by Noella Schink, Guest Blogger for the Menuism.com Cocktails Blog
In a sea of neon-lit clubs slinging new-fangled, cavity-inducing shooters topped with cream, blue goo and flames, there are few cocktails still considered classics. If you are going to travel thousands of miles around the world, be sure you are sipping a legitimate libation and not some bright purple, sugar-rimmed, upside-down-cake named abomination. The following drinks have withstood the test of time and will never go out of style, unlike the "bombs" and "slammers" of today's bar culture. Far from your grandfather's Manhattan at happy hour, these brews still taste great, but will knock your socks off if you don't imbibe responsibly.
The Sazerac -- USA
Touted as the oldest cocktail in the United States, the Sazerac has been a bar staple since the mid-19th century. It all started when a Cognac called Sazerac-de-Forge et Fils was imported from France to the Merchants Exchange Coffee House (later called the Sazerac House) in New Orleans. The owner developed the drink using the Cognac, absinthe, a cube of sugar and bitters from the apothecary down the street, Antoine Amedie Peychaud. In the 1880s there was an epidemic of phylloxera in France, stunting the grape crops and temporarily cutting off the supply of Sazerac Cognac, so local rye was substituted. Since absinthe was banned in the U.S. in 1915, other anise-flavored spirits were subbed, like Pernod, Herbsait and Chartreuse. Today you can find the perfect Sazerac at Napoleon House in the French Quarter of New Orleans.
-To make one yourself, chill a rocks glass with ice. In a second glass, muddle one cube of sugar with three dashes Peychaud's Bitters.
-Add 2 ounces Rye whiskey and stir.
-Take the first glass and dump the ice. Add a few drops of Pernod, swirl to coat the glass, then discard the excess Pernod.
-Pour the Rye and bitters from the second glass into the Pernod-washed glass and garnish with a twist of lemon.
The Dark 'n Stormy -- Bermuda
What started as a sailor's grog is now widely known as a tangy refresher in Britain, Australia and, of course, Bermuda, where it originated in the late 19th century. Gosling's began production of its Black Seal Rum in 1860, and the British Royal Navy men were sharp enough to mix it with spicy ginger beer over ice. The resulting beverage was such an instant hit that Gosling's has copyrighted the ingredients and name. A wedge of lime is an optional modifier some cocktailians consider a perfect brightener in the drink, but what matters most is the Gosling's rum. Black as night, with a subtle charred flavor, it is like no other brand you'll find. And don't even bother trying to substitute ginger ale -- you'll be greatly disappointed! For the real deal, visit the Swizzle Inn, Bailey's Bay, Bermuda. Stateside, find your Dark 'n Stormy fix in Silvertone, downtown Boston.
-Add 2 ounces Gosling's Black Seal Rum to a highball glass with cracked ice.
-Top with about 3 ounces ginger beer, to taste.
-Garnish with a lime wedge (optional but recommended).
The Pisco Sour--Peru/Chile
Peru and Chile have been fighting over the Pisco Sour for decades, but let's let them both have their moment in the spotlight of this list. In the 16th century, settlers from Spain brought a smooth, luscious grape brandy called Pisco to South America. Some say Peru gets automatic dibs because it was probably named for the port Pisco, where the ships landed, but as I said, we aren't going to quibble over proprietary rights. The Pisco Sour came about around 1916; maybe it was Victor Morris in Lima or perhaps it was Elliot Stubb in Iquique who was savvy enough to mix Pisco with lemon, sugar and egg white. Either way, the result was a smooth, aromatic, perfect cocktail. The self-proclaimed best in Lima can be found at Las Huaringas, Miraflores, Lima. For a Pisco Sour that's not quite so far flung, try Ceviche 105 in Miami.
-Add 2 ounces Pisco, 1 ounce Lisbon or Eureka lemon juice, a dash of simple syrup and an egg white to a shaker.
-Fill with ice and shake vigorously.
-Strain into an Old Fashioned glass and top with a dash of bitters.
When crème de cassis (black currant liqueur) became commercially available in the early 1840s, the Kir was born. Originally called a Blanc-cassis, Bourgogne Aligote white wine from Burgundy was used to top the pretty pink liqueur. Made popular by Mayor Felix Kir of Dijon after WWII, when red wine from the region was scarce, he offered it up to international delegations in an effort to promote two of Burgundy's major products. In modern times, the Kir Royale is popular (substituting Champagne for the white wine), along with the Kir Breton, (subbing Breton cider) and the Kir Pêche, (swapping peach liqueur for the crème de cassis). Michelin Star-rated Restaurant Stéphane Derbord in Dijon is an excellent, albeit extravagant spot to try your Kir. In NYC, visit the Pegu Club for an exquisite cocktail experience.
-In a white wine glass, add 1 ounce crème de cassis.
-Top with the white wine
This gin cocktail came to be in 1919, when Count Camillo Negroni requested something special at Caffe Casoni in Florence (now Café Cavalla). He wanted an Americano, but instead of soda water, he thought gin might fortify him more thoroughly. The bartender served the drink with a flamed orange twist as a final flourish, impressing the Count and securing the recipe a spot in classic cocktail-dom. This bitter yet aromatic drink gained popularity and the Negroni family even marketed a pre-mixed, bottled version of the drink called Antico Negroni 1919. Almost medicinal, this cocktail is known as an effective digestive aid. For a lighter version, try a Negroni sbagliato, made with prosecco instead of gin. Head straight to the start of it all in Florence at Negroni Bar, where all of the classic and modern variations will be available. Closer to home, San Francisco's Kuleto's authentic Italian restaurant will wow you with its Hendrick's gin version of the Negroni.
-Mix 1 ounce gin, 1 ounce Campari and 1 ounce sweet vermouth in a rocks glass.
-Add ice and stir.
-Garnish with an orange twist, and flame the twist for extra showmanship.
Noella Schink is a classically trained bartender from Portland, Maine. She had an enlightening, albeit gruff mentor, John Myers, who has been gracing the Northeast United States with his unparalleled mixological savvy for over 20 years. Noella now writes about the food and drink she fancies from her travels to Canada, the Caribbean, New Zealand and the UK. Wherever she needs a hotel booking during her escapades she looks to Excellent Hotels, a site to which she contributes.
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