Spring is here, and with warmer temperatures emerging in the forecast, people are ready to get outside and socialize. And nothing goes better with a good time than a fun cocktail (or “mocktail”) to set the mood. Although everyone has their own personal preferences, it’s hard to go wrong with a classic concoction. Many of the trendy beverages we consume today, such as an “Old Fashioned” or “Manhattan,” are creations from decades ago.
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Here are some of our favorite classic cocktails to try this season.
The Martini is quite possibly one of the most recognizable cocktails worldwide. Despite the beverage’s immense popularity, its “creation” story is up for debate. The original recipe consists of gin, vermouth, and an olive garnish. Throughout the years, people began using vodka in place of gin to achieve a cleaner finish. This led to countless reimagining of the beverage into variations that suit any palate.
For a colorful rendition of a classic, try the Aviation Cocktail. First, add ice into a cocktail shaker. Then add gin, maraschino liqueur, crème de Violette liqueur, and lemon juice, and shake until chilled. Finally, garnish a chilled martini glass with a fresh lemon twist, and strain the mixture into the glass. The curious grouping of flavors results in a striking violet cocktail that is just as beautiful as it is tasty.
As the popularity of bourbon and American whiskey once again rises in North America, it’s not uncommon to find a rendition of the Old Fashioned on the menu of just about every bar and restaurant. The recipe originated at a private social club in Louisville, Kentucky in 1881 and has been a mainstay ever since. The simple bourbon cocktail is a blend of sugar, spice and – well – everything nice.
To make this classic drink with a modern twist, add to your favorite highball glass a spoonful of sugar, a few dashes of Angostura bitters, a slice of lemon and orange, and brandy-infused cherry. Muddle the ingredients until blended fully. Add ice and two ounces of bourbon or rye whiskey, depending upon your taste (bourbon has sweet notes while rye is more peppery), and shake well. Pour the beverage into the glass and garnish with a flamed orange peel.
The story behind the Moscow Mule is one of ingenuity. The well-loved drink was first created in 1941 when restaurateur and entrepreneur John “Jack” Morgan formulated a recipe for ginger beer. At the time, Mr. Morgan was struggling to get people to catch on to the bold flavor. He met John Martin, president of a spirit company, who was also having trouble finding people to consume his new product called Smirnoff Vodka.
The two men bonded over the similarity of their circumstances, which led to the idea of creating a cocktail by combining the two drinks. They added ice and a wedge of lemon to the drink, and the Moscow mule was created. Today, the drink is very trendy, with creative variations everywhere you turn. A fun rendition to try at your next social gathering is a blood orange and pomegranate Moscow Mule. It starts with the traditional recipe, then adds two ounces of blood orange juice and a drizzle of pomegranate molasses. Garnish the mug with a blood orange wedge and a sprig of mint, for a tangy twist on the beloved mid-century cocktail.
The Negroni is an Italian aperitif, created in 1919 at the request of Count Camillo Negroni. A classic Negroni consists of three equal parts of gin, Campari, and sweet vermouth garnished with a twist of lemon. The classic beverage is a riff on a cocktail called an Americano, which uses club soda instead of gin for a fizzy, refreshing sip. Negronis remain a drink of choice for cocktail enthusiasts around the world.
For an innovative take on the original, try a Pink Negroni. Just add ice, gin, Campari, lemon juice, Lillet Blanc, and a few dashes of hibiscus bitters to a cocktail shaker. Shake ingredients until well chilled, then strain into your favorite glass and finish with a hibiscus bloom or sprig of tarragon. You are sure to love this elevated version of a classic cocktail.
While the Old Fashioned, Moscow Mule, and Negroni are timeless beverages, perfect in their authentic form, they can easily be modified to fit the ever-changing palates of today. With a few simple steps and ingredient substitutions or additions, you can transform a legendary cocktail into a mixologist-inspired creation with a personal touch.
The art of blending old favorites with new ideas will never go out of style. After all, there is always room to make a classic even more interesting than the original.