Every time I watch Mad Men (or think about the highly-anticipated season 7 premier), I can’t help but gawk at how impeccably chic and sophisticated the women of the show are. Think big pearls, well-fitted sheath dresses, and floral and pastels prints. When I’m not fixated on Betty’s perfectly pouted red lip, I’m looking at what the ladies are sipping on – and it seems they’re always sipping on something.
In their honor, I’ve rounded up a few classic cocktails. They may be old, but they’re still timeless goodies.
Around the 1920s, doctors prescribed the gimlet as a way to treat patients who were vitamin c deficient. It may not be a cure-all today, but it’s still one of the easiest drinks to make; basically 1.5 oz of vodka or gin to 1 oz of lime juice. The drink requires good vodka or gin and a lot of ice. I prefer Tito’s Handmade Vodka, a micro-distilled vodka made in Texas that’s distilled 6 times. The result is a clean, sharp vodka that isn’t too over powering. Shaken with lime, this is a simple cocktail that can be enjoyed any time of year. To make, mix the vodka or gin with Rose’s lime juice. Rose’s is the premier sweet juice mixer – dating back to 1867. Without it, the gimlet is just vodka. You can always substitute Rose’s for fresh squeezed juice too. Serve over ice with a wedge of fresh lime.
The king of brunch, the Bloody Mary (yes, it’s capitalized) is a time-honored tradition. Dating back to 1921, this cocktail is often known as the perfect hangover cure. But it wasn’t always a brunch staple. In the 1920s it was a standard drink of choice for many. Just three parts vodka to six parts tomato juice, this cocktail can be as spicy and flavorful or as bland as the drinker chooses depending on the spices and sauces mixed in. Make your own Bloody Mary bars a fun trend today too, allowing the drink to take on many different forms. My personal favorite mixes in Worcestershire Sauce, hot sauce, salt, pepper, lemon juice, Old Bay seasoning, horseradish, a celery stalk, and some olives. A crab leg hanging over the glass doesn’t hurt either.
The sidecar may or may not have originated in London or Paris after World War I (no one really knows for sure). Some consider it to be the toast to the end of Prohibition. Regardless, this sour cocktail is made from three parts cognac, Cointreau or Grand Marnier, and lemon juice. In France, the drink holds true to three equal parts. I prefer 1.5 oz of cognac, a French brandy, to 1 oz of Grand Marnier, and ½ oz of lemon juice. To add a touch of sweetness, rim the glass with sugar. It may be tart, but this cocktail is both structured and can be served straight up. Feel free to play around with the proportions to find the right amount of sour and sweet.
The martini may be one of the most popular drinks on the cocktail menu. H. L. Mencken, a famous American writer, called the martini "the only American invention as perfect as the sonnet." Dating back to the1860s, the martini is actually made with an aromatic fortified wine, known as vermouth. Gin or vodka, depending on your preference, make up the body of this drink. To make, shake with ice 1 oz vermouth with 3 oz of vodka or gin. To make it “dirty,” add the juice from a jar of martini olives. Or keep it straightforward and just add a twist of lemon or pickled onions. Martinis can be enjoyed on the rocks (with ice) or straight up without ice.
While no one knows for sure, it’s thought that the Manhattan was named for the Manhattan Club in New York City in the 1870s. Made with whiskey, sweet vermouth, and bitters, the cocktail comes garnished with a Maraschino cherry typically in a lowball glass on the rocks. With so many varieties of whiskey on the market, the challenge of picking one to use can be daunting. Any good liquor store can guide you through the process of choosing one that suits your taste. Malt whiskey, made from malted barely grain, and grain whiskey, made from one type of grain that isn’t malted, are the two main types. Pick up a bottle of Angostura bitters, recognizable by the over-sized label and yellow cap - at 90 proof, you only need to add a dash to the cocktail.
-- Briana Berg