As the drinker’s spirit encourages us, “It’s five o’clock somewhere.” Although other areas of male culture and behavior like fashion and grooming are a moving target and evolve constantly, liquor and spirits have proven to be something that can continually be passed on from generation to generation because there’s simply no need to improve upon a classic.
While mixologists have certainly looked to elevate tried-and-true ingredients like whiskey, bourbon, gin, and vodka using aromatics and techniques that seem more reserved for the operating table than the bar top, men and women alike should also have the skills necessary to present a classic cocktail with little fuss.
Here are eight cocktail recipes every Highsnob man should master.
What you need: 2 oz. rye whiskey or bourbon, 1 oz. Italian sweet vermouth, two dashes Angostura Bitters.
What to do: Stir the rye, vermouth and bitters well with ice. Strain into in a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a maraschino cherry.
The Manhattan is the most popular drink that is named after one of New York City’s five boroughs – headlining the Brooklyn which consists of rye, dry vermouth, maraschino liqueur and Amer Picon, the Bronx which has gin, vermouth and orange juice; the Queens which satiates the needs of enthusiasts of gin, vermouth and pineapple juice; and the Staten Island which has Malibu rum and pineapple juice.
Featured prominently in The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks – a 1948 book about cocktails by David A. Embury – the Manhattan encompasses each tenet which includes that it should be made from good-quality, high-proof liquors, it should whet rather than dull the appetite, it should be dry, with sufficient alcoholic flavor, yet smooth and pleasing to the palate, it should be pleasing to the eye and it should be well-iced.
As Esquire puts it, “When properly built, the Manhattan is the only cocktail that can slug it out toe-to-toe with the martini. It’s bold and fortifying, yet as relaxing as a deep massage. J.P. Morgan used to have one at the close of each trading day. It’s that kind of drink.”
What you need: 2 oz. rye whiskey, one sugar cube, three dashes of Angostura Bitters, 1 liter club soda
What to do: Wet the sugar cube with dashes of bitters and club soda inside a rocks glass and muddle. Add ice and whiskey and garnish with one half dollar-sized slice orange peel, including pith.
Credited to a bartender at the Pendennis Club, in Louisville, Kentucky, early versions of the Old Fashioned included other spirits like gin, brandy, and rum if a person didn’t care for rye or bourbon.
Although the drink has been a staple for over 150 years, the drink saw a resurgence thanks to the boozy exploits of Don Draper on Mad Men who made everything from Bermuda shorts to the fedora something that millennials pined to copy.
What you need: 4 oz. gin, 1 oz. dry vermouth.
What to do: Fill a shaker/glass with ice. Pour in vermouth and stir briefly. Add gin. Stir and strain into chilled cocktail glass, and garnish with an olive.
Like other cocktails, everyone claims that their version is not only the original, but also tastes the best. But even the smallest changes – like garnishing with a pickled onion rather than the classic olive – results in a completely different drink (a Gibson is garnished with an olive but still relies on nothing but gin and vermouth).
While the precise origins of the drink are still a mystery, what is known is that in 1863, an Italian vermouth maker started marketing their product under the brand name of “Martini.” Today, the product is still around and known as Martini & Rossi.
Over the years, the biggest change to the martini is not necessarily one’s preference for vodka over gin, but just how much alcohol is poured in.
In 1922, a martini recipe called for a 2:1 ratio between spirit and vermouth. During the 1930s the ratio was 3:1. During the 1940s the ratio was 4:1. Legend has it that Ernest Hemingway’s favorite cocktail, The Montgomery (named after British Field Marshall Bernard Montgomery), liked his gin to vermouth ratio to be 15:1 in the same manner that he liked his troops to outnumber his opponents on the battlefield.
What you need: 2 oz. of whiskey, four dashes freshly-squeezed lemon juice, one bar spoon of granulated sugar, one splash sparkling water.
What to do: Dissolve the sugar with lemon juice and sparking water in a mixing glass. Add whiskey and fill with ice. Stir well. Strain into a sour glass. Garnish with a cherry.
Many historians believe the whiskey sour derives its base from spiked punch of yesteryear which called for “one sour, two sweet, three strong, four weak.”
The recipe itself was first written down in the 1862 book The Bartender’s Guide by Jerry Thomas. However, the basic recipe was known for over a century prior.
During the 18th century, Royal Navy Admiral Edward Vernon ordered the daily rum ration be diluted with water and lime. This order served two purposes: British sailors would be less intoxicated, and also allowed for the hefty daily dose of citrus to help fight off scurvy.
Over time, rum was replaced with whiskey but the sugar and sour elements have always remained a staple element of the drink.
What you need: 1.5 oz. dry gin, 3/4 oz. Campari, 3/4 oz. Italian vermouth.
What to do: Shake well with cracked ice. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a twist of orange peel.
While most people view “getting a drink” as an after-meal endeavor, a good aperitif is the perfect element to enhance a meal.
The Negroni was invented by Count Camillo Negroni, who came up with the drink as a response to a watered-down beverage that was being ordered by American tourists in Italy which contained soda water. Negroni wanted to come up with a cocktail that was stronger, so he replaced the water with gin and his namesake cocktail was born.
The 97-year-old cocktail is enjoying a renaissance in 2016 due to a promotion appropriately-titled “Negroni Week” in which over 6,000 bars globally from 61 countries and 47 U.S. states participated in a charity/marketing event which saw them donate $1 USD for every drink sold – which last year resulted in $321,000 USD in donations.
According to Fortune, “U.S. case volume of Campari, which was stuck at roughly 50,000 nine-liter cases for decades, accelerated to around 100,000 annually in the past five years.”
What you need: 2.5 oz gin, .5 oz lime juice, .5 oz simple syrup (note: you can substitute 1 oz lime cordial, such as Rose’s Lime Juice, for both the lime juice and simple syrup).
What do do: Add all the ingredients to a shaker and fill with ice. Shake, and strain into a chilled cocktail glass or an Old Fashioned glass filled with fresh ice. Garnish with a lime wheel.
The Gimlet is another relatively simple gin-based cocktail to master that cuts through the potent, pinecone flavor of the spirit with the help of a little lime juice and simple syrup.
Much like the aforementioned exploits of Royal Navy Admiral Edward Vernon who looked to curb sailor’s rowdiness by “cutting” their alcohol intake using lemons and limes which were on board to cure scurvy, the gimlet’s rise to prominence also has a Naval history.
Developed by Rear-Admiral Sir Thomas Desmond Gimlette, he added gin to the anti-scurvy drinks comprised solely of lime juice, as sailor’s found it easier to drink if alcohol was added.
The cocktail was featured in harry Craddock’s 1930 The Savoy Cocktail Book, where he offered the advice that the drink “can be iced if desired.”
What you need: 2 oz. white rum, 1/2 oz. lime juice, 1 tsp. sugar, 3-4 mint leaves, club soda.
What to do: Muddle the lime juice with the sugar in a small glass. Add mint and continue to muddle. Add ice and rum. Top with club soda and add squeezed lime rind.
There is a legendary sign hanging in a bar in Havana, Cuba, La Bodeguita del Medio, which allegedly has a handwritten note from Ernest Hemingway which reads, “My mojito in La Bodeguita, My daiquiri in El Floridita.” In turn, hundreds of thousands of people have flocked to the tiny watering hole to have what Papa favored.
But as it turned out, it was simply an ingenious marketing ploy by the owners in the 1950s which has made Hemingway’s name and the rum drink synonymous with one another despite a lack of evidence that it was his favorite drink or if he even liked it.
While many think of a tropical locale and Afro-Cuban rhythms when they think of drinking the cocktail, the mojito has actually become the most popular cocktail in Britain’s pubs and bars.
What you need: 1.5 oz rye whiskey, 1/4 oz applejack, 3/4 oz yellow Chartreuse.
What to do: Shake all ingredients with ice until cold; strain over ice in a rocks glass, garnish with mint.
Known originally as the “Diamondback Lounge Cocktail,” the Diamondback was the house cocktail of the Lord Baltimore Hotel’s bar and gets its name from the mascot of nearby University of Maryland – the Terrapin – who has a “diamond” shape on its shell.
Described as “an Old-Fashioned on steroids,” the cocktail has hints of a punch from the rye whiskey with additional notes of sweetness and herbal remnants.
Now that you’re nice and sauced up, here are a few tips on how to hide a hangover.
- Featured / Main Image: TheBar.com