Published February 15, 2013
Six retro cocktails to try this year
6 retro cocktails to try this year
One way in which society has deemed it appropriate for men to express their manhood is the drinking of old-timey manly drinks. With that in mind, put down that martini, blow half your salary on gin and whiskey, and get ready to take a walk to the bar in your grandpa’s manly, manly shoes.
Invented in World War I, this drink was reportedly invented for a sick American Army captain in France, who was carted to and from the bar in a sidecar. Naturally, he wasn’t sipping on Dayquil to cure what ailed him – instead, his bartender mixed him up the essentials to curing a common cold: vitamin C and brandy. Today you will find the “French school” calls for equal parts cognac, Cointreau, and lemon juice, whereas the "English school" calls for two parts cognac and one part each of Cointreau and lemon juice. Both schools agree on looking extremely dapper while drinking.
This cult favorite was invented by Hugo Ensslin, the author of 1916’s Recipes for Mixed Drinks, and head bartender at Times Square’s Hotel Wallick. Ensslin’s original recipe - 2 oz. gin, 0.5 oz. lemon juice, 2 tsp. maraschino liqueur, and 1 tsp. crème de violette - makes for a rather sour, but surprisingly robust drink. And before you go scoffing about maraschino cherries, you should know that Maraschino liqueur is very different from those things you’d put in a kiddie cocktail – it’s pressed from the stems and seeds of Italian marasca cherries, tastes bittersweet, and is clear (not red, sweet, and packed with sugar and childlike naivety). When ordering, make sure the bartender doesn’t skimp on the crème de violette either, as this adds a light blue tinge to the drink that looks pleasingly disconcerting.
Perhaps older than the word “cocktail” itself, the Sazerac dates back to pre-Civil War New Orleans. With a deep history rooted in both Louisiana and cocktail tradition, the Sazerac is perhaps most distinguished by its unique preparation. First, you take two chilled old-fashioned glasses, and swirl one with a wash of absinthe for a light taste and a strong smell. Then you use the second chilled glass to muddle in one tsp. sugar along with three dashes of Peychaud’s Bitters, and a healthy slug of rye. Then, pour or strain the contents of the second glass into the first, twist a lemon over it and rub the rim with the peel. This drink is about as old as cocktails get, so if your philosophy is “age is manliness”, you can pretty much stop here.
The Last Word
Like any real athletic club, the Detroit Athletic Club served up boozy performance enhancers during the prohibition era. One of these was The Last Word, a cocktail that, really, could probably pass for Gatorade in a pinch. Consisting of one part gin, one part lime juice, one part green Chartreuse, and one part maraschino liqueur, this cocktail is served with ice and strained into a cocktail glass. The Last Word quickly drifted back into obscurity after World War II, but Murray Stenson, owner of the Zig Zag Café in Seattle, rediscovered it in the classic cocktail book Bottoms Up! by Ted Saucier. Since then, this retro cocktail has become a cult hit in cafés, bars, and athletic clubs alike.
Corpse Reviver #2
Today, when people think “hair of the dog”, they think Bloody Mary or mimosa (or Claritin, if you’re being literal). But order a Corpse Reviver #2 on a foggy Saturday morning and you’ll feel like one classy beast. Consisting of equal parts gin, lemon juice, triple sec, Kina Lillet, and a “wash” of absinthe similar to the Sazerac, the ingredients are shaken in a mixer with ice, and strained into your chilled, absinthe-washed glass. Go ahead, push that hangover onto future you – that guy totally deserves it!
The Boulevardier’s history is a little fuzzy, much like the taste of this warming cocktail. It first appeared as the “Old Pal”, made with rye whiskey, French vermouth, and Campari in Harry MacElhone’s 1922 book ABC of Mixing Cocktails. However, when he published his next book, Barflies and Cocktails, he seemingly swapped rye for bourbon and renamed it “The Boulevardier.” In any case, this cocktail is adored by many connoisseurs, and pairs nicely with a dank, dimly lit oasis where people read leather-bound books, ignore the smoking ban, and eat red meat. Fill a cocktail shaker or mixing glass with one part bourbon whiskey, one part Campari, one part sweet vermouth, and stir gently while making intense eye contact with a stranger. Then pour the mix into a chilled coupe or over ice in a rocks glass, garnish with an orange twist, and let your mustache grow to the desired thickness.