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"Part II: 10 Classic Cocktails and Their Murky Origins” History and Making the Cocktails
A Wine Wanderings Spirits Newsletter
Last week you may have read my newsletter Part I: “10 Classic Cocktails and Their Murky Origins” where I detailed a bit of the 300-year history of modern cocktails and described some famous bars and barmen who invented them. I hope you have developed a sense that many well-known bars and professional mixologists want to claim the invention of a classic cocktail. Most cocktails have murky origins, to be sure. Check out the Cosmopolitan below. Travel with me to many parts of the world where these cocktails were invented: America, India, England, France, Italy, Cuba, Mexico, the Caribbean. Judge for yourself whose story is accurate.
In Part II I will discuss my nominees for the Top 10 Classics and recommend a few spirits. Surely my choices reflect an American palate and my generational opinions. You may disagree or add to the list. If so, please COMMENT below and make your nominees known.
Here is my list. I have detailed additional details of cocktail history, the recipes, and the drink variations spun off these Classic Cocktails:
· The Martini
· The Gin & Tonic
· The Sazerac
· The Daiquiri
· The Bloody Mary
· The Champagne Cocktail
· The Old Fashioned
· The Margarita
· The Negroni
· The Cosmopolitan
This cocktail’s history is more than murky. Many of us became aware of the Martini from James Bond movies; Bond’s “shaken not stirred” endorsement came from Earnest Hemingway’s pronouncement in the novel, A Farewell to Arms. Most mixologists endorse the stirred version using gin. Perhaps you heard about the Martini from the “three Martini lunches on Madison Avenue” they featured on the TV series Mad Men? The origins are unclear. One story claims that a California bartender in the mid-1800’s in Martinez, CA called his gin cocktail “The Martinez” when he stirred one up for a gold miner. Another story claims that New York’s Knickerbocker Hotel originated the cocktail named for the vermouth brand Martini & Rossi. The Martini’s popularity spread during Prohibition era with illegal “bathtub” gin. The recipe for this bracing cocktail was first published in the Bartender’s Manual in the 1880’s.
How to Make a Martini
Ingredients: 5 parts dry gin, 1 part vermouth, lemon twist.
Recommended Spirits: Hendrick’s Gin and Dolin Dry Vermouth.
Instructions: Fill mixing glass with ice. Add 1 part Vermouth and stir for a few seconds. Then add 5 parts dry gin to mixing glass and stir briskly for 50 turns. Stain into a chilled martini glass and garnish with a lemon twist or olive.
Vodka Martini: Use Tito’s Vodka.
Dirty Martini: Garnish is an olive and add some olive juice to the Martini.
Perfect Martini: 50/50 gin and Vermouth blend.
The Gin & Tonic
As detailed in Part I: 10 Classic Cocktails and Their Murky Origins, as early as 1825 the British East India Company and the British navy gave soldiers and sailors a concoction of quinine, lime, and gin. The quinine in the tonic water was used to treat malaria, the limes were drunk to prevent scurvy, and the gin gave the sailors the “Dutch courage” needed for long, treacherous voyages to India. The Gin & Tonic was born. Afternoon social gatherings for expatriates in India would never be the same without it. The Spanish are crazy for G&T’s. At the rooftop bar, La Dolce Vitae at the Majestic Hotel in Barcelona, I saw at least 16 G&T variations on the menu. Drink while enjoying a wonderful view of the Sagrada Familia cathedral.
How to Make a Gin & Tonic
Ingredients: 2 oz. (60 ml) gin, 4 oz (120 ml tonic water, lemon or lime wedge, or cucumber slide to garnish.
Recommended Spirits: Sipsmith Gin and Fever-Tree Tonic.
Instructions: Add the gin to a Collins or highball glass filled with ice. Top with tonic water and stir to combine. Squeeze the lemon or lime wedge into the drink then drop it in.
Muddled Cucumber G&T: muddle or press a cucumber. Add to the mixture. Great for a cucumber-infused gin like Hendricks.
The Sazerac has been called “the original and oldest American Cocktail.” The impressive Sazerac Bar on the ground floor of New Orleans Roosevelt Hotel – A Waldorf Astoria Hotel - claims the fame and credits a Creole apothecary, Antoine Peychaud, for dispensing the proprietary mix of aromatic bitters used. The Sazerac Coffee House in New Orleans also claims the origin of the “Coquetier” cocktail.
How to Make a Sazerac
Ingredients: 2 dashes absinthe, 1 white sugar cube, 3 dashes Peychaud’s bitters, 2 oz. (60 ml) rye, lemon twist to garnish.
Recommended Spirits: St. George Absinthe, Alameda, CA, and Peychaud bitters.
Instructions: Add the absinthe to a rocks glass and swirl to coat. Discard any excess liquid. In a mixing glass muddle the sugar cube and bitters. Pour in the rye, fill with ice, and stir for 25-30 seconds. Stain into the absinthe-rinsed glass. Express a lemon twist over the drink, then discard.
Use Cognac or bourbon instead of rye, or a combination of both.
The Holy Trinity of Caribbean cocktails is sugar, rum, and citrus. The name Daiquiri is taken from a mining town in Cuba where in the 1894-1896 timeframe an ex-pat, Jennings Cox, an American engineer working in Cuba, claimed to have created the drink. The basic ingredient combination is older than that. The popularity of the Daiquiri gained traction in 1920 when F. Scott Fitzgerald mentioned it is his book, This Side of Paradise.The daiquiri happened to be my first adult cocktail, ordered and drunk in West Lafayette, Indiana near the Purdue University campus.
How to Make a Daiquiri
Ingredients: 2 oz. (60 ml) white rum, 1 oz. (30 ml) fresh lime juice, .74 oz. (22 ml) Simple Syrup**, lime wheel to garnish.
Recommended Spirits: Mount Gay Rum.
Instructions: Combine all the ingredient in a cocktail shaker filled with ice and shake vigorously for 15-20 seconds, or until frosted on the outside. Strain into a couple. Garnish with a lime wheel.
Frozen Daiquiri: Put ingredients in a blender with crushed ice. Blend.
Cloak & Dagger: Use dark rum.
Bumble Bee: Use honey and Aged rum instead of white rum and Simple Syrup. Add 3 dashes of Angostura bitters and garnish with an orange twist.
The Bloody Mary
The King Cole at the St. Regions Hotel, New York City, is widely regarded as the birthplace of the Bloody Mary. Head barman Fernand Petiot, who managed the bar from 1934 to 1966, added salt, pepper, Worcestershire sauce, and hot sauce to the plain vodka and tomato juice he previously conceived at Harry’s New York Bar, Paris. Harry’s New York Bar (1921) and the city of Palm Beach (1927) also claim its invention. The Bloody Mary is commonly served for brunches and lunches all over the world today. Often the Bloody Mary serves to be the next morning “hair of the dog” chaser to a bad hangover.
How to Make a Bloody Mary
Ingredients: 4 oz. (120 ml) tomato juice, 1.5-2 oz. (45-60 ml) Vodka, .25-.5 oz (7-15 ml) fresh lemon juice, .25 oz. (7 ml) Worcestershire sauce, 4 dashes Tabasco or hot sauce, 1 pinch celery salt. Experiment with garnishes including limes, lemons, celery stalks, shrimp, bacon, capers, and olives or anything pickled.
Recommended Spirits: Belvedere Vodka.
Instructions: Combine all ingredients in a shaking tin with ice. Strain and repeat 4-5 times “rolling ingredients” back in original shaker. Fine strain into a highball glass filled with fresh ice.
Red Snapper – Substitute gin for the tequila.
Bloody Joseph – Substitute whisky for the tequila.
Bullshot, Detroit, MI – Use 3-4 oz. of beef broth instead of the tomato juice.
Mid-Atlantic twist: Add Old Bay seasoning.
The Champagne Cocktail and the French 75
The Champagne cocktail dates back to at least the 1850’s as an invention of French bartenders. It is a refined aperitif that never goes out of style. One of the most famous and potent variations is the French 75, named for a French artillery gun with a 75mm shell because the cocktail was said to “knock you flat.” Controversy among purist bartenders exists over whether to use gin or Cognac. Both are excellent choices. The Champagne cocktail was immortalized by the character, Victor Laszlo, in the movie Casablanca.
How to Make a French 75
Ingredients: 1 oz., (30 ml) gin or Cognac, .5 oz. fresh lemon juice, .5 oz. (15 ml) Simple Syrup** - recipe below, 1-2 oz. (30-60 ml) brut-style Champagne or dry sparkling wines, lemon twist to garnish.
Recommended Spirits: Bombay Sapphire Gin or Courvoisier Cognac.
Instructions: Combine the first three ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously for 15-20 seconds, or until frosted on the outside. Stain into a flute and top with brut-style Champagne of dry sparkling wine. Alternatively, serve over ice in a rocks glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.
Mimosa: Invented in the 1920’s, add fresh orange juice to Champagne.
Kir Royale: Add crème de cassis to Champagne.
Champagne Nicholas II: Russian Tsar Nicholas II preferred his Champagne with a hit of herbal Chartreuse.
Death in the Afternoon: Ernest Hemingway’s boo, Death in the Afternoon included this drink made of absinthe and brut-style Champagne. At the time absinthe was considered toxic. It is not anymore.
The Old Fashioned
The Old Fashioned used to refer to an entire class of cocktails that followed the simple combination of spirits, sugar, water, and bitters. Most likely the Old Fashioned was invented in Chicago near America’s Bourbon country around 1806 and was referred to as the “bittered sling” in some circles. It was marketed as medicinal. As noted in Part I, the sugar, water, and bitters tended to dampen the harsh whiskey spirits that time in early America.
How to Make an Old Fashioned
Ingredients: 2 oz. (60 ml) bourbon or rye, .25 (7 ml) Simple Syrup**, 2-3 dashes Angostura bitters, lemon and orange twists to garnish.
Recommended Spirits: TX Blended Whiskey (Firestone & Robertson Distilling Co.) and Dolin Bitters.
Instructions: Combine all the ingredients in a rocks glass. Add one large ice cube and sir for 10 seconds. Garnish with lemon and orange twists.
Oaxaca Old Fashioned: Created by Phil Ward at Death & Co. in New York City, this is a smoky version named after the Mexican state. When you find mezcal, use reposado tequila – 1.5 oz. and .5 mezcal-- instead of whiskey.
Who invented the Margarita? Was it Carlos Herrea, owner of Tijuana restaurant, Rancho La Gloria, in 1938? Or Dallas socialite Margarita Sames? Or Danny Negrete in the Garci Crespo Hotel, Puebla, where starlet Margarita Casino (Rita Hayworth) would often perform? Everyone wants to claim the Margarita.
The Margarita (Spanish word for “daisy”) was a later entry into the Classic Cocktail realm appearing in the 1930’s we think, but the cocktail really took off in the 1970’s. Margarita Madness was embraced quickly in the border states of Texas, New Mexico, and California. Mariano Martinez, a Dallas restauranteur, invented the frozen Margarita Machine cranking out as many as 200 blended margaritas per night with his TexMex cuisine. The machine is displayed now in the Smithsonian’s National Museum of American History and has been considered one of its Top 10 American inventions.
How to Make a Margarita
Ingredients: 1.5 oz. (45 ml) Blanco tequila 1 oz., (30 ml) Cointreau, .75 oz. (22ml) fresh lime juice. Garnishes: Lime wedge and sea salt rim.
Recommended Spirits: Patrón Reposado.
Instructions: For the salt rim, pour a few TBSPs of sea salt in a shallow saucer. Rub the rim of a rocks glass with a lime wedge and dip the glass into the salt. Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously for 15-20 seconds. Strain into the rocks glass filled with fresh ice. Garnish with a lime wedge.
The Frozen Margarita- Use a blender with ice.
The Strawberry Margarita – use strawberry purée or muddle a few berries into the recipe.
Tommy’s Margarita, San Francisco – use agave nectar instead of Cointreau.
Kamikaze - 1970’s: is a mini vodka Margarita: 1 oz (30ml) vodka, .5 oz. (15ml) Triple Sec .5 oz. (15 ml) lime juice.
In 1919 Count Camilla Negroni asked his friend and bartender Forsco Scarselli at Caffe Casoni, Florence, Italy, to strengthen the cocktail “Americano.” So, his friend added gin to the Campari and sweet Vermouth cocktail instead of the normal soda water. He also added an orange garnish rather than the typical lemon zest. What is questionable is the status of “count” associated with Negroni.
How to Make a Negroni
Ingredients: 1 oz. (30 ml) London Dry Gin, 1 oz. (30 ml) Campari, 1 oz. (30 ml) sweet vermouth.
Recommended Spirits: The Botanist Dry Gin, Vya Vermouth.
Instructions: Combine all ingredients in a rocks glass, add large ice cubes, and stir for 10 seconds. Garnish with an orange twist or half Wheel.
Stiffer drink: increase the gin to 1.5 oz.
Cardinale (Rome, Italy) – use dry vermouth instead.
Valentino – use Vodka instead of gin.
Jabberwocky - (named for the Lewis Carroll poem) – use Fino or Manzanilla sherry instead of Campari and add 1 oz. Caparitif and 2 dashed of orange bitter.
Gloria – created by Trader Vic Bergeron – add .5 oz. of Cointreau for this dry, orange Negroni.
Boulevardier – substitute bourbon for the gin. It is considered a bittered Manhattan or Whiskey Negroni.
Made famous by the characters Carrie and Samantha in Sex in the City, the Cosmopolitan took shape in reality with the advent of Absolut Citron. Citrus-infused vodka differentiated this cocktail from predecessors like the Kamikaze. Toby Cecchini of the Odeon in New York City is credited with its invention in 1987. But Toby’s co-worker, Melissa Huffsmith, said she introduced it to him. He said – she said. In 1985 celebrity mixologist, Cheryl Cook, working at the Strand Restaurant, where she test-marketed Absolut Citron in South Beach, FL, claimed the Cosmo invention. Neal Murry, bartender at the Cork and Cleaver, Minneapolis, mixed cranberry juice into a Kamikaze cocktail and declared, “how cosmopolitan.”
Whichever origin you believe, it was in the late 90’s in the TV series Sex in the City that the Cosmopolitan became synonymous with working women and the emerging cocktail revolution.
How to Make a Cosmopolitan
Ingredients: 1.5 oz. (45 ml) citrus vodka, .75 oz. (22ml) Cointreau, .75 oz. (22ml) fresh lime juice, .75 oz. (22 ml) cranberry juice, lime twist, to garnish.
Recommended Spirits: Absolut Citron
Instructions: Combine all the ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with ice and shake vigorously for 15-20 seconds, or until frosted on the outside. Stain into a couple, garnish with a lime twist.
The CosNo: Substitute Sipslip non-alcohol spirits instead of alcohol. A non-alcoholic favorite.
**Simple Syrup Recipe: Boil one cup water. Add 1 cup sugar. Stir until dissolved. Store in a refrigerator for up to two weeks. Skinny Variation with Stevia: 1 cup warm water, 7 TBSP Stevia. Add Stevia to warm water to dissolve.
Conclusion and Tropical Drinks
With the exception of the Daiquiri, I did not mention all my favorite tropical drinks. This topic warrants another newsletter. Since it is Pandemic Spring 2021, I would like to suggest preparing one of the iconic tropical drinks. This tropical cocktail comes to us from the Soggy Dollar Bar in the BVI’s – the Painkiller. Can’t you see yourself wading from your boat to the shore of Jost Van Dyke up to this bar about now? Order a Painkiller with a side of Conch Fritters and Coconut Shrimp. Cheers!
Origins: from the Soggy Dollar, BVI, Jost Van Dyke.
Ingredients: 1.5 oz (45 ml) Pussers British Navy Rum, 2 o. (60 ml) unsweetened pineapple juice, .5 oz. (15 ml) fresh orange juice, .75 oz (22 ml) coconut cream, freshly grated nutmeg, to garnish.
Recommended Spirits: Pussers British Navy Rum.
Instructions: Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker without ice and dry shake for 10 seconds. Pour into a Tiki mug or Collins glass filled with 2/3 crushed ice. Top with more crushed ice, garnish with freshly grated nutmeg.
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