The 80s were a truly iconic decade of history. The music, the culture, the hair, it really had it all. But how could you enjoy the night out as a New Romantic listening to Human League, properly? With some popular 80s cocktails of course!

From the Long Island Iced Tea, to the Woo Woo, to the Blue Lagoon, the drinks were a reflection of the time itself: colourful and spectacular!

Let's not waste anymore time and get into the groove with the 12 best cocktails from the 80s...

1. B52  

Bartender layering a B52 cocktail shot

If this was a list of the top 80s bands, then this may well be mentioned there too. With hits like 'Rock Lobster' and 'Love Shack', the B52s gave us all the party energy we needed. But let's talk about the popular 80s cocktail instead, considering we're a bartending school.

This famous layered cocktail somehow squeezed itself into most nights out, usually accompanied by a weirdly sticky bar. With a combination of Kahlua, Baileys and Cointreau, it was, and still is, a stupendously easy shot to take. No unwanted ethanol surprises, just pure sweetness and flavour! Plus, you got the pretty spectacle of a 3-coloured drink, so long as the bartender had a steady hand!

Once you're done shotting, 'hurry up and get your jukebox money', it's time to party the night away with those jerry curls!

Ingredients: Kahlua, Baileys, Cointreau

Retro rating: 8/10


2. Piña Colada  

Piña Colada

'Let me take you to a place, where membership's a smiling face'. I am, of course, referencing Wham's Club Tropicana - 'fun and sunshine, there's enough for everyone'. But what's the most Club Tropicana drink you can think of? There's probably a few, but most definitely the Piña Colada!

The Piña Colada seems to have never lost its magic, all these years on. That beautiful tropical taste of pineapple and coconut just can't seem to leave our heads. Whether it's frozen or unfrozen, it's a taste-bud tingling marriage of rum, coconut liqueur, lime juice, pineapple juice and coconut cream. It wins every...single...time.

Adorn it with an extravagant pineapple garnish and cocktail umbrella, and you're ready for the Copacabana with Lambada playing in the distance.

Sweet dreams are definitely made of these...

Ingredients: Light rum, coconut liqueur, fresh lime juice, pineapple juice, coconut cream

Retro rating: 7/10


3. Woo Woo 

Woo woo

At number 3 on our list is the Woo Woo. How much more 80s can we get here? Any list of popular cocktails from the 80s isn't worth their salt without the mention of the Woo Woo. And if Duran Duran proved anything, it's that things are better when you name them twice.

We bet the last time you had this 80s classic was probably in 1984 in a Soho club, listening to Material Girl. We're not wrong, are we? Anyway, the drink was a sweet delight. The perfect companion to any newly legal drinker and clubber. Not only was it a joy to sip, it wasn't going to get you paralytic in a matter of minutes. A no-brainer!

But what was it that made it so, so good? One word... peach schnapps. Peach schnapps was all the rage back then, entering the stage in 1984. And when it was paired with vodka and cranberry juice, it just made the Woo Woo a must must.

Frankie says relax, so do it and get the Woo Woo's in!

Ingredients: Vodka, peach schnapps, cranberry juice

Retro rating: 9/10


4. Blue Lagoon 

Blue Lagoon cocktail

Another 80s stunner, fit for any Thomas Cook package holiday off Teletext. Back when 'Life is Life' was the sound of the summer, the Lagoon featured as the drink of the summer. Sitting next to holiday makers and a portion of chips on a Mallorcan beach - what was not to love?

However, we think that looks can be deceiving with this one. The Blue Lagoon has been given a bad name, perhaps for its vibrant blue colour (like all blue cocktails). But this shouldn't take away from its flavour. If we're all being honest, we love a bit of Blue Lagoon, as a naughty treat. It's tangy, sweet and fizzy, just what we need to dance all night long (all night).

Admit it, you just can't get enough of the blue stuff!

Ingredients: Blue Curaçao, vodka, lemonade,

Retro rating: 8/10


5. Cosmopolitan 


For the Cosmopolitan, we want to take you back to New York City in the 1980's. You're in Studio 54 with who's who of whoever and dancing your behind off. Just as it's about to reach a Whitney Houston chorus, you look down and see a glistening red drink, garnished with an orange zest. It's... a Cosmopolitan.

A truly iconic drink, in all senses of the meaning. But in true 80s cocktails style, the 'Cosmo' always holds a special memory for those consuming it in that decade. It just always seems to invoke a great memory. Perhaps it's the well-balanced combination of vodka and orange liqueur? Or perhaps it's the necessity to only drink Cosmopolitans at special events? Whatever the reason, it's a fabulous drink with fabulous memories!

It ain't an 80s party until the Cosmopolitans are dragged out, so get the cocktail shaker ready!

Ingredients: Citron vodka, Cointreau, fresh lime juice, cranberry juice

Retro rating: 6/10


6. Tequila Sunrise 

Tequila Sunrise

You may not consider the Tequila Sunrise when it comes to famous drinks from this decade, but you'd be wrong. It's one of the best cocktails to make at home and comfortably fits into 80s culture. Much like the Blue Lagoon, its success comes from abroad and it's basically a quintessential 80s holiday drink!

Of course, it would be nothing without the dark arts of the grenadine. It's what gives the drink its 'sunrise' and adds the wow factor for Northern European tourists everywhere they're consumed. Mix in a little bit of Mexican spirit, top with some local fresh orange juice and you're essentially transported to La Isla Bonita.

With the Tequila Sunrise we also encourage outrageous garnishes, to match the outrageous hairstyles of the time. A fan flamingo in a maraschino cherry? Yes! How about completely unrelated wedge of pineapple balancing on the side? Definitely! Because one can never have enough gimmicks, so go loco with it...

Ingredients: Tequila, orange juice, grenadine

Retro rating: 6/10


7. Sex On The Beach  

Sex On The Beach mocktail

An alternative way to describe the cast of Baywatch, the Sex On The Beach really does transport us back to this amazing decade. Created in the early 80s, one inspired bartender decided to combine a Fuzzy Naval and Cape Cobbler together. The result? This delicious fruity, summery cocktail with a little alcoholic kick.

It may not be so popular anymore, with bartenders deciding to abandon it for 'classier' cocktails, but it still holds a special place in our hearts. Your best bet at finding a Sex On The Beach these days is somewhere abroad. Greece or Spain should do it. Find a little family bar on the local strip during happy hour. Open up the sticky, worn out cocktail menu and order yourself this little red devil. We can't guarantee it'll be the exact recipe, but who needs precision anyway?

Ingredients: Vodka, peach schnapps, cranberry juice, orange juice

Retro rating: 8/10


8. Slippery Nipple 

Slippery Nipple cocktail shot

Ebony and Ivory live together in perfect harmony, said Paul and Stevie, as does Sambuca and Baileys! As famously retro as a powdered sour mix, the Slippery Nipple was one of the most popular cocktails in the 80s. And what's great about this one is that you don't have to be a Sambuca lover to enjoy it. Once paired with the Irish cream, it calms any harsh liquorice flavours, so it's easy to enjoy!

Of course there is some science behind the Slippery Nipple. You can't just be throwing in the ingredients in whichever order you wish. To get it right, you have to abide by some rules of physics. Density is the reason why it all works. By pouring the Baileys last, you're able to float it on top of the Sambuca. By doing it the opposite way, you risk mixing and curdling - and it'll all be completely ruined.

So, just stick to the recipe and method, and no funny business. We don't need anything resembling a Monkey Brain Shot.

Ingredients: Sambuca, Baileys

Retro rating: 9/10


9. Screaming Orgasm

Screaming Orgasm cocktail

Usually accompanied by a small blush when ordering, the Screaming Orgasm screams 80s like nothing else. And just like Sam Fox, you don't really hear much about the drink anymore, but it's always been quite a hit with the 80s crowd.

The vodka, coffee liqueur, amaretto, Baileys and milk come together as a beautiful symphony of flavours and the result is a creamy, coffee, nutty treat, best enjoyed next to a crackling vinyl player.

If you're wondering about the name, the origins of this drink is hard to pin down and we can only ask you to use your imaginations when thinking about it. But don't go too far, we wouldn't want you to hurt yourself...

Ingredients: Vodka, Kahlua, amaretto, Baileys, milk

Retro rating: 9/10


10. Buck’s Fizz 


'You gotta speed it up and then you gotta slow it down'. Remember those lyrics? That was the UK's winning Eurovision entry in 1981 and we all know it well! Whether it was the lyrics, jumpers, bouncy hair or that infamous skirt moment you liked best, there was only one drink that could satisfy a celebratory occasion like this... the Buck's Fizz!

With only two ingredients, it's definitely one of the easiest cocktails for beginners. The orange juice and Champagne complement each other beautifully. The sparkling wine gives it a fizz and a kick, whereas the orange juice soothes and sweetens, just like Johnny Logan's face. Perfection!

If this sounds familiar to you, you might be confusing it with the Mimosa. So how have we ended up with two drinks that are basically the same? It's all about the measures, you see. Mimosas take less alcohol, than a Buck's Fizz. And if you haven't guessed yet, the latter is the British creation...

Ingredients: Orange juice, Champagne or sparkling wine

Retro rating: 8/10


11. Snowball

Snowball cocktail

Is there a better way to enjoy yourself in an Austrian log cabin than with George Michael to your left, and a Snowball to your right? Just like heaven, right?

The Snowball is most certainly an 80s cocktail, and unfortunately, it really struggled to leave the decade successfully. What was once the hot new Christmas drink, has been resigned to the back of the cupboard along with those pink shell sinks your nan had (gross!).

But we think this is harsh on the Snowball. It's the drink that everyone secretly loves, despite the eggy presence. The fact of the matter is, the Snowball is still just as popular, it's just not cool enough for the 21st century.

Shame on you all for not professing your love for this Christmas classic more! #SaveTheSnowball

Ingredients: Advocaat, lemonade, fresh lemon juice

Retro rating: 9/10


12. Long Island Iced Tea

Long Island Iced Tea

We've come to the end of our best 80s themed cocktails, and we've been transported to the Berlin Wall in 1989. Yes, just like the Hoff warbling next to the Wall in his fairy light-covered black jacket - we're going out with a bang!

The Long Island Iced Tea is a bit of a crazy drink. If somebody showed you the drink's ingredients, you'd be forgiven to think it was a 4am creation straight out of freshers' week. In fact, the only reason this drink retains any respectability is because of the lemon juice and sugar syrup. Now it's classy!

Nevertheless, it's going to give you a good time, whilst leaving your head 'spinning right round like a record baby, right round, round, round...'

Ingredients: Vodka, light rum, gin, tequila, Cointreau, fresh lemon juice, sugar syrup, Coca Cola

Retro rating: 7/10

Discover how to make your own simple syrup for cocktails in just 10 minutes. 

Do you want to master a delicious drink from the 80s? Or to get intimate with peach schnapps, orange juice and pineapple juice yourself? Look into our bartender course to start your journey...