Lifestyle: Bring Back the Classics and Keep it Classy — Classic Cocktails that Never Get Old
St. Patrick’s Day’s celebration ended days ago, the spoiled beer smell from the neighborhood bars still lingers around the corner. It sure was a lot of Guinness and green beer consumed in one day!! But as a true New Yorkers, we party hard, work harder, and then we’re ready to party hard again. St Patrick Day is not going to slow us down from attending the next event that’s overflowed with alcohols. Since I’ve done my share of beer this week, I thought I’d go with cocktails for the rest of the events this week. Cocktails in New York are just like fashion, the trendy flavors come and go, and sometimes they’re gone before a fashion season is over… (in that case, I guess there’s a reason why it didn’t last long)… but no worries, here are some classic cocktails that are tested and proven over time that they’re not just tasty but also underrated and deserve to be ordered more often. And they don’t only exist in fancy bars, when I want to impress my friends when they come over, these are easy enough to make at home too:
1). Negroni on the Rocks
I remember when I was bartending, if somebody orders a Negroni from me, I’d instantly think the customer is European. Negroni is not the most known drink here, but it has been around and actually quite popular in Italy. Italians seemed to understand bitterness and craft perfect drinks with bitter elements much better than Americans. I like Nigronis served over ice – there are hints of sweet from Campari, gin and vermouth, but also bitterness from both Campari and vermouth, and just enough acidity to bring the flavor to the perfect balance. It is definitely a well structured drink, and the aroma improves with each sip! Before you think you can’t get use to it, you’re addicted to it.
Negroni (serves 1)
One part Gin
One part Sweet Vermouth (Vermouth Rosso)
One part Campari (or bitter of your choice)
Pour the liquors in to a rock glass over ice, stir lightly, and garnish with an orange peel.
2). Whiskey Sour
A friend of mine told me that only people who don’t understand or appreciate real whiskey drinks Whiskey Sour. I was so young and naive, I never ordered a whiskey sour because I didn’t want to look stupid. Little did I know, a properly shaken sour is such a wonderful piece of art. Especially when garnished with the appropriate measure of bitters which gives a beautiful presentation to this classic cocktail – the warming sensation of the whiskey with the crisp, velvety refreshment of the egg white and citrus, topping of with just enough sweetness – I can not think of another drink that fits every season so perfectly!
Whiskey Sour (serves 1)
2 ounces whiskey
¾ freshly squeezed lemon juice
¾ ounce simple syrup
1 egg white
1 dash angostura bitters
Fill a cocktail shaker with ice, add whiskey, lemon juice, simple syrup and egg white and shake vigorously for 10-15 seconds. Pour into a cocktail glass, garnish with bitters and serve.
Gimlet is a cocktail that I can confidently recommend to pretty much any customers or friends and know that they would enjoy the drink. It is the simplicity that makes this cocktail so elegant and classy. Traditionally it is made with London dry gin like Beefeater or Tanqueray, but for non-gin drinkers, there are other variations, too. I often make it with vodka or tequila; it gives a different character to the cocktail with the same essence and freshness. The key to make this cocktail a success — only use fresh lime juice and simple syrup. Also, a pinch of quality sea salt will heightens the expressiveness of the classic drink and take the flavor to the next level!
Gimpet (serves 1)
1 ½ ounce Gin, Vodka or Tequila
½ ounce fresh lime juice
½ ounce simple syrup
All all ingredients to an ice-filled shaker. Shake and strain into a cocktail glass or serve it on ice. Garnish with lime.
I never knew about the drink until fairly recent, little did I know it is an age old classic cocktail. The Vieux Carré is basically a split-base Manhattan (Cognac + rye), with sweet vermouth, two bitters (Peychaud’s and Angostura), with a whisper of the gloriously elegant herbal liqueur Benedictine to top off the flavors. It has all the spice and heft of a Manhattan, but now with an extra touch of gorgeous floral and fruit notes— it’s almost like a grownup version of Manhattan, as if Manhattan is not already a grownup drink.
Vieux Carre (serves 1, listed with the brands I use)
1 ounce Rittenhouse Rye 100
1 ounce Pierre Ferrand Ambre Cognac
¾ ounce Carpano Antica Sweet Vermouth
2 dashes Angostura Bitters
2 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters
Rinse a chilled rock glass with Benedictine, then apply two dashes of both bitters. Lower a large ice cube into the glass. Add rye, cognac and sweet vermouth and stir around the ice gently for about 5 seconds. Garnish with cherry and lemon twist.
And that’s my list of classic cocktails. Of course, there are still occasions I like to try a special mojito or have a Moscow Mule like the rest of the cool kids, but when I’m not impressed with the cocktail list at the bar or restaurant, I know I can always count on these classics. It’s been a long week, can’t wait to go out and grab a cocktail this weekend. Happy Friday Eve, Y’all!!