They should be called sugary concoctions from hell.
Now before I sound too snobby, please keep in mind that I’m the type of guy who guzzles Coke while eating pizza and watching trashy 80s movies while wearing fur-covered cat pajamas – it’s just that I also happen to love classic cocktails.
Cocktails that can be subtle, dry, bitter, strong, or smoky.
Cocktails that actually taste like liquor, rather than spiked soft drinks.
You see, we’re in an odd situation where a large proportion of bartenders have an impressive knowledge of cocktails, to the point where they can make arcane potions most people never even heard of – and yet, because good cocktails are often an acquired taste, most cocktail menus list saccharine concoctions that are easier to sell instead.
However, I’m not in the business of selling anything other than my soul – and so I suggest that you tear up the menu the next time you walk into a bar and demand one of these cocktails instead:
This is the king of all cocktails, a drink that rarely makes it on any cocktail menu despite its reputation amongst bartenders as one of the best drinks known to man or cat.
Made with cognac (or rye whiskey, or a 50/50 combination of both), Peychaud’s bitters, an absinthe wash and sugar, this is the archetypal cocktail, a drink that embraces the spirit and is spicy, aromatic, balanced and complex, a drink that’s pretty frickin hard to describe but easy to get drunk on. Order one from a good bar – and if you don’t like it, then order another and repeat. If after five sazeracs you still have not acquired the taste then I would please ask that you never return to this site again. Provided, that is, you can still stand upright.
2) Old Fashioned
This classic cocktail is all about the two loves of my life (other than cats): hard spirits and bitters. An Old Fashioned is made from dousing sugar in bitters, adding a single spirit (ie rye whiskey or bourbon), and stirring with ice until it’s as cold as my ex-girlfriends’ hearts. Ok, some of my exes were actually pretty cool – but I wanted to say that line anyway. Add an orange twist and voila – you have the simplest, most elegant cocktail known to Dan.
Forget that whole shaken or stirred argument. It’s bullshit. All you need to know is this: you need one part dry vermouth for two parts gin, and you need vermouth that’s just been opened or has been refrigerated. Once you get this right, everything else is a technicality best left to the cocktail-equivalent of trainspotters. A martini is a clean, simple, elegant drink and it’s ridiculous that so many people have made it seem more complex than it is.
The femme fatale of cocktails, the negroni’s bittersweet combination of herbal and citrus flavours – derived from mixing Campari, sweet vermouth and gin in equal parts – are seductive, enchanting, and will ruin you for other cocktails. Ok, so maybe my prose was a little over the top for that one – but I adore this drink.
5) Whiskey Sour
The combination of lemon juice, sugar, bitters and spirits is one of the all time classic formulas that can be adapted to create countless cocktails – and yet to me the Whiskey Sour will always be an unique, highly dysfunctional cocktail. My only disagreement with bartenders comes with the addition of egg white – they love to add it to make the drink smoother and frothy, whereas I find it interferes with the crisp, citrus aroma.
However, I am in the minority with this.
So that’s my top 5 list – but if I have any readers left on this blog (and I suspect I may have lost them all by now), then feel free to leave a comment below with your own suggestions: