Classic Cocktails Anyone?

A beer on Sunday while watching the game seems like the simplest and purest pleasures available. I’m grateful to live in California where I can get my beer on without having to worry about what day of the week it is, and where there is also a good network of distributors of quality stuff readily available at my grocery store instead of the flavorless barley pop that gets sold on the (admittedly, often amusing) commercials. What rational, secular purpose do blue laws serve? I haven’t been able to think of one; such laws exist (in states other than my own) because other people wish to deny me the pleasures I choose out of fear that I will neglect to adhere to their lifestyle choices.

But then again, I’m pretty much pro-booze. Much like our esteemed editor. Looks like he’s found a winner of a beer¬†(read his review, despite the fact that every time I try to jump from here at LOOG to his articles at Forbes, the Forbes website crashes and must reload annoyingly; Forbes.com’s technical issues do not reflect on Erik’s crisp prose about a crisp beverage). So much so that we’re looking to inaugurate a new tradition: celebrating ratification of the Twenty-First Amendment, the fast-adopted repeal to the only time the federal Constitution has been used to restrict individual freedom.* For that purpose, I’m soliciting cocktails that were popular in the 1930’s. I’m already well-versed with the aviation cocktail — but if you know of more like that, please post the recipe in the comments section!

* Debatably, the Twenty-Second Amendment prohibits the freedom of voters to elect a President to a third term of office; two popular Presidents (Reagan and Clinton) would have had reasonable shots at third terms. However, limiting the amount of time a single person can hold on to that much power, IMO, safeguards rather than diminishes liberty.

Burt Likko

Pseudonymous Portlander. Homebrewer. Atheist. Recovering litigator. Recovering Republican. Recovering Catholic. Recovering divorcé. Recovering Former Editor-in-Chief of Ordinary Times. House Likko's Words: Scite Verum. Colite Iusticia. Vivere Con Gaudium.

38 Comments

  1. The Sazerac is the finest American cocktail in my book. Here’s how I make it:

    Pack a lowball or rocks glass with ice. In a shaker, combine 3 oz rye or bourbon (I’ve been drinking Bulleit Rye, and it’s a great everyday whiskey), 1 oz simple syrup, and a few dashes of bitters (I usually use Peychaud’s, according to the standard recipe, but I’ve been using Bitter Truth lately). Shake. Dump the ice from the first glass, add a small amount of absinthe, swirl and dump, then add the shaken part to the glass. Twist a bit of lemon peel over the top, rub the edges of the glass, and DISCARD THE PEEL. Don’t put it in the drink; that’s gross.

    I know you’re supposed to use a sugar cube, but I’m lazy. I also like my sazerac a bit sweet, so you could use more whiskey/less sugar if you were so inclined.

    • I’ve got Angustora bitters on hand, is that close enough to Peychaud’s that I can get away with it?

      • Yes, most definitely. They’re actually very similar, since they’re both made from gentian root. Peychaud’s is a little sweeter, but otherwise they’re very close.

    • Just made one of these, but I swapped in agave nectar for the simple syrup (which I assume makes little difference). Otherwise followed this recipe exactly.

      Fantastic.

  2. I’ve always been partial to the Negroni, though you gotta like Campari to enjoy it.

    It’s ultra-simple — one part gin, one part sweet vermouth, one part Campari. Served on the rocks with a twist.

  3. I’m a wino, myself… but, in my youth, I found myself partial to a nice Rob Roy.

    2 parts Scotch whisky, 1 part sweet vermouth, in a rocks glass, on the rocks, drop a cherry in there. Stir it? Eh, just swirl it in your hand.

    Tell the person next to you that “They didn’t name a drink after William Wallace.”

  4. There’s always a Manhattan, made the way my grandpa did, which was eight ounces of bourbon in a chilled glass plus some bitters if he had them (which he usually didn’t).

      • Wait, wait, wait!!! A Manhattan also MUST contain (a little) sweet vermouth. Otherwise, it’s just a bourbon on the rocks.

        I’ve been drinking Manhattans for 30 years, ever since I decided that it would be “my” signature drink (God, I was an intolerable 20-year-old). It is irksome to me that they have recently become fashionable again.

        I prefer Maker’s Mark, but evan Seagram’s 7m will do in a pinch. Bitters are essential. And for God’s sake leave the fishing maraschino cherry out – this isn’t some sort of fruit cocktail.

  5. Now this is funny, no commentary (besides Burt’s and mine) on the immediately preceding YouTube post by the delusional narcissist. And this one now has 7? Is everyone now an alcoholic Jaybird suggests?

    • You’re upset that we’d rather talk about drinks we can make ourselves than a video some kid in a basement put on YouTube?

    • I would be much more likely to suggest that everyone needs a drink, for the record.

      It’s the people who walk into the bar yelling teetotal slogans and smashing bottles that have the problem, or so it seems to me.

  6. Re the blue laws, I’ve heard that these days most of the resistance to overturning the blue laws (at least here in CT) comes from mom&pop liquor store owners who don’t want to stay open 24/7 but also don’t want to lose business to the supermarkets and bigger players who can staff those hours more easily.

    • I’ve also heard they were enacted so Mom and Pop didn’t have to compete with the Joos; the site I linked to says so explicitly. I’m not sure there is substantial evidence to back up that claim, though.

    • This is pretty much what’s happening in Pennsylvania. The beer distributors (and liquor-licensed “package stores”) don’t like the idea that they’re going to lose their monopoly on liquor sales.

      In other words, “this is what regulatory capture looks like!”

  7. I think a classic martini belongs on there, obviously.

    I suggest watching the Thin Man movies to get more material.

  8. I’ve always been an Old Fashioned man myself, I assume that pre-dates the period but I am not well-versed on the history of cocktails.

    • I have to agree though I’m disappointed by how few places have the bitters needed to it properly. Started drinking them after watching Mad Men enough times that I just ~had~ to know what Don was drinking.

      Not disappointed.

    • My dad likes Old Grand Dad. At least three times now I’ve been there when he’s ordered Old Grand Dad on the rocks, and been served an Old Fashioned.

    • I worked at a tavern-restaurant called “The Old Fashioned” that specializes in the drink. I worked in the kitchen, so I’m no expert, but I say the more bitters the better. Brandy sweet, of course.

      • …Brandy, that’s a Sconnie thing. Bourbon or rye is perfectly wonderful as well.

        • It sure is. My family is a little apostate and drinks theirs made with Southern Comfort. . . I prefer mine whiskey, sweet now.

          • A Southern Comfort Old Fashioned is either a great idea or the grossest thing I’ve ever heard of. I need to try one and find out.

            Another variation I like that I tried with a friend: bacon-infused bourbon and maple syrup instead of simple syrup. You can drink it for breakfast!

          • If you like them sweet, it’s actually pretty good.
            Most important Sconnie test of all: What fruit goes in?

  9. I make my classic martinis with Noilly Prat vermouth. No others are anywhere near as good, and some are really gross. Don’t be stingy with the vermouth, either. Drinking straight-up gin doesn’t make you sophisticated. It makes you boring.

    I also use (don’t laugh) Gordon’s gin. Our house held a blind taste test, and Gordon’s won by far. I was surprised too, but it beat several more expensive brands.

    Besides the classic martini, here are my other two favorites:

    Blue Smoke Martini

    Rinse a chilled martini glass with Scotch (preferably Laphroaig).
    Shake 3oz vodka and strain into the glass (we like Boyd & Blair).
    Garnish with three blue cheese-stuffed olives.

    Cognac Martini

    Like the classic martini, but use cognac instead of vermouth.

    • Noilly Prat is good. I did a vermouth course with Derek Brown recently that was amazing. I also adore Dolin Blanc, but I wouldn’t put it in a martini. It’s almost best just straight.

      • I think it has more to do with the fact that people mistreat it. It’s a fortified wine, which means it can’t sit in your liquor cabinet at room temperature for two years without turning horrific. It needs to be refrigerated and consumed quickly.

      • Noilly Prat is also my preferred sweet vermouth for making Manhattans

    • Can’t wait to try a Blue Smoke.

      On the strength of this recommendation, I kept the vermouth in last night’s martini. (I live in mortal fear of being boring.) I liked it! I think I still prefer mine on the drier side, but I’ll be a bit more generous in future.

  10. I’m not sure it’s quite old enough, but I love me a grasshopper. 1:1:1 creme de menthe, creme de cacao, and cream, on the rocks. It’s also a fun thing to order, because the bartender or cocktail server is usually pleasantly surprised. One waitress in Vegas even told me “you’re not old enough to want one of those!!” (I was 30) and then brought me a double.

  11. I know someone who regularly orders Black Samurai. Now that’s a man’s drink!

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