Before the current booze boom, one’s cocktail selections were relegated to the simplistically termed ‘classics’ – the Martini, the Manhattan, the Negroni, and a few others.
You could walk into a bar and order any of these drinks without the bartender blinking an eye. Now, a Manhattan is just as likely to share menu space with a Martinez and your Negroni might have Suze instead of the usual Campari. Many historic cocktails – the Boulevardier, the Corpse Reviver, the Last Word — are more familiar to the everyday drinker than ever before. But, even with the array of spirited choices available today, there are still some brilliant old school drinks that don’t show up often enough on menus. Odds are, however, that any craft bartender worth his or her salt can make them for you – ask for one and you will be glad you did.
The Jack Rose Cocktail
If you enjoy the flavor of apple brandy, then the Jack Rose will probably delight you. The sweet-tart combination is greater than the sum of its parts, which is the hallmark of any great sour. The Jack Rose’s provenance, like many 19th and early 20th century drinks is vague. You can find the recipe in the Savoy Cocktail Book and a number of modern books as well, including those of Gaz Regan and Dale DeGroff, signaling their endorsement of its venerable roots. As to its name? The “jack” is likely from the Applejack used; the “rose” is the rose color from the grenadine.
- 2 oz. Laird’s Applejack
- 3/4 oz. Lemon Juice
- 3/4 oz. Grenadine
Preparation: Shake all ingredients with ice, then strain into a coupe.
Two years after America entertained her first Japanese diplomats, the Japanese cocktail appeared on the pages of Jerry Thomas’s Bar-tenders Guide of 1862. While there is nothing particularly “Japanese” about the drink, the combination of brandy, orgeat and a few dashes of bitters is exquisite in its simplicity of preparation, but still tantalizing on the tongue. It’s also an example of a drink where homemade — meaning the orgeat — will make all the difference in the drink’s overall complexity.
- 2 oz. Cognac-Style Brandy
- 2 oz. Orgeat
- 2 Dashes Angostura Bitters
- Lemon Twist, for garnish
Preparation: Add all ingredients to a mixing glass and stir until well chilled. Strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with lemon twist.
During Prohibition, Delcevare King –a millionaire with Anti-Saloon League morals — offered a fine prize for the creation of a new word to describe “a lawless drinker.” The winning entry: “Scoff-law.” And, of course, a drink of the same name followed. A sour with dry vermouth added, this drink made its first appearance at Harry’s New York Bar in Paris in 1924.
- 1 1/2 oz. Rye Whiskey
- 1 oz. Dry Vermouth
- 3/4 oz. Freshly Squeezed Lemon Juice
- 3/4 oz. Grenadine
- Lemon Twist, for Garnish
Preparation: Add all ingredients to an ice-filled shaker. Shake and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.
Of all the sours, the Daiquiri is perhaps the most emblematic drink. The El Presidente is a Daiquiri with provenance in Prohibition-era Havana. Depending on the recipe book you consult, you will find versions with or without pineapple juice, dry vermouth, curaçao and/or grenadine. The Sloppy Joe’s Bar Book of 1932-33 delineates between the Cuban and American versions of the drink with a simple addition of lemon in the latter. The Bar La Florida Cocktails 1935 reprint uses amber rum. All of these substitutions suggest the malleability of this drink. Experiment on your own to find your favorite balance.
- 1 1/2 oz. White Rum
- 3/4 oz. Dry Vermouth
- 1/2 oz. Orange Liqueur
- 1 Dash Grenadine, or More to Taste
- Orange Twist, for Garnish, if Desired
- Maraschino Cherry, for Garnish, if Desired
Preparation: Add all ingredients to an ice-filled shaker. Shake and strain into a cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange twist and a cherry if desired.