Cocktails classic and modern

  • Vodka Martini
    The ideal preparation of a vodka martini begins with a chilled glass: fill a cocktail glass with ice and water and let it chill while you prepare the drink. Begin with dry vermouth – do not be afraid! Use of more than a drop or two may put you at risk of making an interesting cocktail. The original proportions were half spirit, half vermouth (now called a "fifty/fifty"). Another classic martini (the dry martini) is one part vermouth, two parts spirit. An extra dry martini uses a much smaller amount of vermouth; from a rinse of the glass to a bar spoon full.

    Note on vermouth: don't use bad vermouth, and don't use old vermouth. When did you open that bottle? If you don't know, throw it out and start with a fresh one. Store an open bottle of vermouth in the refrigerator, and at home, use half bottles to ensure freshness. Finally, use good quality vermouth.
    Pour the vermouth over ice. Add the vodka. Add a dash of bitters (either Angostura or orange bitters such as Gary Regan's or Fee Bros.) Stir well: 20 times in one direction, 20 times in the other direction. Strain with a julep strainer into the now-cold cocktail glass. Garnish with good olives. You're done. It's good.

    The "Cosmo" is a ubiquitous drink, and thus many have come to despise it. Avoid this temptation. A great Cosmo is a beautiful thing. Chill a cocktail glass and then squeeze the juice of a half a lime over ice in a Boston shaker and add an ounce of cranberry juice. Add the same quantity of Grand Marnier, and two ounces of Belvedere Vodka. Shake like crazy. Strain with a Hawthorne strainer into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a lime wheel.

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  • Daiquiri
    A Daiquiri is a much abused cocktail. Terrible sins have been committed in the name of the Daiquiri. Those who know rum, however, know that this is a true classic (and very simple). Chill a cocktail glass. Squeeze the juice of a half lime over ice in a shaker. Add an ounce simple syrup and two ounces of 10 Cane rum. Shake like crazy. Strain into your chilled cocktail glass.

    A Mojito is deceptively simple. There are some people who should not attempt this drink at home, since a bad Mojito is a scary thing. For the rest of us, however, there is a simple solution. It begins with a sprig of mint (NOT a forest of mint). We place the mint into a Collins glass with the juice of half a lime and we muddle. Note: I did say "muddle" and not "pulverize". If you have green stuff in your teeth when you drink this, you've done something wrong. Gently massage the mint very briefly with your muddler – think of giving your beloved a backrub. Add ice to the glass. Add two ounces of 10 Cane rum. Stir the contents once or twice to distribute the flavors. Top with a bit of soda water and garnish with a lime wedge.

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  • Sidecar
    Proportions are everything – this is another cocktail that's great when it's well made and nasty when it isn't. In theory, rather simple: chill a cocktail glass. Squeeze a half a lemon over ice in a cocktail shaker. This is the tricky part: you need the same amount of Grand Marnier as you have lemon juice. Try ¾ ounces to begin with – this should be about right. Add two ounces of Hennessy VSOP. I recommend that you taste before you shake. If the balance doesn't seem right to you, add more Grand Marnier or more lemon. After all, you're the one who's going to drink it. Shake like crazy. Strain into your chilled cocktail glass.

    Garnish with a twist of lemon. Better yet, cut straight through just the skin of the lemon, which should give you a round piece of peel about the size of a nickel. Hold it between thumb and forefinger. With your other hand, strike a match. With a sharp motion, snap your fingers that are holding the lemon peel together while pointing them at the flame (and at the surface of the drink). This should make a cool flame. Everyone digs the pyrotechnics.

    Here is a classic drink that can be very, very good. We recommend, however, a break with tradition. Tradition dictates equal parts Hennessy and white crème de menthe, which I feel is much, much too sweet. My advice, since I happen to like the taste of Hennessy, is to use no more than one generous dash, let's say a scant bar spoonful, with two ounces of Hennessy VSOP. Stir with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a sprig of mint. What they say is that the only drink you can have after a stinger is another stinger. Or you can go home.

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  • Rob Roy
    When you order this drink, someone will always say "the last person that I heard to order a Rob Roy was my dad, thirty years ago". Well, there's a reason for that: your dad knew what he was doing. A great drink.

    Two ounces of Glenmorangie Original, ¾ ounce sweet vermouth and a dash of bitters (preferably orange bitters) shaken over ice and strained into a chilled cocktail glass and garnished with a cherry. If you really cared, you'd go out and buy cherries cured in brandy, and not those awful bright pink/red maraschino cherries that taste really bad.

    The secret to a sublime Rob Roy is to complement your amazing Glenmorangie Original Scotch whisky with the use of great sweet vermouth. For this you should have some Punt e Mes around. If not, just please don't use the cheap stuff here.

    Blood & Sand
    What a name! What a drink!! Very easy to make as well. Equal parts Glenmorangie Original, sweet Vermouth (good Vermouth), Cherry Heering, and orange juice. Shake over ice, strain, and garnish with an orange wheel.

    The Orangie Sour
    This is a wonderful twist on the traditional whiskey sour but elevated with the addition of Grand Marnier.

    1¼ Glenmorangie The Original
    ¾ oz Grand Marnier Cordon Rouge
    3 oz Sour Mix

    Pour over ice in a small metal shaker cup and bruise.
    Strain into an old fashion glass of fresh ice and top with a splash of orange juice.

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