very apropos, garnished with sage and thyme, but the presentation is also worth paying attention to. This drink is poured from a tin watering can over a giant ice cube. Furthermore, the taste rivals the presentation in quality, with the ingredients delivering a bittersweet flavor that could tempt even the most finicky of cocktail enthusiasts.
Where to order: Main bar, on Uniworld’s S.S. Sao Gabriel
What’s in it? White port, spicy rum, mint leaves, fresh lime juice
When you’re cruising the Douro River, it’s impossible to escape Portugal’s famous port wine. We love port and we love cocktails -- but we didn't know that the two of them could be mixed together into something even more delightful. The Sao Gabriel Douro Passion mixes white port with spicy rum, plus fresh mint and lime juice, resulting in a tasty tipple that resembles a different take on a mojito.
Where to order: Sail & Sustain Bar, on Norwegian Encore
What’s in it? Tequila, passion fruit, pineapple juice, pineapple peel, turmeric honey
This refreshing concoction makes delicious use of pineapple peel that would otherwise be discarded but instead is served up as an outdoor libation. We happily sipped this at the Sail and Sustain Bar while aboard Norwegian Encore. Well-balanced, this isn't your typical fruity summer drink; the tequila and turmeric honey help tame the natural acidity from the pineapple juice and add a smoothness missing from most pineapple-based beverages.
What’s in it? Effen vodka, Baileys salted caramel liqueur, Godiva milk chocolate liqueur, and Remy VSOP for garnish.
The decadent and sweet Alexander makes it easy to ditch dessert in the dining room in favor for a luxe after-dinner cocktail. You'll feel like royalty as you sip this dolce cocktail, served on a silver platter and topped off with a chocolate marshmallow nest and gentle spritzing of Remy Martin VSOP from a crystal diffuser just before you imbibe.
What’s in it? Monkey Shoulder Blended Scotch Whiskey, Old Fashioned bitters, chili and pineapple reduction and a cinnamon stick for garnish.
Looking to liven up your taste buds? The Virgo delivers just the right balance of sweetness and heat thanks to its chili and pineapple reduction, while the bitters brings out the warm spice and floral notes in the scotch. It’s a perfect drink to get ready for dinner or wind down for the night.
What’s in it? 3 Queens Gin 'Queen Mary 2', Rose syrup, fresh lemon, prosecco.
Cocktails from Cunard’s Gin & Fizz bar menu have hopped both the experiential cocktail trend and the resurgence in the popularity of gin. The Mary Rose is a gorgeous drink named after a Tudor warship under King Henry VIII. Served in a coup, this rich royal-red drink is garnished with small rosebuds and a dollop of homemade meringue. Did we mention it’s as delicious as it is gorgeous?
What’s in it? Fresh grapes, agave, lemon juice, Hendricks, St. Germain, Pinot Noir, and orange twist for garnish.
Aptly named, this cocktail is perfect for a quick sip when you just want to take a break onboard and appreciate your surroundings. Fresh grapes are muddled with just the right amount of agave and lemon to balance flavor before adding fresh ice and mixing with gin and St. Germain. For the finale, the drink is strained over a flute and then given a colorful pinot noir topper and orange twist, abstractly resembling a deconstructed sunset.
Where to order: Avenue Salon, on Crystal Symphony and Crystal Serenity
What’s in it? Woodford Reserve Bourbon, Carpano Antica Vermouth, Cynar Amaro, angostura and bitters.
You may order this cocktail at the bar, but we love knowing that it's been waiting for us. Crystal's Signature Manhattan takes weeks to come into fruition. Long before you set foot on the ship, this cocktail has started infusing behind the bar. A blend of whiskey, bitters, amaro and vermouth are rested together inside of a medium-toasted oak barrel to give you a balanced, smooth and complex Manhattan. The fact that it's complimentary? Well, that's just the cherry on top.
Updated November 10, 2021