Old School Cocktails – The Big Four
Before the invasion of juice-full alcohol beverage abominations, people of style used to enjoy classic cocktails that expressed one’s sophisticated taste in drinking. These four all-time classics have survived to this day thanks to their unbelievably simple, yet potent recipes.
Unjustly neglected until recently, this masculine cocktail has gained popularity as Mad Men protagonist Don Draper’s favorite drink. The recipe draws its origin from a morning drink called “cock tail”, that took a bit of water, some sugar, a lot of liquor and a couple of drops of bitters. Old Fashioned is made with ice cubes, though. As Jack Townsend, former head of the Bartenders Union of New York, says, orange slices, cherries, pineapple sticks and other “indignities” became an essential part of many American cocktails since Prohibition, when they were used to hide the taste of liquor. Best made with Canadian Club or bourbon.
This is an ideal back-from-work drink, as it combines the refreshing bitterness of lemon, brisk kick of gin and sparkling sensation of soda. Erik Lombardo, master bartender at Tryst, says that you can’t go wrong even if you swap the gin for a different liquor like vodka or bourbon. The origin of its name is often attributed to the Tom Collins Hoax of 1874 that gained notoriety in New York, Pennsylvania. Apparently, people would start a conversation by asking, “Have you seen Tom Collins?”, followed with a series of lies and insults that he had told about the person in question. The speaker would end a conversation by saying that Tom Collins is in the bar just around the corner.
With the egg white giving it a specific frothy texture, this manly cocktail is made with whiskey, sugar, an egg white and citrus, most typically a lemon. It is simple, reliable and rugged, earning the nickname “undershirt cocktail”. Perfect for an all-night journey from flush bars to seedy joints, the egg white content gives you the extra protein boost to keep you going. It is also a welcoming drink for late night card games, and since many bottle shops open till late, you can never run out of ingredients. It mixes well with rye, but also with bourbon, Irish whiskey or Canadian.
Shaken or stirred, extra-dry or dirty, vodka or gin, no cocktail in the world is so instantly recognized by its elegant glass and the line of movie stars who enjoyed it along with the characters they played. The Martini we know today evolved from the Martinez, a cocktail that was born in 1860s in a small town of Martinez in California. One of favorite drinks, of John D. Rockefeller, Martini hit the mainstream with Prohibition and relative availability of gin. And of course, Vodka Martini wouldn’t become so popular if there weren’t for a special agent with a license to kill.
Some cocktails have entered our collective consciousness so deeply that one wouldn’t be hard convincing that it was actually ancient Aztecs who inventing salting the rim of a Margarita glass turned upside down. These four Riders of the Apocalypse are sure to be around till the end of days.