Cranberry Mojitos, Dirty Martinis, Frozen Mango Margaritas…none of these cocktails existed when your parents (for Baby Boomers and Gen X) or grandparents (for everyone else) had their first cocktails. None would be featured on “Mad Men.”
How many people do you know who have even had a Daiquiri, Old Fashioned or Tom Collins? A retro cocktail party may be just the thing to introduce them to tippling in the good old days.
So banish the Cosmopolitans for an evening, and turn back the clock with a menu of five classic cocktails. These famous oldies date to the 1800s:
1. Daiquiri: Ernest Hemingway’s favorite cocktail combines rum, lime juice and simple syrup, shaken and served neat.
2. Dry Martini: This combination of gin and dry vermouth is garnished with an olive or lemon twist garnish. The less vermouth, the drier the Martini. People who wanted to drink straight gin could ask for just a splash of it. It’s the only cocktail in this group that isn’t sweet. From early times, people used sugar to mitigate the hard edge of the alcohol.
The Manhattan was created in the 1870s by a New York bartender whose name is lost to history. Photo courtesy Ruth’s Chris Steak House.
3. Manhattan: This classic whiskey cocktail, dating to the 1870s, is made with bourbon or rye and sweet vermouth, served in a rocks glass and garnished with a maraschino cherry. A gin-based version is the Martinez, another oldie made with sweet vermouth, bitters and the cherry. That recipe was first published in 1887, attributed to a bar in Martinez, California.
4. Old Fashioned: Bourbon based and served in a rocks glass, sugar, bitters and an orange slice are muddled in the glass; ice and bourbon are then added. The term originated with late 19th century bar patrons, to distinguish cocktails made the “old-fashioned” way from newer, more complex cocktails.
5. Tom Collins: A tall drink of dry gin, lemon juice, sugar syrup and soda water, garnished with a maraschino cherry and a lemon slice. The recipe was first published in 1876. There was no particular Tom Collins for whom it was named; rather, “Tom Collins” was an everyman name referenced in conversation, along the lines of John Smith and John Doe.
6. Mint Julep: Not just for Kentucky Derby parties, this tall glass of muddled mint and sugar syrup, crushed ice and bourbon deserves attention year-round. It originated in the South in the 1800. A julep is generally defined “as a sweet drink, particularly one used as a vehicle for medicine.”*