The Moscow Mule was birthed in the late '30s as a marketing strategy to introduce vodka to American audiences. And it dies right now.
Cocktail trends come and go quicker than lazy barbacks, so to take the pulse of the industry, we asked 15 renowned bartenders to share which cocktails they think deserve to be called on more often, and which you should never call back. So although there's nothing actually wrong with a well-stirred copper mug of vodka, mint, and ginger, next time you're at the bar, try ordering a Negroni on ice or a sherry cocktail. You may earn yourself that all-important bartender nod of approval.
DALE "KING COCKTAIL" DEGROFF
Overrated: Negroni served up
"American bartenders have damaged this Italian classic by serving it up in a cocktail glass. The first sip is the best, and with each successive sip, the bitterness becomes more and more apparent as the drink warms. Eventually the balance of the drink skews more bitter and we lose the lovely gin and vermouth notes, and thus the complexity."
Underrated: Negroni over ice in a double Old-Fashioned glass
"Italians understand bitterness and how to craft perfect drinks with bitter elements. The Negroni served over ice cubes in a double Old-Fashioned glass (or bucket glass, as it is referred to by some of the old-timers out west), improves with each sip. I used the plural cubes because it is dilution that mellows the bitter notes, creating a more interesting marriage of the gin, vermouth, and Campari. A lesson that can be applied to other bitters-based stirred drinks."
JARED SHEPARD - EVELYN DRINKERY (New York, NY)
Overrated: Vesper Martini
"I don't find the drink very interesting, nor do I find James Bond's treatment of the drink (shaken until ice cold rather than stirred) particularly erudite. Then again, I don't like ice chips in my drink. But James Bond can't be wrong, can he?"
"This one is tougher, because who's doing the rating? I think a Negroni, measured precisely, and stirred to the right dilution, is basically the perfect cocktail. There are hints of sweet from the Campari, the gin, and sweet vermouth (I prefer a bitter vermouth like Punt e Mes), but also bitterness from both the Campari and vermouth, and good acidity from the vermouth. All parts lend to the round viscosity of the drink. It's got great balance. I don't think enough people appreciate Negronis, but then again, there are probably millions who do. Oh, and Americanos. More people should drink Americanos. Especially at the beginning or end of the night."
JIM MEEHAN - PDT (New York, NY)
Overrated: Any drink with OJ
"I'm proud of my Blood and Sand recipe. I enjoy an Applejack Rabbit once every fall. I still wonder why the Bronx Cocktail was popular during its time. I view the Screwdriver as an alcoholic vitamin C delivery vehicle and nothing more. What do all these things have in common? Orange juice. It has a tangy quality that I do not prefer in cocktails, and I'm not alone on this one."
Underrated: Gin and Tonic
"I don't think the Gin and Tonic is under appreciated, as much as taken for granted. Anyone can make a Gin and Tonic. But very few people consider the botanicals in the gin, and choose a tonic water suited to accentuate them. Most don't think about the gin's strength, and the imbiber's palate before deciding what ratio of gin to tonic to use (I measure the tonic water with a jigger too). A two ingredient cocktail should be terrifying, not disarming. It forces you to consider using a nicer glass, straw, and ice to make up for its seeming simplicity. What about the garnish: do you squeeze the lime wedge for the guest or just affix it to the rim of the glass? In Spain, where this is the most popular drink, they serve it in a wine glass with a lemon, not a lime. Lots to consider."
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