Thank goodness Mad Men returns for its sixth season this Sunday; any longer, and I might have taken up a three-martini lunch habit. I am giddy at the return of retro style and classic cocktails. Even as it evolves, the 1960s-set show always shines a compelling lens on American cocktail culture. Celebrate the return of this tribute to classic libations by mixing up a drink (or three) featured on the show.
Until I read Imbibe by David Wondrich, a wonderfully nerdy book about the history of boozin', I thought an old fashioned was bourbon served over ice, sugar, bitters, and a muddle of oranges and maraschino cherries. But turns out, that fruit-laden recipe is pretty much the antithesis of what an old fashioned cocktail was intended to be.
When bartenders first started serving cocktails, they were ridiculously simple: some type of spirit (usually bourbon or gin), gum syrup, bitters, and a shaving of nutmeg. But by the 1870s, so many variations had been introduced — the "fancy cocktail" with curaçao, the absinthe "improved" version — that purists wanted a return to the original formula. Hence, the old fashioned cocktail, with the slightly fancier lemon peel taking the place of nutmeg. To get the recipe, read more
While the original gimlet, from 1930's The Savoy Cocktail Book, was made with equal parts Rose's lime juice (sweetened, concentrated lime juice) and gin, today's palates prefer a stiffer drink.
Shaken and served straight up, the light green gimlet is still surprisingly sweet and easy to drink, which is why we think it's Mad Men character Betty Draper's go-to cocktail.
The herbaceous gin and syrupy Rose's lime juice combine for a classy cocktail that you'd be happy to drink either noon or night.
What do the hurricane, bourbon milk punch, and the Ramos gin fizz all have in common? They all hail from the great cocktail town of New Orleans, and are all good options for celebrating Fat Tuesday in style. But if you're a sucker for classic, spirit-forward cocktails like I am, then there's only one way to celebrate Mardi Gras: with a classic Sazerac.
I've enjoyed Sazeracs in many iterations: served on the rocks or straight up in a martini glass, with the Sazerac brand of whiskey, and even with fruit infusions. Mark my words, though: the most perfect version of a Sazerac is this minimalist one from my friend Sam Treadway, bartender at Boston's Backbar.
I reached out to Sam to find out what makes his Sazerac so memorable. As it turns out, the Big Easy cocktail has a special place in his heart, so he gives it plenty of due attention. "It needs nothing too fancy," he told me. "Just lots of love, because it's my favorite drink."
See his recipe when you keep reading.
Fat Tuesday is tomorrow, and even if you're not in New Orleans to ring in Mardi Gras, you can still celebrate with a tipple that enjoys the title of the city's official cocktail. The sazerac, which dates back to pre-Civil War times, has been around so long that it's rumored to be America's oldest cocktail — and there's a reason why. Watch the video, then make our recipe, which adds ice for a refreshing touch; we guarantee this aromatic drink will please any spirit-forward cocktail enthusiast.
Since we're tackling the essentials of home bartending this week, I thought I'd whet your appetite for a stiff drink by testing your cocktail know-how.
Here's how it's going to work: I'll name a bar beverage, and you'll match it to the right glassware. How well you do might have something to do with how many you've toasted with in your lifetime. Ready to raise a (proper) glass? Then let's get started.Take the Quiz
Until recently, I assumed that Campari and its slightly milder cousin Aperol were love-it-or-hate-it aperitifs. But after cautiously trying a sip (and then another) of an expertly mixed Negroni while out to dinner one night, I discovered that, like many of the finer things in life, these bittersweet spirits are an acquired taste.
Since then, I've been sipping, swirling, and nibbling on everything and anything Italian, bittersweet, and glowingly bright red-orange. But tempted as I may be by riffs on the classic, I keep coming back to my first love: the negroni. Complex and with a heady perfume, this classic cocktail somehow seems appropriate year-round. Its bitterness helps to refresh the palate between bites of fatty braised meats come Fall and Winter, and when temperatures rise, it acts as internal air conditioning. A word of caution: this beverage is 100 percent alcohol, so pace yourself, lest you feel 100 percent awful come the next morning.
It may only be Thursday, but I'm already looking forward to Saturday afternoon, when I can take a moment to bask in the fleeting Indian Summer sun with a skewer in one hand and a cocktail in the other. After all, the season's prime time for entertaining with friends at home. To inspire you, I thought I'd tempt you with recipes for favored alcoholic beverages — along with five modern updates on them. Quench your thirst for cocktails both creative and classic, when you keep reading.
In a city as cocktail-savvy as San Francisco, it's pretty hard to have a bad drink. I trust the bartenders here so much that in my mid-20s, I upgraded my standard gin, tonic, and two-lime order to a tried-and-true bourbon cocktail, the classic old-fashioned.
It's been more than a few years (let's just say I'm no longer in my mid-20s), and recently, I got to thinking I was ready for yet another upgrade. My encounter with the new cocktail in my life couldn't have come sooner. I first tried the Vieux Carré over a drink-filled dinner at San Francisco's very solid Range restaurant; several rounds later, I declared it my go-to drink.
See the recipe for my new favorite cocktail when you keep reading.
What's old continues to be new again! Take a look at a smattering of bar tabs from around the country, and you'll note that consumers are not only continuing their love affair with classic cocktails, but reviving some that have faded from lost eras as well.
Spirit-forward drinks like the Manhattan and the Old Fashioned continue to reign supreme, as do anise-inflected tipples like the New Orleans Sazerac and that Hemingway standby, Death in the Afternoon. We're having fun revisiting old favorites (and, on occasion, updating them as well). Tell us: what was your favorite classic cocktail this year?