There’s something quietly exciting about mixing a cocktail. The skill and the thrill of hitting your measures and ratios just right. The difference a flick of the wrist can make to drinks both shaken and stirred. The delicate and delicious finish of the perfect garnish. It’s an intoxicating business.
And that’s before we even touch on the variety of cocktails. With the possible combinations of liqueurs, spirits, mixers and syrups at your disposal, there are almost more moves sitting in your drinks cabinet than there are in the squares of a chess board. But, to play this particular game right, you need rules and recipes. And that’s where we come in. So kick back, grab a glass and trawl through these tipples; the 50 drinks every gentleman should try.
Ah, whisky. From bourbon to Scotch, this most gentlemanly of spirits is used to create some of the finest cocktails we’ve ever tasted. The classics, such as the Manhattan, Whiskey Sour and Old Fashioned are chief amongst our favourites, but we’re not against branching out a little and experimenting with our malts – using them to craft the delectable Sazerac or warming Irish Coffee.
The heyday of the whisky cocktail was sure the 20s and 30s, when tipples from the Rob Roy to the Rusty Nail were blended into existence. And then there are the versatile whisky cocktails, such as the Boulevardier, which just last year was imbued with new life by Chivas Regal. And then there are the whisky drinks that play up to their respective heritages: from the gingery-tinged and thoroughly Scottish Whisky Mac to the Mint Julep: a cocktail so bourbon-soaked and southern that you can hear it drawling from here.
There’s nothing quite so versatile as vodka. Blend with with fruity flavours – see the simple Screwdriver – or coffee notes – the inimitable White Russian, or Black Russian – or even stir in some pepper and Worcestershire Sauce with a stick of celery – we’re looking at you, Bloody Mary – and it’ll still taste fresh, crisp and refreshing. And that’s before we even get to Bond’s tipple of choice, the classic Vodka Martini.
Of course, there have been influences on vodka far from its native Russia. The Moscow Mule may be a classic, but when America saw the cocktail boom of the early 20th Century, they clearly looked over any animosity with their red cousins upon mixing the Harvey Wallbanger, Vodka Sling and Twister. And, even though Marilyn Monroe famously said of the Bullshot, ‘What a horrible thing to do to vodka’, it endures to this day. Raise a glass.
Rum’s rather fun. It’s spirited spirit that pairs well with fruity flavours and refuses to play by the rules. Want to throw the kitchen sink at it, with textures, tastes and garnishes galore? Then by all means mix a Pina Colada. But fancy paring things back and keeping your cocktails simple? Then a Cuba Libre is simply rum, lime and coke. Most rum cocktails fit into this binary, your punchy Mai Tais and Planter’s Punches on one hand, and the simplistic Dark n’ Stormy on the other.
And then there’s the Daiquiri, potentially the most famous rum cocktail and a favourite of Ernest Hemingway. The famed author also favoured the minty Mojito during his time on Cuba. And rum really does lend itself to the laid back life: Bermuda loves a Rum Swizzle, New Orleans a Hurricane, and chilled Hollywood hangouts serve their fair share of Zombies.
Havana Club 7 Year Old
Kraken Black Spiced Rum
Don Papa 7 Year Old
Gin’s in. And for good reason. Not only has this clear spirit, once the scourge of London’s streets, had a resurgence, it is now one of the most popular spirits for cocktails. The Negroni, Martini and Tom Collins are all-time classics, which you should know how to make already, but then there are several drinks that nod to the spirit’s nautical heritage, such as the Gimlet and Pennant.
If you want to be a little more adventurous, try the decadent French 75 or Raffles’ Singapore Sling. Or, take a trip across the pond to our American cousins, who have adopted this quintessentially British spirit as their own and crafted drinks from the Southern Comfort-infused Alabama Slammer to the citrus-tinged Bronx. Not selling it? Well then grab your pickled onions, keep it dry and mix up a simple, sharp Gibson.
And then, of course, there are reams and reams of other recipes that boggle both your mind and constitution. Underused spirits or long lost recipes languishing at the back of your drinks cabinet shouldn’t be avoided for the sake of fashion or difficulty. Everything from a Sidecar to a Stinger has its place. The stranger South American spirits can create wonderful drinks, including the Caipirinha, Margarita and Pisco Sour.
Then, of course, come the drinks deemed too flouncy for a gentleman. But don’t despair. Enjoy your Tequila Sunrises and Mimosas if you want – in fact we insist. Everything doesn’t have to be as darkly-spirited as an Amaretto Sour or Godfather. And, when the party’s really going, reach for the absinthe – because who doesn’t love a long Death in the Afternoon?