The Favorite Cocktails Of 9 Celebrity Chefs

It's fun to learn what your favorite celebrity chefs love to eat and drink. After all, we watch them to find out the inside scoop on lots of foody-type things: What's the best and tastiest dishes, what fresh ingredients they use, kitchen tools they have, grocery store brands, and, of course, the variety of cocktails celebrity chefs enjoy. Their responses are frequently obvious, but occasionally they surprise us — especially when it comes to drinks. Who knew David Chang was so enthusiastic about Bud Light? Of course Giadia De Laurentiis loves sipping a sparkly, Italian amaro cocktail! 


Learning about the cocktail preferences of celebrity chefs can also help us learn more about ways we can create our own cocktails — or modify existing ones. Many of you might be amateur mixologists, and you are probably pretty decent about pairing mixers with alcohol and figuring out what garnishes work well with fruity cocktails versus spicy ones. Taking creative risks can help everyone up their cocktail game. Or just help you perfect that classic Negroni you've been working on — by the way, the Negroni = a favorite of Anthony Bourdain.

Ina Garten: Whiskey Sour

Ina Garten loves making cocktails that can be shared with friends and family. And she helped carry us through the pandemic with her massive cosmopolitans. "During a crisis, you know, cocktail hour can be almost any hour," became the rallying cry of many, thanks to her viral instagram video. But the Barefoot Contessa has been known to kick back personally with a tart Whiskey Sour. This classic cocktail, with its sweet and sour profile, is perfect for garden parties at Garten's East Hampton home or evenings in front of the fireplace. 


Garten's favorite summer cocktail is made with whiskey, lemon, lime, and simple syrup. According to the recipe on Garten's Barefoot Contessa website, she uses Jack Daniels Tennessee Whiskey and garnishes with Maraschino cherries. But you can use any bourbon you prefer — and this is a place where you can play around with flavors. Want more vanilla? Prefer a smokier undertone? Go to town. Other versions of a Whiskey Sour can include a frothy egg white topping.

Gordon Ramsay: Wake Up, You Donkey

The boisterous Gordon Ramsay's favorite cocktail has a curious name. Called Wake Up, You Donkey, the drink is inspired by the colorful verbiage frequently employed by Ramsay on his television shows. In 2016, Ramsay appeared on "The Tonight Show Starring Jimmy Fallon" and shared the name of this favorite cocktail. It's called Wake Up You Donkey, which is appropriate given that "donkey" is an insult Ramsay tells participants in his shows when they make mistakes in the kitchen. 


The cocktail is made of "the most amazing tequila" along with cider, honey, and elderflower. Then it's garnished with lime. The thing that's pretty cool about this cocktail is the color — who doesn't love a drink that's kind of green? You used to be able to get it at Ramsay's Pub & Grill in Atlantic City, but as of 2024, there isn't anything on the beverage menu there that resembles Wake Up Your Donkey — so here's a call to create your own.

Giada De Laurentiis: Italian Amaro Cocktail

Giada De Laurentiis loves an amaro cocktail and calls them "soda for grown-ups." The Italian chef is known for her classic Italian cooking that emphasizes fresh, seasonal herbs and flavors, and her cocktails are no different. On Instagram and her website, De Laurentiis shared her recipe for this drink, which consists of bitter amaro liqueur, lime, and ginger ale. "Amaro, ginger ale, and lime come together to make a combination that tastes a lot like a grown-up soda ... this is one of my favorites!" 


While De Laurentiis recommends an amaro such as Cynar or St. Agrestis, you can obviously choose your own. There are so many excellent amaros out there now that Americans have finally discovered what Italians have known all along. And you can make your own! Amaro is made by infusing any over-proof clear alcohol (like Everclear) with herbs, flowers, sugar, spices, and other regional ingredients and then letting it steep for a few weeks or longer.

This cocktail is heartier and has more bitters than its cousin, the Aperol Spritz — another great drink that uses amaro but brightens them up with Prosecco and sparkling water. Amaro helps you digest. And ginger ale is also known to help settle the stomach. The amaro and ginger ale in this De Laurentiis cocktail make it perfect for after dinner. 


Anthony Bourdain: Negroni

Anthony Bourdain's reputation for traveling everywhere and trying everything — truly believing in the power of food and drink to bring people together — is still with us today. But he definitely had his favorites, and his favorite drink was a Negroni. He even called it "the perfect drink" — "It's three liquors that I'm not particularly interested in ... but put them together with a slice of orange. It works," he told Barron's in 2016. 


Those three liquors — gin, sweet vermouth, and Campari — are the ingredients for a classic Negroni. The bitter Campari lends bite to the herbaceousness of the gin and the sweetness of the vermouth. With the orange, citrus is introduced. It's definitely not a cocktail for everyone, but it remains popular on cocktail menus all across the world. The story behind the legendary drink is probably not unlike many cocktail origin tales — someone wanted something a bit stronger. It just happened that this someone was Count Camilo Negroni and the year was 1919 in Florence, Italy — which somehow gives everything a bit more magic and romance. The count asked his bartender friend to give his drink a bigger kick — and the bartender obliged, switching up soda water for gin.


Julia Child: Upside-Down Martini

Julia Child changed the way people think about women in the kitchen. She was a true original — and her favorite cocktail was a riff on an original. Child enjoyed an Upside-Down Martini (also known as a Reverse Martini), which is a martini that calls for the proportions to be reversed. Instead of five parts vodka or gin to one part vermouth, you would measure out five parts vermouth to one part gin or vodka. This makes the martini sweeter. Julia's preferred style was with gin, extra dry vermouth, and a twisted lemon peel. 


Child was responsible for bringing what seemed like a terrifyingly difficult form of cooking to the American public. She gave them recipes for French cuisine in a cookbook that is still influential and consulted in households and restaurants alike. So trust Julia Child as well when it comes to cocktails and take a chance on this martini. It might become your favorite version. 

David Chang: Bud Light

Let's face it. Some chefs can be very particular about their beverage of choice. It doesn't sound quite right for a celebrity chef to explain that their favorite drink is something that is routinely made fun of not only in cooking circles but in general public. Yes, people love light beer. Yes, there are jokes about it. But Momofuku restaurant group founder David Chang does not care about the jokes, and he is passionate about so-called low-brow beer


In an essay for "GQ," Chang said his favorite drink was Bud Light: "But there's no beverage that I've drunk more of in my life than Bud Light ... And there's no drink I love more." Chang continues to praise Bud Light and its companion light beers such as Singha, Tecate, and Miller High Life, arguing, "Cheap beer is, no joke, the champagne of beers. And cheap beer and spicy food go together like nothing else." 

Bobby Flay: Sbagliato

On Bobby Flay's podcast "Always Hungry with Bobby Flay and Sophie Flay," he and his daughter chatted about their favorite cocktails, and Flay shared that he enjoys a sbagliato. This is basically a Negroni with Prosecco in place of gin. The sbagliato was reportedly created in the 1980s in Milan by Mirko Stocchetti after mistakenly adding sparkling wine to a customer's Negroni instead of gin. Sbagliato means "mistaken" or "messed up" — but this newly fizzy cocktail was a happy accident and has since grown in popularity. 


The sbagliato has even received the meme treatment after a memorable interview with "House of the Dragon" stars Emma D'Arcy and Olivia Cooke. D'Arcy shared that their drink of choice is "a Negroni" and then added "sbagliato ... with Prosecco." D'Arcy gave their answer in such a fun way that the internet was making memes with the quote — and a new generation was flocking to bars ordering Negroni sbagliatos.

Rachael Ray: Gin Martini

Rachael Ray loves a gin martini. She says her favorite is her husband John Cusamano's version, which is made with Castelvetrano olives and orange bitters. "He just makes a fantastic martini," she enthused during an interview with Tasting Table. The addition of the olives would give this style of martini the brininess of a dirty martini while the orange bitters would brighten things up a bit. 


Castelvetrano olives are Sicilian, grown in the valley of Belice, and they are nutty, mild, buttery, and firmer than other olives. (Typically, olives included in martinis are Spanish queen olives with that lovely red pimento tucked inside.) Castelvetrano olives are also a favorite of Giada De Laurentiis, who uses them in a ton of her recipes. With the orange bitters and Sicilian olives, this gin martini would make you feel right at home in the Mediterranean if you don't want a Negroni or Aperol spritz. 

Martha Stewart: Lemon Drop

Martha Stewart, queen of the thirst trap, drinks a lemon drop martini to quench her thirst. This classic cocktail is her favorite, and she personalizes it with specialized ingredients: a Meyer lemon and Polish Belvedere vodka. Stewart shared her lemon drop preferences on Today, adding that she also likes orange-flavored Cointreau and adds lemon-flavored simple syrup. 


Whether as a garnish or an ingredient, lemons, limes, oranges and other citrus fruits can add a fruity and tart complement to all kinds of spirits. Meyer lemons in particular add more sweetness than other lemons. That's because it's thought to be a hybrid fruit, a cross between a citron and mandarin orange. These lemons are less acidic as well, which makes them perfect for cocktails — and desserts. In fact, Stewart frequently uses Meyer lemons in many of her dessert recipes such as coffee cake, pound cake, tarts, and cupcakes.