Party Services So Cal

"Making your next event a memorable one"

Classic Cocktails, History and Recipe

Just what makes a cocktail a classic? The AMERICAN HERITAGE DICTIONARY lists several definitions of classic, including "of the highest rank or class," "serving as the established model or standard" and "having lasting historical, cultural or literary associations." Combine these three definitions and you get a sense of what a classic cocktail is. Classic Cocktails also lead to inspiration. They encourage us to create new tastes, textures, and approaches to the standards. From these classics, basic techniques are learned and mastered and an exponential number of new cocktails are invented.

Margarita – The Margarita is among the most popular drinks ever. One reason for the demand is that it goes so well with food. The margarita’s balanced blend of sweet-tart earthiness and acidity cuts through the richness and spice of many foods.

Kosher salt for rimming the glass

1 ounce fresh lime juice, some lime rind reserved for rimming the glass.

2 ounces tequila

1.5 ounces Cointreau

Lime for garnish

Pour the salt onto a small plate. Cut the reserved lime rind as necessary and rub the juicy side along the outer edge of the lip of the glass- not along the inside of the rim. Holding the glass at an angle, roll the outer edge of the rim in the salt until it is fully coated.

Fill a cocktail shaker with ice and add lime juice, tequila, and Cointreau. Shake vigorously until the outside of the shaker is beaded with sweat and frosty.

Strain into the salted glasses, garnish with a lime and serve.

FROTHY MARGARITA Prepare the Margarita, substituting 1 ounce lime sour mix for the lime juice.

FROZEN MARGARITA Prepare the Margarita, placing the tequila, Cointreau, and lime juice in a blender, using 1 cup of crushed ice. Blend until smooth and pour into salted glass.

CADILLAC MARTARITA Grand Marnier has a much more pronounced orange flavor and more intensity than Cointreau. Prepare as usual, using Grand Marnier in place of the Cointreau. Garnish with orange zest.

Manhattan - The original Manhattan, created in 1874 at the Manhattan Club in New York was made with sweet vermouth and rye, which produces a smooth mellow cocktail. Over time, multiple variations of the Manhattan have developed with tweaks to both the whiskey and the vermouth, so that today you can have a classic sweet Manhattan, made with only sweet vermouth; a Dry Manhattan made with only dry vermouth; or a Perfect Manhattan made with equal amounts of both. And as bourbon has become increasingly popular over the last few decades, it has found its way into the Manhattan in place of the rye whiskey, giving a richer cocktail with more bite and a hint of smokiness. Make yours according to your taste-- sweet, dry, or perfect-- and with either bourbon or rye. No matter what style you prefer, don't be afraid to use the bitters, as they make the drink fuller and more flavorful.

2 1/2 ounces rye or bourbon whiskey

1/2 ounce sweet vermouth

2 Maraschino cherries for garnish

Fill glass with ice and add all the ingredients. Stir vigorously until the glass is beaded with sweat and frosty. Strain into a cocktail glass, garnish with the Cherries and serve.

Trick of the Trade- If using homemade Maraschino Cherries, add a drop of the maraschino liquid to the Manhattan for an extra hint of fruit.

Dry Manhattan- Dry Manhattans make a great palate opener before dinner. Substituting Lillet Blanc for the vermouth adds a distinctive orange note and more fruitiness. Also, try using an orange twist instead of lemon.

2 1/2 ounces rye or bourbon whiskey

1/2 ounce dry vermouth or Lillet Blanc

2 dashes Angostura bitters

1 lemon twist for garnish

Fill glass with ice and add all the ingredients. Stir vigorously until the glass is beaded with sweat and frosty. Strain into a cocktail glass, garnish with the lemon twist and serve. 

Perfect Manhattan - Adding both sweet and dry vermouth makes the perfect Manhattan a complex marriage of flavors. For a truly unique drink, substitute cherry brandy for the sweet vermouth. The result is a dry fruit flavor that is both refreshing and palate cleansing.

2 1/2 ounces rye or bourbon whiskey

1/2 ounce dry vermouth

1/2 once sweet vermouth or cherry brandy

2 dashes Angostura bitters

1 lemon twist for garnish

Fill glass with ice and add all the ingredients. Stir vigorously until the glass is beaded with sweat and frosty. Strain into a cocktail glass, garnish with the lemon twist and serve.

Classic Martini- The martini is the world's most celebrated cocktail. No other drink inspires such heasted debate over both its master and its method. The original martinis were made from gin, as vodka was not really introduced into the United States until the 1930's. A vodka martini is more subtle and clearer tasting, while a gin martini has more pronounced aromatics and a bigger bite. A martini is not a martini without at least a drop of vermouth- how much or how little is purely a matter of taste. The less vermouth, the drier the martini. On the topic of stirring versus shaking, i prefer to stir martinis. In my opinion clear liquor drinks without juice, such as the martini, should be stirred, as shaking tends to give them a fuzzy texture. The classic garnish for a martini is an olive. You can try a fresh bay leaf for a distinctive touch.

3 1/2 ounces gin or vodka

1/2 oz dry vermouth

Fill glass with ice and add the gin or vodka and vermouth. Stir about 50 times. Strian into cocktail glass, add olives or bay leaf and serve.

Martinez - Jerry Thomas the great bartender at the Occidental Hotel in San Francisco, created this drink in 1864 for a gold miner on his way to Martinez, California- or so they story goes. Since some of the original ingredients are either no longer available or extremely hard to find, here is an updated version for today's tastes.

1.5 ounces gin

1.5 ounces sweet vermouth

1/2 ounce grenadine

1/4 simple syrup

1/4 Cointreau

dash bitters

Lemon twist for garnish

Fill glass with ice and add all the ingredients except the lemon twist. Stir vigorously until the glass is beaded with sweat and frosty. Strain into a cocktail glass, garnish with the lemon twist and serve.

Dirty Martini - A salt-lover's paradise in a glass, the dirty martini was popularized by Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who served it to Joseph Stalin at the Tehran Conference during World War II. The olive brine adds a flavorful, savory note and appealing texture to the drink.

3 ounces gin or vodka

1/2 ounce dry vermouth

1 teaspoon brine from olives

2 cocktail olives

Fill glass with ice and add all the ingredients except the olive. Stir vigorously until the glass is beaded with sweat and frosty. Strain into a cocktail glass, garnish with the olives and serve.

Gibson - The exact origin of the Gibson is unclear, with numerous popular tales and theories about its genesis. According to one popular theory Charles Dana Gibson is responsible for the creation of the Gibson, when he supposedly challenged Charley Connolly, the bartender of the Players Club in New York City, to improve upon the martini's recipe, so Connolly simply substituted an onion for the olive and named the drink after the patron. Other stories involve different Gibsons, such as an apocryphal American diplomat who served in Europe during Prohibition. All we know for sure it is very important that you don't skimp on the quality of the onion when making this drink, for the Gibson is all about the onion.

3.5 ounces gin or vodka

1/2 oz dry vermouth

1 teaspoon brine from onions, optional

Fill glass with ice and add the gin or vodka and vermouth. Stir about 50 times. Strian into cocktail glass, add onion and serve.