Tired of that thousandth Long Island Iced Tea? No more apple martinis say you? Here are 5 classic cocktail recipes that you should become very familiar with. Now. Come back and thank us later.
1. The Sidecar
There are tons of stories out there in regards to the origins of this drink. What we do now is that it originated in Paris during the first World War. The version we like says that the drink was created by a Parisian military officer who rode back and forth in a chauffeur-driven motorcycle sidecar to drink this cocktail at a bar. Sweet from the Cointreau, cool and refreshing from the lemon, strong from the cognac - God bless that Parisian officer for combining all three. In a Cocktail Shaker with ice, combine the following:
- 2 oz V.S.O.P. grade Cognac ( Hennessy Privelege)
- 1 oz cointreau
- 1 oz fresh lemon juice (no substitute)
Optional sugar rim, shake all three ingredients and strain into a chilled martini glass. A votre sante!
Now that you've had a few Sidecars, here's another one you should become familiar with. This is by far our favorite. A couple of these and it may very well become yours too. Easy on the palate, fresh and citrusy from the lemon juice. A very strong subtle undertone from the brandy and rum, subdued in a very good way by the Cointreau and lemon. A very superb combination of all elements.
In a cocktail shaker with ice, combine:
- 1.5 oz brandy ( Martell V.S.O.P.)
- 1.5 oz white rum (Havana Club)
- 1/2 oz fresh lemon juice (no substitutes)
- 1/2 oz Cointreau
- 1/4 oz simple syrup (optional)
Shake all ingredients and strain into a chilled martini glass.
So far you've had the Sidecar and the Between the Sheets. Now I'd like to introduce you to Tom Collins. if you haven't met already. Not to be confused with his cousins John, Joe, Mike, Jack, Sandy, Pedro or Pierre (you'll meet the rest of the Collins' family in due time).
Tom Collins is called so because this cocktail was traditionally made with Old Tom Gin, a sweetened London dry gin rarely seen on the market today.
Think of a Tom Collins as supercharged lemonade - perfect for a hot summer day. This is traditionally a "tall drink", because it is usually
served in a tall glass (a Collins glass) that can
hold anywhere from 12 - 16 oz.
Here's how to make a superior one.
Fill a Collins glass with ice all the way to the
2 oz Gin (Bombay Sapphire)
1 oz fresh lemon juice (no substitutes)
1/4 oz simple syrup
dash of bitters (Angostura)
Fill with Club Soda. Optional lemon garnish. Stir with a straw. Kick back and ponder.
So far you've had a Sidecar, tasted a Between the Sheets and met Tom Collins. Without further ado - drum roll please, let me introduce you to the Booth's Gin cocktail competition first prize winner - The Red Lion. Oh and the year was 1933. But trust us, there's nothing old school about this cocktail.
The Red Lion was created by a British barman, Arthur Tarling. The drink was soon adopted by Grand Marnier for promotional use in the 30's and is actually still being promoted up to now as you can see from their website. That's been over 70 years! Talk about a cocktail with staying power.
In a Boston shaker with ice, combine:
2 oz Gin (Tanqueray #10)
1 oz fresh lemon juice (no subsitutes)
1/2 oz Grand Marnier
1/2 oz Grenadine
Strain into a chilled martini glass.
Optional sugar rim.
Setting up a home bar is all about having the right equipment and ingredients. In the first part of this series, we'll cover the essential utensils you'll need. Part 2 will cover glassware and Part 3 will cover liquor.
Stock up on these essentials and don't cut corners on quality. You'll soon be the toast of your town, or city, or suburb...
- A Boston Shaker. This is the professional version that most bars use. 2 pieces, a pint-size mixing glass and a stainless steel shaker cup. We prefer this type over the more common 3 piece stainless steel types because the clear glass in the Boston Shaker allows you to see what you're mixing and let's you know if your proportions are right. We like the Rosle Boston Shaker. Get a Boston Shaker here.
- A Hawthorn Strainer. A basic strainer shaped like a spoon with a spring edge. The Hawhorn Strainer ensures that you don't get any bits of ice in your drinks. Fits over any size glass. Always strain your drinks from the mixing tin. This way if you're off on your measurements, nobody else will be the wiser. Get one here as part of the Oxo 7 Piece Stainless Steel barware set.
- A Jigger. For measuring. Most usually have 1 oz on one side, and 1/2 oz on the other side, sometimes also called a double jigger. You'll want to use one of these until you've mastered freehand pouring. Get one here as part of the Oxo 7 Piece Stainless Steel barware set.
- Pour spouts. After you've become comfortable mixing a few cocktails, you might want to consider using a pour spout. Pour spouts allow you to mix your drinks faster, because you don't lose time measuring and you don't want to keep your patrons waiting. There are all kinds of pour spouts out there, even ones that measure for you when you pour. We don't like these because they can interfere with your rhythm when you're pouring. Look for the Spill Stop Model #285-50, it's a professional standard. Buy a couple - because it's a bad idea to switch pour spouts without washing them first, and remember to always re-cap your bottles with the original caps. This way your premium hooch doesn't go up in smoke. Get a set of 12 Spill Stop 285 here.
- A sharp knife. Important for preparing garnishes and slicing those lemons and limes.
- A citrus stripper / zester. The sharp head removes the pith from citrus fruits and the side knife gives you that perfect twist everytime.
- A chopping board. Get one here as part of the Oxo 7 Piece Stainless Steel barware set.
- Swizzle sticks (for stirring long drinks), a long bar spoon and straws.
- Citrus Press. This is an essential part of your home bar - because nothing but freshly squeezed juice will do. That means no canned juices or store bought mixes. This stainless steel model from Nor-pro is an excellent choice.
- Get one here.
- A wooden muddler. To crush fruit and bruise herbs. Have no mercy. Get it here
- A Waiter's Knife. A multi-purpose tool which usually contains a knife, cork screw and can opener. Our money is on this model from Victorinox, the company that gave us Swiss Army. Yours should be too. Get one here.
- A Blender. How else are you going to make those margarita's? This one's a Consumer Reports Best Buy - that's good enough for us. Get it here.
Honorable Mention #1: This manual juicer from Hamilton Beach. A tad more expensive but worth every penny. It's the commercial version you'll find in any top class bar. Worth every cent when you're whipping up a killer cocktail. Get a Hamilton Beach Manual Juicer here.
Honorable Mention #2: The Oxo 7 Piece Stainless Steel Barware Set is one of the most trimmest and elegant sets around, containing just about everything you might need for a basic home bar.
In Part 1 we covered basic utensils and barware - items such as Boston shakers, Hawthorn strainers, muddlers etc.
Now it's time to take a look at the second part in our home bar series, glassware. Buy the best quality you can afford, and always wash glassware by hand to prevent chips and cloudy build-ups. Stick to the sizes shown so that your drinks look right in the appropriate glassware. Bottoms up!
1. Martini glass: 4 - 6 oz
2. Old fashioned / rock glass: 8 - 10 oz
3. Collins glass: 10 - 12 oz
4. Champagne flutes: 5 - 8 oz
5. Wine glass: 10 - 14 oz
6. Shot glass: 1 0z
7. Cordial glass: 2 oz
8. Brandy snifters: 9 - 12 oz
9. Margarita glass: 9 - 11 oz
Subtract and add at your leisure. At the very least you'll need martini glasses, old-fashioned glasses and Collins glasses for a basic bar setup.