The Classic: Moscow Mule
The Twist: Kentucky Mule, $10
Find It Here: Crop Bistro and Bar, 2537 Lorain Ave., Cleveland, 216-696-2767, cropbistro.com
Why We Love It: Whiskey is the new vodka. For a very 2015 take on this Russian favorite, the Kentucky Mule sticks to its roots of lime and ginger but takes it up a level by using a house-made, unfiltered ginger beer, fresh lime juice, a dash of Angostura bitters and smoky Bulleit bourbon. "Everyone's been on a bourbon and whiskey kick lately it seems," says bartender Russell Whisenaut III.
The Classic: Gin Fizz
The Twist: Old City Soda Fizz, $10
Find It Here: Dante, 2247 Professor Ave., Cleveland, 216-274-1200, dante.danteboccuzzi.com
Why We Love It: This drink is all about balance and complementary flavors, which starts with hometown favorite Mike Gulley's grapefruit Old City Soda, tarragon and St. Germain. "Watershed [gin] uses grapefruit peels as one of their botanicals, so it's kind of a natural pairing," explains bar manager
The Classic: Gimlet
The Twist: Ginger Gimlet, $9.50
Find It Here: Thyme2 Pub and Fine Dining, 113 W. Smith Road, Medina, 330-764-4114, thymetherestaurant.com
Why We Love It: A traditional gimlet is made with gin and sweetened (usually artificial) lime juice. This version is its pretty cousin, featuring pure, unadulterated lime juice and a house-made ginger simple syrup that uses fresh-grated ginger and spices. "It's just magic if you like ginger," says bartender Justin Hartle.
The Classic: Whiskey Sour
The Twist: The Kilbane, $10
Find It Here: Speakeasy, 1948 W. 25th St., Cleveland, 216-274-101, speakeasy216.com
Why We Love It: Taking its name from the late Sean Kilbane of Happy Dog and 1920s Cleveland boxing legend Johnny Kilbane, this cocktail is what you'd get if you combined a whiskey sour with a whiskey ginger ale (made in-house with Domaine de Canton ginger-flavored liqueur, raw sugar syrup and Aperol). "We're tempted to compare it to a really good sweet tea," says bartender Chris McDonald, "but you know, with booze in it."
The Classic: Rum Punch
The Twist: Apricot Rum Punch, $11
Find It Here: Rockefeller's, 3099 Mayfield Road, Cleveland Heights, 216-321-0477, rockefellerscleveland.com
Why We Love It: Usually loaded with sugar, this variation made with Kraken black spiced rum, a dash of simple syrup and sweet apricot brandy swaps in orange spice tea and fresh lemon juice in place of the standard sticky-sweet fruit mixers. "I wanted to give it a rum flavor, but not lose it in the synthetic flavor of the juices," says bartender Mark Goyetche.
The Classic: Cosmopolitan
The Twist: Peach Cosmo, $11
Find It Here: Holy Craft, 1276 W. Sixth St., Cleveland, 216-696-0666, holycraftcleveland.com
Why We Love It: While this West Sixth Street spot is known more for its long draft list, cocktail lovers can still join in the fun. "Being that we are a restaurant with 40 draft beer options, we decided that we should have some slightly familiar cocktails available," says chef Danny Maline. Try this unpretentious drink made with Ciroc Peach vodka, Grand Marnier, cranberry juice and lime. "It's a little bit different, but not too far-fetched," he says.