10 cocktails every gentleman should know how to make

Because it’s always cocktail hour somewhere in the world...

Whether it is neat, straight up or on the rocks, a gentleman should be able to make a drink that is as elegant and sophisticated as he is. Cocktails are celebrations of different flavours from all four corners of the globe and choosing from this myriad of variety is no mean feat. That said, there are the essentials that you simply cannot do without – those cornerstones of bygone bars which still form the basis of mixology today. Below are ten classic cocktails that every gentleman should be able to make. And remember, it’s always cocktail hour somewhere in the world…

The Daiquiri

If you only master one drink, make it the Daiquiri, the gold standard of sour cocktails. Reassuringly hard to perfect, this is a perfectly balanced drink of classic proportions. Understanding each component will let you explore the myriad of variations, such as the Margarita and the Dark & Stormy.

Ingredients: 2 ounces white rum, 1/2 teaspoon superfine sugar, 1/2 ounce lime juice

The Sidecar

As with most cocktails, the origins of the Sidecar are hazy, with both London and Paris laying claim to this suave and seductive classic. A post-Prohibition favourite, it is supposedly named after the transport used by an American officer. The French school adheres to a philosophy of thee equal parts, but we think that the English have it about spot on. Chin, chin. 

Ingredients: 1 1/2 ounces cognac, 3/4 ounce Cointreau, 3/4 ounce lemon juice

The Old Fashioned

Every gentleman should know how to make an Old Fashioned, Don Draper’s no-nonsense drink of choice. Its first appearance was at a Kentucky gentleman’s club in the 1880’s: gloriously simple yet sophisticated, this is a whisky-based cocktail that should be drunk with gravitas. 

Ingredients: 1 sugar cube, 3 dashes Angostura bitters, club soda, 2 ounces whisky

The Manhattan

An American-Italian love affair which originated in New York’s Manhattan Club over a century ago. As famous as it is enduring, this drink has stood the test of time for good reason. And it even mirrors NYC’s area code… 2-1-2.

Ingredients: 2 ounces rye whiskey, 1 ounce Italian vermouth, 2 dashes Angostura bitters

The Martini

This is one of the most elegant cocktails out there, period. Shrouded in mystique, yet simple to make, there really is nothing to it. And a gentleman knows that there is only one way to make a Martini – with gin, stirred not shaken. Sorry, James. 

Ingredients: 1 ounce dry vermouth, 4 ounces London dry gin

The Negroni

The definitive aperitif, the Negroni is one of the indispensable cocktails. It is made with the ‘Golden Ratio’ – one part dry, one part sweet, one part bitter. Orson Welles commented in 1947 that, “The bitters are excellent for your liver, the gin is bad for you. They balance each other.” Do raise your glass to Count Negroni.

Ingredients: 1 1/2 ounces London dry gin, 3/4 ounce Campari, 3/4 ounce Italian vermouth

The Bellini

Widely regarded as the best Champagne cocktail in the world, even if it is made with Prosecco. The Bellini was invented at Harry’s Bar in Venice, the regular haunt of Hemmingway and Welles, who knew a thing or two about drinking. Christened after the fifteenth-century painter, this beautifully refreshing summer tipple is befitting of the modern renaissance man. 

Ingredients: 1 part white peach puree, 3 parts Prosecco

The Pegu Club

Naturally, like many classic gin cocktails, the Pegu Club has its origins in the British Empire. The gentleman’s club in Rangoon gave its name to this delightful and refreshing drink, a favourite of the senior officers and gentlemen who frequented this far-flung watering hole.

Ingredients: 2 ounces London dry gin, 3/4 ounce orange curacao, 3/4 ounce lime juice, 1 dash Angostura bitters, 1 dash orange bitters

The Singapore Sling

First created at the Long Bar in Raffles Singapore, a hotel which even today conjures up images of louche, colonial civility. 2015 marks the centennial anniversary of this signature cocktail, even if the original recipe has been lost to history.

Ingredients: 1 ounce London dry gin, 1 ounce Bols cherry brandy or Heering cherry liqueur, 1 ounce Benedictine, 1 ounce lime juice, club soda

The Bloody Mary

The ultimate restorative libation, this go-to hangover cocktail has been a loyal pick-me-up for decades. Preparing a small, rhesus-negative Bloody Mary is just the ticket the morning after the night before.

Ingredients: 2 ounces vodka, 4 ounces tomato juice, 1/2 tablespoon lemon juice, 1 splash Worcestershire sauce, 3 to 4 dashes Tabasco, 1 teaspoon horseradish

Further Reading