I’m a bourbon girl. I even have a T-Shirt that says Bourbon Badass and I wear it as often as I can get away with. My two favorite drinks in this crazy world are the Old Fashioned and the Manhattan, two of mixology’s most iconic cocktails. I’m a big fan of other classic cocktails as well, not only because I like the way they taste but because despite ever-changing drink trends they’ve stood the test of time, and for good reason.
Next time you’re having your pals over for drinks, try swapping out the wine and cosmopolitans for these timeless cocktails. I can’t think of a better way to take book club to the next level!
Considered by many to be the original cocktail, the Old Fashioned has been a bar staple since the early 1800s. It seemed to have lost favor in the late 90s and early 2000s, but the Old Fashioned is definitely making a comeback. In the past five years, I’ve gone from having to teach several bartenders how to make one, to seeing it on nearly every bar and restaurant drink menu. It has had such a resurgence in popularity that in 2015 the city of Louisville, KY named the Old Fashioned as its official cocktail and now celebrates “Old Fashioned Fortnight,” a two-week party in June which encompasses bourbon events, cocktail specials and National Bourbon Day on June 14. Honey, we’re moving!
Reportedly originating in the Manhattan Club in NYC in the early 1870s, this bar standard has seen many variations through the years. Traditional views insist that a Manhattan be made with American rye whiskey, but I don’t like rye, so I make mine with bourbon instead. Both are acceptable, but when ordering at a bar, be sure to specify which alcohol you want them to use.
When is a Martini not a Martini? When it’s garnished with an onion. Then it’s a Gibson. The most popular origin story of this late 1800s drink is that Walter Gibson, a wealthy industrialist, ordered his Martinis with onions because he believed they helped prevent the common cold. If you love the savory taste of the Dirty Martini, give this a whirl.
I hate tomato juice. I mean, I really hate it. It always made me so sad when my friends would order Bloody Mary’s with brunch. They looked so good, and my friends always oohed and aahed over them, but I couldn’t get past the tomato juice. Then one miraculous day at a hotel in Gettysburg, PA, our wonderful saint of a waiter suggested the Bullshot when he heard my grumblings about tomato juice. It was like heaven smiled down on me that day. The Bullshot swaps out tomato juice for beef stock and I couldn’t be happier. During the 1950s and 60s, this robust, savory cocktail had something of a cult following but fell out of favor in the late 70s. Thankfully for me, it’s had a bit of a comeback in recent years. Just when I thought brunch couldn't get any better!
The exact origin of the sidecar is unclear, but it’s thought to have been invented around the end of World War I in either London or Paris. The proportions of this drink are debated as much as its origin. Not knowing the exact story of this 1920s speakeasy staple adds to the fun for me. Every time I’ve ordered one, they are slightly different from the last, but in spirit, all the same. This recipe is the one I use at home.