Classic Summer Cocktails

Picnic and cookout season will soon be upon us as the long shadows of winter are replaced by soft summer breezes and the world springs once again to life. At the end of a long summer's day there's nothing better than sitting on the patio in the warm glow of dusk, fire crackling in the chimnea, with a cocktail in hand.  Here are a few of my favorite recipes for classic mixed cocktails. Enjoy

Tom Collins

In 1874, people in New York, Pennsylvania, and elsewhere in the United States would start a conversation with “Have you seen Tom Collins?” After the listener predictably reacts by explaining that they did not know a Tom Collins, the speaker would assert that Tom Collins was talking about the listener to others and that Tom Collins was “just around the corner”, “in a [local] bar,” or somewhere else near. The conversation about the nonexistent Tom Collins was a proven hoax of exposure. In The Great Tom Collins hoax of 1874, as it became known, the speaker would encourage the listener to act foolishly by reacting to patent nonsense that the hoaxer deliberately presents as reality. In particular, the speaker desired the listener to become agitated at the idea of someone talking about them to others such that the listener would rush off to find the purportedly nearby Tom Collins. Similar to The New York Zoo hoax of 1874, several newspapers propagated the very successful practical joke by printing stories containing false sightings of Tom Collins. The 1874 hoax quickly gained such notoriety that several 1874 music hall songs memorialized the event (copies of which now are in the U.S. Library of Congress)

  • 2 fluid ounces gin
  • 2 fluid ounces lemon juice
  • 1 fluid ounce simple syrup
  • 1 dash bitters
  • 1 cup ice cubes
  • 1/4 cup cold club soda
  • 1 slice lemon, for garnish
  • 1 maraschino cherry

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice. Pour in the gin, lemon juice, simple syrup and a dash of bitters. Cover and shake until the outside of the container is frosty, about 15 seconds. Strain into a highball glass full of ice. Top off with club soda and garnish with a lemon slice and maraschino cherry.

The Old Fashioned

The first alleged use of the specific   name  ”Old Fashioned” was for a Bourbon whiskey cocktail in the 1880s, at the Pendennis Club, a gentlemen’s club in Louisville, Kentucky. The recipe is said to have been invented by a bartender at that club, and popularized by a club member and bourbon distiller, Colonel James E. Pepper, who brought it to the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel bar in New York City. 

Ingredients

  • 2 teaspoons simple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon water
  • 2 dashes bitters
  • 1 cup ice cubes
  • 1 (1.5 fluid ounce) jigger bourbon whiskey
  • 1 slice orange
  • 1 maraschino cherry

Directions Pour the simple syrup, water, and bitters into a whiskey glass. Stir to combine, then place the ice cubes in the glass. Pour bourbon over the ice and garnish with the orange slice and maraschino cherry.

 The Rob Roy 

The Rob Roy was created in 1894 by a bartender at the Waldorf Hotel in New York City. The drink was named in honor of the premiere of Rob Roy, an operetta by composer Reginald De Koven and lyricist Harry B. Smith loosely based upon Scottish folk hero Robert Roy MacGregor. The Rob Roy is similar to a Manhattan but is made exclusively with Scotch whisky, while the Manhattan is traditionally made with rye and today commonly made with bourbon or Canadian whisky

  • 1/4 cup blended Scotch whiskey
  • 2 tablespoons sweet vermouth
  • 4 ice cubes
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
  • 1 maraschino cherry
  • Pour Scotch and vermouth into a glass with ice cubes. Shake in bitters, stir, and garnish with a maraschino cherry.

The Mint Julep

The origins of the mint julep are clouded and may never be definitively known. The first appearance of a mint julep in print came in a book by John Davis published in London in 1803, where it was described as “a dram of spirituous liquor that has mint steeped in it, taken by Virginians of a morning.” However, Davis did not specify that bourbon was the spirit used. The traditional Virginia recipe as served at the “Old White” is described-”…the famous old barroom, which was approached by a spiral staircase. Here in this dark, cool room, scented with great masses of fragrant mint that lay upon mountains of crushed ice, in the olden days were created the White Sulphur mint julep and the Virginia toddy, for which this place was famous the world over. The mint juleps were not the composite compounds of the present day. They were made of the purest French brandy, limestone water, old-fashioned cut loaf sugar, crushed ice, and young mint the foliage of which touched your ears…Here, in this old room, was uttered that famous remark of the Governor of North Carolina to the Governor of South Carolina. ‘It is a long time between drinks.’”[3] The mint julep originated in the southern United States, probably during the eighteenth century. U.S. Senator Henry Clay of Kentucky introduced the drink to Washington, D.C., at the Round Robin Bar in the famous Willard Hotel during his residence in the city. The term ‘julep’ is generally defined as a sweet drink, particularly one used as a vehicle for medicine. The word itself is derived from the Persian word گلاب (Golâb), meaning rose water. Americans enjoyed not only bourbon-based juleps during the nineteenth century, but also gin-based juleps made with genever, an aged gin. Recently, however, bourbon-based juleps have decisively eclipsed gin-based juleps. Traditionally, the silver cup should have a copper core to fully freeze the contents.

 The Side Car 

The exact origin of the Sidecar is unclear, but it is thought to have been invented around the end of World War I in either London or Paris. The Ritz Hotel in Paris claims origin of the drink. The first recipes for the Sidecar appear in 1922, in Harry MacElhone’s Harry’s ABC of Mixing Cocktails and Robert Vermeire’s Cocktails and How to Mix Them. It is one of six basic drinks listed in David A. Embury’s The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks(1948).

In early editions of MacElhone’s book, he cites the inventor as Pat MacGarry, “the Popular bar-tender at Buck’s Club, London”, but in later editions he cites himself. Vermiere states, “This cocktail is very popular in France. It was first introduced in London by MacGarry, the celebrated bar-tender of Buck’s Club.” Embury credits the invention of the drink to an American Army captain in Paris during World War I “and named after the motorcycle sidecar in which the good captain was driven to and from the little bistro where the drink was born and christened”. Apparently the Sidecar became famous in Harry’s Bar in Paris.

  • ice cubes
  • 1/2 fluid ounce freshly squeezed lemon juice
  • 1/2 fluid ounce Cointreau or triple sec
  • 1 fluid ounce brandy
  • 1 lemon wedge

Fill a cocktail shaker 3/4 full with ice cubes. Pour in lemon juice, Cointreau, and brandy. Cover and shake vigorously for about 30 seconds until the outside of the shaker becomes cold and frosty. Strain into a martini glass and garnish with a wedge of lemon.

Columnist Joshua Lorenzo Newett is a novelist, entrepreneur, and English professor at The Korean Naval Academy in Jinhae, South Korea. Saving Bill Murray, his second novel, was recently published here.

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