Five cocktails every man should know how to order

Because the bartender is there to be told how to mix your drink…

Picture the scene: you’re about to order a cocktail at a refined establishment such as Dukes Hotel, say, but you don’t quite know how to order it. You might want a Manhattan, but how many parts should the drink have? And will any kind of tonic do? Banish these quandaries and nerves with our foolproof guide to ordering the most essential of cocktails.


Brought to prominence in the Waldorf Astoria hotel bar, New York, the Old Fashioned the strongest of all the cocktails here:

  • Request 3 oz of bourbon whiskey and specify Buffalo Trace Bourbon or Bulleit Straight Bourbon Frontier should they have it.
  • Ensure there are 2 dashes of Angostura bitters (only they will do here) and a dash of club soda.
  • Ask for one sugar cube and insist on a large ball of ice, not crushed (to prevent it melting and premature dilution of the drink).
  • Finally, the traditional garnish is an orange slice and cocktail cherry.

Its elemental, classic and innate to the bartending world about how to make a Martini. Indeed, men of the world have waxed lyrical over its qualities. First choose your gin and stick to it:

  • Tanqueray, Old Tom, even Beefeater are perfectly fine and won’t sully the flavours of the vermouth.
  • Ask for 2 fl oz of gin.
  • 3 tsp of dry vermouth. Dry vermouth is bitter and less sugary, so for a more dry martini, you’ll need to ask for more vermouth. If in doubt just ask the bartender for “3:1 ratio of Vermouth”.
  • Shaken or stirred? It stands to reason shaken will go into a cocktail and strained into your glass, stirred will be judiciously placed in a cocktail shaker with ice and gradually stirred for 30 seconds, which results in a smoother flavour.
  • Garnishing. If you want lemon, simply state with twist or if you’d prefer a slightly drier essence, ask for an olive.

A veritably simple cocktail to order but the devil is in the detail, avoid overdoing it with the citrus flavours:

  • Insist on 1 fl oz of cognac – Prunier VS if they have it.
  • Team with orange liqueur – Prunier will complement the cognac choice but Cointreau isn’t too distasteful.
  • 1 fl oz lemon juice
  • 0.5 oz of simple syrup. Some barmen opt for lime too, but it doesn’t necessarily need it.
  • Finally, ensure it’s shaken, with a hint of sugar around the rim of the glass.

Nothing says aperitif more than a Brandy Alexander, but be sagacious about how much creme de cacao you add. This was John Lennon’s tipple of choice when on his ‘Lost Weekend’ break from Yoko Ono. And that lasted 18 months…

  • Choose a decent brandy as a base for the drink. V.S.O.P or X.O. will increase the cocktail’s flavour profile.
  • 1 fl oz brown creme de cacao such as Briottet.
  • 1 fl oz heavy cream.
  • Ice and grated nutmeg to serve.

When placing your order for this, ask the barman to crush the ice very finely, and ensure you have Bulleit Bourbon for the whiskey. The bartender will ask you if you like it dry or sweet: remember the drier you’d like it, the more vermouth you add. Your order will include:

  • 1.5 fl oz of American rye whiskey.
  • Typically, 1.5 fl oz vermouth.
  • 2 dashes of sugar syrup.
  • 1-2 dashes of Boker’s bitters.
  • Ask for it to be mixed and served in a cocktail glass.

Here’s one of our cocktails of the week to try yourself.

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