World Cocktail Day is almost upon us, and there’s no better way to celebrate than by taking your home bartender game to the next level with some elegant takes on classic cocktails.
World Cocktail Day is a celebration of cocktails around the globe, marking the publication date of the first definition of a cocktail on May 13th in 1806. ‘Cocktail’ was officially defined in the New York tabloid ‘The Balance and Columbian Repository’ in 1806, which defined a cocktail as “a stimulating liquor, composed of spirits of any kind, sugar, water and bitters…” in response to a reader’s question.
Nowadays we are a little more liberal with our definition of a cocktail. A cocktail, is used to refer to a drink that contains two or more ingredients with at least one of the ingredients alcohol (although a purist will tell you all proper cocktails need at least three ingredients). The word ‘cocktail’ has now become embedded in our drinking vocabulary as the drinks are widely accessible with their ingredients adapting to suit every taste.
So with that in mind, here are five absolutely exquisite cocktails worthy to drink in celebration of this day.
The Grand Sidecar
The exact origin of the sidecar is unclear, but it is thought to have been invented around the end of World War I in either London or Paris. The Ritz Hotel in Paris claims origin of the drink with the first recipes for the Sidecar appearing in 1922. This version of the sidecar adds more complexity with utilizing Grand Marnier rather than generic Orange Liqueur or Triple Sec.
- 1 1/2 oz Grand Marnier
- 1/2 oz Cognac
- 1/2 oz Fresh lemon juice
Method: In a cocktail shaker combine Grand Marnier, Cognac and lemon juice. Add ice and shake vigorously until well chilled. Serve in a tall coupe glass and garnish with a decorative orange rind.
The Daiquiri is the very definition of a classic cocktail, and one that has seen a poor mass market representation of its original recipe through “slushee” mix bar servings. A true Daiquiri is a delicious mix of sweet and sour, and a drink Hemmingway himself is said to have preferred. Although his take is a little more booze forward…
- 2 oz white rum
- 3/4 oz fresh lime juice
- 1/2 oz fresh grapefruit juice
- 1/2 oz maraschino liqueur
- 1 lime wheel, for garnish
Method: Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Add all of the remaining ingredients except the lime wheel and shake well. Strain into a chilled coupe and garnish with the lime wheel.
Although it’s not the most widely known drink, the Sazerac is both delicious and one of America’s oldest cocktails. The blend of rye whiskey, bitters, sugar, and absinthe dates all the way back to the 1830s when Creole pharmacist Antoine Peychaud came up with the recipe. You may recognize Peychaud as the brand name for a very popular bitter, which is no coincidence.
- 1 cube sugar
- 1 1/2 oz Sazerac Rye Whiskey or Buffalo Trace Bourbon
- 1/4 ounce Absinthe
- 3 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters
- Lemon peel
Method: Pack an Old-Fashioned glass with ice. In a second Old-Fashioned glass place the sugar cube and add the Peychaud’s Bitters to it, then crush the sugar cube. Add the Sazerac Rye Whiskey or Buffalo Trace Bourbon to the second glass containing the Peychaud’s Bitters and sugar. Empty the ice from the first glass and coat the glass with the Absinthe, then discard the remaining. Empty the whiskey/bitters/sugar mixture from the second glass into the first glass and garnish with lemon peel.
The Perfect Manhattan
The Manhattan is another cocktail that the true origin has been lost to memory. Some claim it stems from the New York bar scene of the 1860s, while there’s a far more interesting tale that takes place in 1874 when Jennie Churchill threw a party at the Manhattan Club to celebrate Samuel J. Tilden’s victory in New York’s gubernatorial election. A bartender at the event allegedly created the drink, and Churchill soon gave birth to a son, Winston, while Tilden made a presidential run in 1876.
For a Perfect Manhattan, there are equal parts sweet and dry vermouth.
- 2 oz rye whiskey or bourbon
- 1/2 oz sweet vermouth
- 1/2 oz dry vermouth
- 2 dashes Angostura or orange bitters
- Maraschino cherry or small piece lemon peel for garnish
Method: In mixing glass or cocktail shaker filled with ice, combine whiskey, vermouth, and bitters. Stir well, about 20 seconds, then strain into chilled coupe glass. Add cherry or twist lemon peel directly over drink to release essential oils, and serve.
Old School Martini
The exact origin of the martini is unclear. In 1863, an Italian vermouth maker started marketing their product under the brand name of Martini, after its director Alessandro Martini, and the brand name may be the source of the cocktail’s name. However, another popular theory suggests it evolved from a cocktail called the Martinez served sometime in the early 1860s at the Occidental Hotel in San Francisco, which people frequented before taking an evening ferry to the nearby town of Martinez. Alternatively, the people of Martinez say a bartender in their town created the drink.
No matter where it came from, no other cocktail has more variations than the martini.
- 1 oz dry vermouth
- 4 oz gin
- Olives or lemon twist
Method: Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Pour in the dry vermouth (we prefer Noilly Prat), stir briefly, and strain out. Add 4 ounces of gin (we prefer Tanqueray, Bombay Sapphire, or Beefeater). Stir briskly for about 10 seconds, strain into a chilled cocktail glass, and garnish with an olive or a lemon twist.