Here is but a tiny sampling of the drinks that will be available to you and your guests. I have hundreds more at my disposal, and will craft new, signature cocktails specifically for your event.
Part I – The Forgotten Classics
While you may not intuitively think that gin, lemon, chocolate, and quinine will blend together to create a perfect cocktail, they do exactly that in the form of the 20th Century. I’ve yet to encounter anyone who has heard of this drink (unless I’ve poured them one in the past), but the unanimous sentiment of those who’ve tried my version is that this is among the greatest cocktails of all time.
One of my personal favorites, the Alaska is a Martini using Yellow Chartreuse in lieu of vermouth. The resultant drink is a nicely balanced mix of the gin’s botanicals and the Chartreuse’s sweet herbal flavors. If you are among the many who have not yet tried this cocktail, you may find it has become your regular drink once I’ve poured one for you. And if your palate’s preferences run to the herbal, ask for the Alaska’s higher-proof cousin, the Emerald Cocktail.
The aviation is among the smoothest and most refreshing cocktails ever invented. A base of gin is balanced with tart citrus, while cherry and violet liqueurs round out the drink.
Half-Manhattan, Half-Negroni, the Boulevardier is long-overdue for a comeback. A product of 1920s Paris, and the invention of American ex-pat writer Erskine Gwynne, the Boulevardier melds bourbon, Campari, and sweet vermouth together into an exquisite elixir. Our recipe incorporates Hungarian and Italian bitters to round out the flavors.
Once one of the most popular cocktails in existence, the Bronx has faded into obscurity in recent years. It combines the sharpness of a classic martini with the sweetness of orange juice and sweet vermouth into a surprisingly balanced package.
If we’re pouring Bronx and Manhattan cocktails, we can’t leave the trendiest of boroughs out of the mix. This drink surfaced around 1905 as a variation on the Manhattan. It includes a near-impossible-to-find ingredient, so it has fallen into obscurity. Fear not, I have found that ingredient– Amer Picon.
So-named for its color, which is reminiscent of traditional red Chinese lacquer, this rum-based cocktail packs a hidden punch, masked by sweet overtones of pomegranate and orange.
Corpse Reviver no. 2
The long since forgotten corpse reviver subclass of cocktails began as a selection of pre-11 am cocktails designed to impart steam and energy for the day to come. Of the two that made the cut for the famous Savoy Cocktail Book of 1930, the second is the real winner. It is a wonderfully balanced mixture of sweet, tart, and floral, with a hidden kick of gin that may well be strong enough to reanimate the dead.
Also known as “Hemingway’s Daiquiri,” this was Papa’s favored version of the famous drink. He had a hand in creating the recipe, and the drink is named after the Havana bar in which it was invented. The story goes that he stopped in to the Floridita bar just to use the restroom, suggested the recipe to the bartender on his way into the lavatory, then drank six in rapid succession upon exiting.
No cocktail has fallen further from the limelight than the Jack Rose– a semi-sweet apple and grenadine concoction that packs a hidden punch. There was a point in the not-too-distant past when this cocktail was as famous as the Martini or the Manhattan. As distillers of Applejack slowly vanished, so too did the call for this drink. In truth, it’s one of the greatest cocktails in existence, and if any drink deserves a 21st century resurgence, the Jack Rose is the one.
This cocktail is very representative of Prohibition-era cocktail making. The base spirit is, of course, gin, to which is added touches of anisette and mint. Those were originally added to mask the bathtub-production quality of gin at the time, but the resultant concoction is tasty enough to have survived the test of time.
The Last Word
If a corpse reviver imparts life, this is the cocktail that might end it. As the name implies, ordering one has more than once been the last word uttered by the drinker, at least on the evening in question. Maraschino, Chartreuse, and lime juice blend with the gin in a manner that belies the true strength of this concoction.
A gin cocktail with a bit of rum smuggled in for good measure, the Mah Jongg was a favorite during the Roaring ’20s. The game of Mah Jongg swept the nation then, and seemingly everyone was playing the game; a few were drinking the cocktail, which is in a select class of drinks that include nothing but 80+ proof ingredients yet taste balanced and smooth.
The forerunner to the Martini, and a San Francisco original, this drink was reportedly first made for a bar patron about to embark on the arduous journey from San Francisco to Martinez. It is similar to its offspring, though made with sweet vermouth rather than dry, and with Maraschino liqueur added to balance the sweetness of the drink.
This is another somewhat forgotten drink, but to cocktail aficionados few drinks conjure up the spirit of the Roaring ’20s, flappers, Gatsby, and American expats more than this one. This gin and absinthe drink was invented during Prohibition at Harry’s New York Bar, which was actually in Paris. The name was inspired by the work of Serge Voronoff, who grafted monkey’s testicle onto the testicles of male patients in order to “rejuvenate” them. Weird operation, tasty drink. Have one.
In the days of yore, when Britain had an empire, few outposts were more remote than Rangoon, Burma. The Pegu Club was where British officers met to drink, and the house cocktail survives to this day. Invented sometime prior to 1927, it infuses gin with tropical flavors.
Another Prohibition-era favorite, and one of few cocktails to incorporate Kümmel, a caraway liqueur, the Silver Bullet is extremely dry, with dominant citrus overtones. It can probably inebriate a werewolf.
Reportedly Laurel & Hardy’s favorite cocktail, the White Lady was a popular drink in its day. It traces its origins to the famous Savoy Hotel Bar in London. Nowadays its mostly forgotten, but it is an excellent drink and deserves a revival. Join the bandwagon early then tell your friends in years to come that you drank White Ladies before they were cool (again).
Part II – A Brief Detour to New Orleans
Cocktail à la Louisiane
Part I of our New Orleans trilogy, the De la Louisiane is a complex cocktail, with herbal flavors and sweetness layered upon a solid foundation of rye whiskey. Sweet vermouth gives the drink a crispness that is accentuated by the presence of Peychaud’s bitters.
If you survived the De la Louisiane, take a stroll down Vieux Carré, where you will encounter part II of our trilogy. This cocktail begins with a pleasant philter of brandy and rye, is complicated by the presence of numerous bitter and herbal elixirs, then topped off with a slice of lemon, and, finally, stirred four times with a silver spoon.
Only the most stalwart of drinkers ought consider advancing to part III. Though it began life as a cognac cocktail, in the 1870s rye became the liquor of choice for a proper Sazerac. Bitters, sugar, and absinthe are blended with the rye to create this quintessential New Orleans cocktail.
Ramos Gin Fizz
So you lived through the New Orleans trilogy, and the morning sun is bearing down on you? Time for a New Orleans breakfast– the Ramos Gin Fizz. Sure it takes 2 minutes to assemble the ingredients, and another 10 to shake this drink into existence, but it is well worth the time and effort spent in doing so. Cheers!
Part III – Timeless Favorites
Predating even the venerable martini, the Manhattan was probably first concocted in 1881 or 1882 at the Manhattan Club in New York City. It is traditionally made with rye whiskey, though many bartenders pour it with a whiskey chosen seemingly random. Fear not, tonight yours will be poured correctly, and garnished with a homemade maraschino cherry.
The Martini is possibly the most misunderstood cocktail there is. For starters, it is made with gin. When vodka is substituted, the resulting drink is called a Kangaroo, not a Martini. Further confusion surrounds a martini’s “dryness.” Contrary to popular belief, this has nothing to do with the ratio of vermouth to gin. A dry Martini simply means one made using dry vermouth, as opposed to one made with sweet vermouth, which is known as a Martinez. Finally, a Martini can be shaken or stirred without altering the taste, but a proper Martini is stirred so as not to produce a clouded drink.
In 1941, when vodka was practically unknown outside of Russia, Jack Morgan had a problem. He was sitting on a warehouse full of home-brewed ginger beer that had failed to sell. Enter John Martin, vodka distributor, who had a warehouse full of vodka to unload. The two met in New York and created the Moscow Mule. When Morgan returned to Los Angeles he offered the drink to Hollywood celebs in a personally engraved copper mug, and the drink, and vodka, became an overnight sensation.
Campari, gin, and sweet vermouth blend seamlessly together in a Negroni. When he reported back from Rome in 1947, Orson Welles described the drink by writing “the bitters are excellent for your liver, the gin is bad for you. They balance each other.” The drink actually originated in Florence some 30 years prior to Welles’ discovery, where it was an Americano cocktail made with gin replacing the soda water in order to give the drink a bigger kick.
Invented sometime before 1929, this light, refreshing, mint-forward drink came into being as the Rum Mojo. It languished in obscurity for decades until James Bond ordered one in 2002’s Die Another Day. Now it is a favorite among drinkers everywhere.
The cocktail is an American invention of the late 1700s or early 1800s. The word first appeared in print in 1803. Sometime in the 1880s, a bar patron ordered “a drink made the old-fashioned way,” and the bartender served him what we now call the Old Fashioned. Or so we think. We don’t really know. We do know that today an Old Fashioned is made with just about any spirit, but typically bourbon, sugar, and bitters, and sometimes topped off with a blast of seltzer water. An aged rum makes for an excellent alternative to bourbon.
It’s a Manhattan, with Scotch! And it’s named for a comic opera that played Herald Square in 1894. In honor of the hit, the bartenders at the nearby Waldorf Hotel concocted this drink.
Here is our namesake, and something delicious that a flapper might drink, were there still flappers. But you can channel the Gatsby Spirit for a night, and partake of one. Based around brandy, it has a sweet and refreshing kick of citrus. Motorcycles sporting sidecars may be a relic of a bygone era, relegated forever to the annals of history, but the Sidecar lives on in cocktail form.
Here is a chance to sample the sublime and refreshing libation that survives today in bastardized form as the ubiquitous rum-and-coke. You may never be able to order the latter again after tasting what it is capable of being.
Though it is correctly pronounced “die-keer-ee,” sometimes one must blow with the prevailing wind, and the winds these days all lead to dak-er-ee. The drink is every bit as refreshing as expected for something named after a Cuban beach village.
Part IV – Modern Classics
Of all modern-era cocktails, none have more quickly, or solidly, ensconced themselves in the cocktail canon as has the Cosmo. Its origin is disputed, though it probably came into existence in Miami in 1986. What isn’t disputed is that it helped usher in the cocktail renaissance that is now in full swing. It is also one of very few vodka cocktails to garner respect among mixologists.
This is a cocktail for lovers of Fernet Branca, a bitter digestif and acquired taste. It melds the bite of fernet with the mellow botanicals of Galliano into a complex but tasty concoction with overtones of chocolate.
A slightly-bitter, fruit-forward gin cocktail, the Jasmine is a Sidecar original. It has gained considerable acclaim since its introduction at our bar 10 years ago, and we suggest you try one immediately.
Created by mixologist Brother Cleve for the 2008 Tales of the Cocktail, a New Orleans event, the drink is a Creole remix of the Boston classic cocktail the Ward Eight. Bourbon, elderflower and tropical spices come together in a surprisingly mellow libation.
The Miller’s Daughter
Definitely potent, this cocktail’s strength is well-masked by the interplay of ingredients. It is in many ways an elderflower-infused variant of the venerable Aviation cocktail.