Like it or not, you are what you drink. And if you're drinking an electric blue concoction with a paper umbrella sticking jauntily from a few chunks of random citrus, you may have an image problem on your hands. After all, how are you supposed to appear sophisticated and masculine while sipping a neon green appletini that makes your breath smell like Jolly Ranchers?
The answer, quite simply, is that you can't.
Luckily, adding testosterone to one's drinking habits is fairly easy. We simply look to our forefathers. Our fathers, grandfathers and even our grandmothers, for that matter, didn't drink sugar-soaked monstrosities served in hollowed-out pineapples. No one ever caught Steve McQueen or Humphrey Bogart with a Cosmo or a frozen Margarita. They downed some of the most badass cocktails in history. The following are some of the manliest drinks ever created in mankind's limited time on this Earth - drinks that let the world know that the creature sitting at this bar is someone to be reckoned with.
The Rusty Nail
The Rusty Nail's very name conjures imagery of dive bars and grizzled men ready to tear each others' throats out with jagged chunks of glass…or at least fond memories of Patrick Swayze in “Road House.” In reality, it's a mild drink that combines the gentle fire of Scotch with the herbal sweetness of Drambuie - a liqueur the combines a blend of herbs, more Scotch, and honey. It's a forgotten drink that's well-worth bringing back for its creamy, complex flavors, and just to say you're a Rusty Nail sort of guy.
• 1 ounce blended Scotch (Teacher's Highland Cream has enough bite and body to stand up to the thicker Drambuie and prevent the drink from getting too sweet)
• 1 ounce Drambuie
Fill a lowball glass with ice and pour the ingredients in. Give them a fast stir, drop a lemon twist in, and feel the cares of modern man slip away.
The Bloody Mary
The Bloody Mary's origins are a source of significant dispute, but a truly well-made one balances a complex mix of spices, heat, the sweet tang of good tomato juice and a sinus-clearing dose of horseradish. Plus, it's one of the few drinks society finds acceptable before noon. There's some debate as to whether the drink originally included beer or vodka, but I find that beer is more complex and the nuanced flavor beats vodka hands down for what it brings to the table.
Traditionally, it's a fairly simple drink, consisting of two ounces of beer (or vodka), a tall glass of ice and tomato juice, a dash of celery salt, black pepper, Tabasco, Worcestershire sauce, horseradish to taste and lemon juice. But Mitch Omer, the chef and owner of Hell's Kitchen in Minneapolis has taken the drink to a new level - a version of his recipe is below.
• 1 cup tomato juice (Omer makes his own tomato juice, but for most, a can of Tasty Tom's Spicy Tomato Juice will work just fine)
• 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
• 1 teaspoon lemon pepper
• 1 teaspoon celery salt
• 1 teaspoon ginger puree*
• ¾ teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
• ½ teaspoon Tabasco sauce
• ¼ teaspoon horseradish
• 1/3 teaspoon minced garlic
• 2 ounces beer (Anchor Steam provides a perfect bitter counterpoint to the sweetness and spice of the mix)
Mix all ingredients together in a glass. Fill a separate tall glass with ice and beer. Once the head disappears, add the tomato juice mixture to the glass and stir. Add a pickle spear, a stalk of celery and a cherry tomato or two for garnish. Real men do eat their vegetables, after all.
*To make ginger puree, heat 1 cup grated fresh ginger, .5 cups granulated sugar and the juice of half a lemon in a saucepan until almost all the moisture evaporates. Once it does, let it cool and place in a food processor or blender and puree till it's smooth. It'll keep refrigerated up to a month.
A drinker's drink, the Negroni combines gin, vermouth, bitters and Campari to create a cocktail designed to be downed on an empty stomach - ostensibly to stimulate the appetite and promote digestion. Aimed at what some might call a sophisticated palate, it's a drink you won't have to share very often because it does take some getting used to. But for those who enjoy their drinks strong and bracing, the sweetly herbal bitter flavors combined with the deep ruby tones of the cocktail can be incredibly seductive. Plus, it lends a man a certain continental sensibility, which never hurts.
• 1 ounce gin (a heavily herbal gin like Plymouth works nicely with the bitter Campari)
• 1 ounce Campari
• ¾ ounce sweet vermouth
Combine the ingredients in a shaker full of ice and give a few good hard shakes. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass or a lowball filled with ice - whichever you prefer. Often garnished with cherries, avoid attempting to tie stem knots with your tongue, it completely ruins the whole “subtle sophistication” effect you're going for.
The Blue Blazer
The name may sound preppy, but the Blue Blazer is the undisputed king of badass drinks because it's on fire - literally. Like most of the classics, the drink is brutally simple, just rye, boiling water, powdered sugar and lemon peel, but the mixing is where it gets complicated. The cocktail is set ablaze and the poured back and forth between two large silver-plated mugs with handles. Only the best and brightest bartenders in the country have ever made one, and they certainly won't do it on a packed ladies night. And while trying to make one at home is probably one of the worst ideas of all time - what's more traditionally male than doing something stupid for the sake of looking cool? After all, there's no way to top drinking a cocktail that was, just moments before, liquid fire. If you do take a shot at Blue Blazer fame, please keep a fire extinguisher handy.
• 2 ½ ounces rye whiskey (preferably a high proof rye, like Rittenhouse 100 proof – it burns better)
• 2 ½ ounces boiling water
• 1 teaspoon powdered sugar
• lemon peel
Take two silver plated mugs with handles (most other materials won't hold up well to the heat and flames) and pour the whiskey into one, the boiling water in the other. Ignite the rye and pour into the mug of water. Continue pouring back and forth to mix, not to mention look all sorts of cool while juggling a freakin' stream of fire.