I guess you may be asking yourself “what the hell am I going to do tonight?!”
With everything going on in the world right now, the hope of a regular night out as you know it doesn’t look very promising… and at some point, you’re going to need your fix.
Place it this way, it’s Friday night, or maybe Tuesday? Fuck, wait... What day is it again? Anyway, you probably haven’t been out for 23 days and the only beverages you’ve had so far are a fight between cider, beers and left-over wine. Maybe goon? If you can even call that a drink…
You’re craving a real drink. Something a bit nice, that could even take you back to your favorite bar and out of your messy, living room, isolation reality. Trust me, you’re not on your own! I feel your pain.
Luckily for you, I’ve taken it upon myself to create a little how-to on 9 easy classic cocktails that you can make at the comfort of your own home, plus one of my creations, so you can feel a bit fancy.
Each recipe card below will detail the tools required to craft your cocktail. I’ve also added a little snapshot on the cocktail’s history – because why not learn a little something extra while we’re at it?!
You may find different variations of the measurements I’ve used for the classic cocktails. These are simply the measurements I’ve adjusted to and chosen through my different experiences in hospitality over the years. They obviously are not a standard, but between us, they are very yummy this way.
I hope you’ll enjoy!
TO GET STARTED
Measurements: If you don’t have a jigger, you could use measuring cups or jugs. If you are able to find something that can measure as little as 10ml that would be cool, or you can make the necessary calculations and whip yourself up a 1L Espresso Martini.
Shaker: There are a thousand things you can use in place of a cocktail shaker, as long as it can hold liquid + ice. Water bottle, protein shaker bottle, jam pot… etc. as long as you can close it, you’ll be fine. Always fill up the ice to the top. You don’t want too much air into your shaker
Mixing Glass: This one will help us to stir our drinks. If you are a Negroni or Old-Fashioned aficionado, this one will be your best mate. Like the shakers, it needs to be filled with liquid and ice so, make sure it’s big enough. The only difference is you won’t need the lid.
Bar spoons: A bar spoon would be useful for churning drinks, such as a Mojito, but also stirring drinks in the mixing glass (of your choice). To churn, I would advise you to use a teaspoon. To stir, a long (preferably not too large) knife would be good. If you have chopsticks even better!
Strainer: if you use your protein shaker, you may have a strainer included. If not, your pasta strainer will do it. If you pour slowly and you are on top of your glass, it shouldn’t spill.
The other option (and I would choose this one), would be to use a tablespoon to stop the ice from falling into the drink when pouring from the shaker to the glass.
Muddler: I’m sure you can think of something for this one.
Glassware: For this one let’s say that whatever you find will do!
This is where it may get slightly difficult, for some.
We will need different shapes of ice.
Thinking “what the hell is this guy on about?” Just read on.
Ice cubes: I guess you already have some. If not buy yourself a big bag.
Ice balls: you can make them by pouring a small amount of water in a balloon and let it sit in the freezer. Take it out, cut off the balloon, and voila! You got yourself an ice ball.
Crushed ice: If you want to do things the old school way, put your ice in a towel, twist it, smash the ice with something. If not, chuck some ice in a blender. Smashing it is a LOT more fun though.
Alright! That’s it! Now it’s time for you to find your recipe, get up off the couch and head to your nearest supermarket!
Don’t forget to wash your hands and maintain your distance!!
COCKTAIL RECIPE CARDS
Created in the late ’80s, there is no statement regarding its exact origin but one of the more common claims is that the drink would have been created for a young lady at the Fred’s Club in London, who asked the bartender for something that would "Wake me up, and then fuck me up."
Glassware: Coupette, Martini glass or maybe a Wine glass
30ml Cold drip coffee (can be easily bought at your favorite coffee shop)
20ml Coffee liqueur of your choice. I really like a brand called Massenez, but you are probably more familiar with something like Kahlua
1. Pour all the ingredients into your shaker
2. Shake hard, like very hard. You want it to be foamy and have a nice crema on the to
3. Strain into the Coupette
4. Garnish it with coffee beans or ground coffee.
There are 2 main components in this cocktail. Aperol and “Spritz”.
You may be wondering what the hell “Spritz” is?
It all goes back to 1805 and the iconic Napoleon wars. In the aftermath of the wars, Austria-Hungary took ownership of the Veneto region of northern Italy, where Venice is located. Austrians used to take the local Italian wine and add a splash, or in German, a “spritz” of water.
Over time the water turned to sparkling water, and the wine turned to liqueur.
In 1919, right after WW1, the liqueur Aperol was created. The brand gained popularity through the 1920s, and in the 1930s became a drink “for women and sportive people.” Advertisements around Italy marketed the drink as something to help the health-conscious stay “lean and fit”.
Only after WW2 in 1950, was it that Aperol capitalized on the spritz. With the simple 3-2-1 recipe of prosecco, Aperol, and soda water; the Aperol Spritz “King of all the Spritz”, was born.
30ml Soda water
1. Pour all your ingredients in the glass
2. Fill up with ice
3. Garnish with an orange wedge. If you have thyme, a little sprig of it in the glass will add more character to the drink.
Its creation has been credited to an American engineer by the name Jennings Stockton Cox. However, his creation has been strongly inspired by a Cuban beverage called Canchanchara.
Similar to a punch, it was made out of white rum, lime, honey and water.
Funny enough, it will always be made to serve 6 people. Call it an after-work relief, if you will, for miners.
To sum it up, Mr Cox went to Cuba, tried this punch and thought “Wow, I’ve gotta take this back home with me”. He then went to a bar and asked the bartender: “do you have this that and that“, the bartender said “yes“, and the rest is history! He gave him proportions to fit one glass and the Daiquiri was born.
Glassware: Coupette, Martini glass or maybe a Wine glass
60ml White Rum (preferably Bacardi as Bacardi was the 1st choice for Rum in Cuba)
30ml fresh lime juice
2 bar spoons (or 1 teaspoon) of caster sugar
1. Pour caster sugar and lime juice into a shaker
2. Stir the sugar so it can dissolve a bit
3. Add your Rum
4. Add a tiny bit of crushed ice and fill up with ice cubes
5. Shake hard
6. Strain into the Coupette.
There are many stories about how and when the margarita became THE Margarita.
But according to cocktail historian David Wondrich (big guy), our best guess is that the Margarita as we know it, has evolved from a cocktail known as the “Daisy.”
The Daisy was made simple as a mix of alcohol, citrus juice, and grenadine served over shaved ice. It was popular during the 1930s and 40s.
There were Gin Daisies and Whiskey Daisies and, eventually, inevitably, Tequila Daisies. A mix pretty similar to the Margarita we know; being tequila, orange liqueur, lime juice, and a splash of soda.
At some point, this Mexican-influenced Daisy became known by its Spanish name, Margarita, meaning Daisy in Spanish. Who would have thought?
According to the Oxford English Dictionary, the Margarita first appeared in print in English in 1965, though other sources point out that Margaritas were popping up in Jose Cuervo ads as early as 1945.
Glassware: Coupette, Martini glass or maybe a Wine glass
20ml lime juice
No fucking sugar please. Thank you, kindly.
1. Create a salt rim on the coupette. For this, cut a lime wage and rub it around the edge of the glass. Sprinkle salt on your coupette while turning the glass so you can cover the rim. Get rid of any salt flakes that could have fall in the glass.
2. Pour all the ingredients in shaker
3. Fill up with ice
4. Shake hard
5. Strain into the glass.
6. If you’d like, you can do like on the picture and have them on the rocks.
The Clover Club Cocktail is a drink that pre-dates Prohibition.
Named after a Philadelphia men’s club of the same name.
Published recipes of the Clover Club appeared during WW1 in 1917 to be exact.
It was one of the recipes explained in the book: The Ideal Bartender (1917) by Thomas Bullock.
The recipe was detailed on page 27: "Fill large Bar glass full Fine Ice. 2 pony Raspberry Syrup. 2 jigger Dry Gin. 1 jigger French Vermouth. White of 1 Egg. Shake well; strain into Cocktail glass and serve."
No messing around here.
20ml lemon juice
5ml of sugar or a pinch of caster sugar
1 egg white or 10ml of aquafaba (the water in chickpea cans)
1. Muddle your raspberries in your shaker
2. Pour in all the ingredients
3. If you use egg white, you have to do a dry shake (shaking without ice), and then shake with ice. If you use aquafaba just shake straight with ice!
4. Strain into your coupette
5. Garnish with 1 raspberry.
DARK AND STORMY
This is a drink that I’ve been serving a whole lot here in Sydney.
It has its origins sometime after World War I, in a Ginger Beer factory that was run by the Royal Naval Officer’s Club. The sailors had a good habit of splashing the local Gosling’s Black Seal rum into their Ginger Beer.
As for the name the “Dark ‘n Stormy”, it apparently came from a sailor who commented on the drink that it was the colour of a cloud only a fool or a dead man would sail under.
Glassware: Highball or some sort of tall glass you have laying around
60ml Dark Rum (preferably Gosling’s Black Seal)
Half a lime
1. Juice the lime into your glass
2. Fill up with ice
3. Pour the ginger beer to the top (not the very, very top but something like 4/5 of the glass)
4. Pour the Rum slowly on the top so you can make a layer
5. Garnish with a dehydrated lime or just simply the half lime you just used.
The Mojito is the kind of drink that bartenders love to hate.
The reason is that it takes time to make, it’s a pain to clean up with all the mint and limes stuck in the glass, and it’s ordered in quantities far too large by drinkers that most of the time forget there is actually alcohol in there.
A bit like our next cocktail > the Long Island Iced Tea.
Yet the Mojito remains one of the most popular cocktails, and for a solid reason: it’s a very, very good drink and it can be adapted in a million of different ways.
Regarding its history, there is a lot of rubbish and so many different stories but it is said that the original Mojito was a medicinal drink to curb disease on the island of Cuba, which makes sense when you look at other traditional South American drinks that became cocktails.
A moonshine rum-type alcohol will be mixed with mint, lime, and sugar cane syrup in order to ward off illness.
When pirates invaded Cuba in the 16th century, the drink was introduced to Pirate Drake, who replaced the Cuban moonshine with rum.
The drink took on the name El Draque, until it became it finally became the Mojito.
The word Mojito would be coming from Mojo: African word for magic.
When the African slaves got deported to America, they would have discovered that drink from the South American slaves and used “Mojo” that then became the Mojito!
I like to think they were absolutely wasted when this happened.
60ml of White Rum
7 to 10 mint leaves (to your taste)
3 bar spoon (about 1.5 tea spoon) of cane sugar or 15ml of sugar syrup
3 to 4 lime wedges
1. Put lime and mint into the glass first
2. Pour your sugar on top and muddle properly, so the juice comes out the limes and mixes with the other ingredients
3. Add your rum
4. Put a bit of crushed ice in your glass and churn with your bar spoon or any other spoon you have
5. Put about 2 splashes of soda water and top up with more crushed ice
6. I like to add a very tiny bit of apple juice to balance a bit more the citrus. But that’s up to you!
7. Garnish with a lime will and mint sprig!
8. Feel free to dabble with your mojito. It is very easy to play with. You can muddle fruits with it, you can add some Elderflower liqueur or make it with no alcohol…etc.
LONG ISLAND ICED TEA
A bartender called "Rosebud" aka Robert Butt claims to have invented the Long Island Iced Tea.
It was a cocktail that he made in 1972 for a contest where they had to create a new mixed drink using Triple Sec. At that time, he was working at the Oak Beach Inn on Long Island in New York, hence the name.
10ml of vodka
10ml of white rum
10ml of tequila
10ml of gin
10ml of Cointreau
20ml of lemon juice
20ml of sugar syrup
1. Pour all the ingredients except the cola in your shaker
2. Fill up with ice and shake
3. Pour about 50ml of cola into your highball
4. Fill up the glass with ice
5. Pour the liquid slowly from your shaker into the glass through the strainer. If you place yourself just on top of the ice cubes, do it slowly enough and stay steady, you’ll be able to form a layer between the coke and the liquid from the shaker
6. Garnish with a dehydrated lemon or just a lemon slice.
It’s history is actually very, very tight with the history of the word “cocktail”.
The first documented definition of the word "cocktail" was in response to a reader's letter asking to define the word in the May 6, 1806, issue of The Balance and Columbian Repository in Hudson, New York.
In the May 13, 1806 issue, the paper's editor wrote that it was a potent concoction of spirits, bitters, water, and sugar; it was also referred to at the time as a “bittered sling”.
By the 1860s, “cocktail” started to attract different mixtures such as orange curaçao, absinthe, and other liqueurs. But, as purists will always be purists the original concoction, made in different proportions, came back into Vogue, and was referred to as "old-fashioned"
The most popular spirit for it was actually whiskey, but people would ask for gin, rum, cognac…
Glassware: Winchester glass, water glass
60ml of a spirit of your choice but for this example I will take Bourbon
1 sugar cube or 10 ml of sugar syrup
4 dashes of Angostura bitters
2 dashes of Orange bitters
You can replace the bitters depending on the spirit you will use.
For example, on a dark rum I would replace the orange with chocolate. For gin, it could be grapefruit or lemon bitters…etc.
It will be unfortunately too complicated to explain how to make bitters, but you can easily find some at your favourite liquor shop.
1. Put your sugar cube into the mixing glass. Add 2 drops of soda water, and the bitters in order to dilute the sugar cube. Mix it a little bit until the sugar cube as melted
Note that if you use sugar syrup you just have to pour it and add your bitters
2. Add your spirit
3. Top up with ice and stir. For this one use your bar spoon (or chop stick), and stir for about 20 to 30 rounds
4. Take one of your ice balls and place it in a glass
5. Pour your liquid into the glass
6. Garnish with an orange peel. For rum I would use a cinnamon stick. For Gin a lemon peel or grapefruit peel would do it. If you have a maraschino cherry to add, that would be fantastic.
FIG ME UP!
This one right here is my personal creation!
For this one we go a bit more into the professional side of the cocktail making. You’ll need to make your own syrup in order to succeed.
For a little backstory, I wanted to work with figs for a while. As they’re a highly seasonal product, and also quite pricey, I didn’t get too far. By searching and reading, I understood that dry figs could actually be a potential option for what I wanted to do.
Once I got my hands on some dry figs, it took me at least a week to understand how to best extract the flavours of that beautiful fruit. When I had the flavour I was looking for, it was time to think about how I would marry that flavour with the other ingredients I had behind the bar.
A few different combinations, a few tastings and here it was; the Fig Me Up!
It was my bar’s best seller this year, before we all went to isolation.
Muddler (or anything you can press with)
Ingredients for the syrup (makes about 400ml to 600ml of syrup):
15 dehydrated figs
1 cinnamon stick
Small hand dehydrated cranberries
Ingredients for the cocktail:
50ml Bacardi Oro
20ml Fig syrup
15ml Lime juice
5ml Vanilla Liqueur
Spray or 2 dashes of Orange Blossom (also known as orange water)
Method for the syrup:
1. Cut all your dehydrated figs in half
2. Place the figs in a pan, along with the cinnamon and the cranberries
3. Fill up your pan with water just to the top of your ingredients
4. Bring it to boil then simmer for 2 hours, give or take
5. Let the water evaporate, penetrate the fruit and top up with water as many times as necessary during those 2 hours until you get a nice, tasty, thick, brown syrup
6. Strain your liquid out of the pan
7. Put all the fruits into a strainer and press them with the muddler so you can extract the water from it (don’t skip this part because this is where the best flavour lives).
8. Mix that liquid with sugar. The rule will be 1 for 1. If you have 200ml of liquid, you should add 200g of sugar. Mix it properly so the sugar dissolves. Proceeding by pouring the sugar slowly into the liquid will help the sugar to dissolve better.
9. There you go, your syrup is ready, and you can keep it up to 2 weeks if refrigerated.
1. Pour all the ingredients into the shaker except the orange blossom.
2. Fill up your shaker with ice and shake it up
3. Spray the orange blossom or drop 2 dashes (5ml) into your glass. We call it a rinse.
4. Strain what you just shook into the glass
5. Garnish with edible flowers.
If you’ve made it all this way, I hope you had as much fun as I did writing this!
Big thanks to my buddy Jermaine for trusting me with this piece, and Wenuri for making sure I didn’t ramble too much.
Peace, love & house music!