Classics

These are some of the essential classic cocktail recipes. Some are the tried and true original recipes, others are my variations. More to come. Cheers!

Basic rules:

  • All juice should be fresh squeezed, especially citrus.
  • Always double strain shaken cocktails. It keeps tiny bits of ice and fruit out of your drink.

Aviation
1½ oz London dry gin
½ oz maraschino liqueur
¾ oz lemon juice
Shake well with ice and into a chilled cocktail glass. Lemon twist or maraschino cherry garnish optional.

From Paul Harrington’s excellent and sadly out-of-print Cocktails.
The original pre-prohibition recipe adds creme de violette (or creme yvette) to which adds a blueish color which is pleasant and helps explain the name. It also add a taste of flowers that is unpleasant to me.


Bee’s Knees
2 oz gin
¾ oz lemon juice
¾ oz honey syrup (1:1 honey and water)
Shake well with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. 


Daiquiri
2 oz rum
¾ oz simple syrup
¾ oz lime juice
Shake well with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.


French 75
1 oz London dry gin
½ oz lemon juice
½ oz simple syrup
Shake well with ice and strain into a chilled coupe. Top with 1 oz Champagne.

Adapted from the PDT Cocktail Book.


Gimlet
2 oz gin
¾ oz simple syrup
¾ oz lime juice
Shake well with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

I am not a fan of the traditional Rose’s lime version and fresh is easy. Basically, it’s a gin daiquiri.


La Louisiane
2 oz rye whiskey
¾ oz Benedictine
¾ oz sweet vermouth
dash of Peychaud’s bitters
dash of absinthe or Herbsaint
Stir well with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.  Garnish with a maraschino cherry.

Some recipes for this cocktail call for 3 dashes each of Peychaud’s and absinthe. Feel free to adjust to your taste. An absinthe rinse will work as in place of the dash.


Manhattan
2 oz bourbon or rye whiskey
1 oz sweet vermouth
2-3 dashes aromatic bitters
Stir well with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon twist or maraschino cherry.

The whiskey should be at least 90 proof. Rye is spicier and traditional. Bourbon is softer and what you got if you ordered a Manhattan in most places between the 1940s and the current cocktail renaissance. (Or else you got Canadian whisky, which we don’t like to talk about around here.)


Maple Leaf
2 oz bourbon
¾ oz lemon juice
¾ oz Grade B maple syrup
Shake well with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

Grade B syrup is preferred here, but Grade A will suffice in a pinch. Just don’t try and put Mrs. Butterworth in your cocktails.


Margarita
2 oz tequila
¾ oz lime juice
½ oz agave nectar
Shake well with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Salted rim optional.

I prefer the Tommy’s recipe which drops the triple sec and leaves you with a fresher tasting cocktail highlighting the agave flavors in the tequila and nectar. Like the gimlet, it’s a modified daiquiri.


Martini
Don’t like ’em, don’t drink ’em. If I have to, I prefer the Audrey Saunders’ Fitty-Fitty variation. If you use anything other than gin, vermouth and bitters, it ain’t a Martini.


Old Fashioned
Either of these recipes perfect: Old Fashioned 101 | David Wondrich for Esquire
Regarding garnish, I find that generally a lemon twist works better with rye and an orange twist is preferable for bourbon.

If you’re feeling adventurous, try changing the spirit, bitters and/or sweetener. The Oaxacan Old Fashioned of tequila, mezcal, agave syrup and mole bitters is delightful.


Rob Roy
2 oz Scotch (Famous Grouse)
1 oz sweet vermouth
2 dashes orange bitters
Stir well with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange twist.


Sazerac
2 oz rye whiskey
3 dashes Peychaud’s bitters
1 dash Angostura bitters
1 barspoon (a generous ½ tsp) 2:1 simple syrup
Fill an old fashioned or other small glass with ice and let sit. When cold, dump ice and rinse glass with absinthe or pastis. In a mixing glass, stir rye, bitters and syrup with ice until well chilled. Strain drink into absinthe-rinsed glass and garnish with a lemon twist.

I know. You’re looking at the dash of Angostura either confused or shaking with rage. You can blame Jeffrey Morgenthaler if you want, but he’s right.
Lately, I’ve been partial to swapping cognac for the rye. It’s the traditional thing to do and dang tasty. Half cognac and half rye is also excellent.

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