5 Classic Cocktails Every Man Should Know

by Brett on June 1, 2009 · 81 comments

in Food & Drink, Out on the Town, Travel & Leisure


Editor’s Note: This is a guest post from Mike Hagan, a  bartender and a recent feature in our So You Want My Job Series.

There’s been a trend lately to get back to the old way of doing things, especially when it comes to things we ingest. People are eating organic produce, for example, and some are going as far as planting their own gardens. Many chefs are serving old-world comfort food right next to their innovative dishes. This trend has also entered the world of libations. Drink menus around the country are starting to have more of the old classics included on them. Many mixologists are using these cocktails as starting points for newer versions that take advantage of the plethora of products out there today. Recipe books from classic bars such as the Old Waldorf-Astoria, The Savoy, and the Stork Club are available in reprint editions for the new generation to use. And who can forget Old Mr. Boston? They’ve been printings those books since 1935 and still do to this day.

But you don’t need a recipe book to get started mixing up some of the classic cocktails men have been drinking for decades (and in some cases, more than a century). Here’s how to create the 5 classic cocktails every man should know.

Let’s make some drinks!

1.  The Old Fashioned


Image by Made in Mississippi

The Old Fashioned is a bourbon based cocktail, but try it with any whisky. You may find you like the sweeter taste of a Canadian whisky, the more sour taste of the Tennessee stuff, or, for some complexity, use rye. This drink uses a short round glass, sometimes called an Old Fashioned glass, after the drink itself.

Put 1 sugar cube in glass

Add 2-3 dashes of Angostura bitters

Add 1 Splash of Soda Water

Muddle (smash) until sugar is dissolved

Fill glass with ice cubes

Add whiskey to the top of the glass, stir

Garnish with an orange slice and maraschino cherry

Notes on Muddling: To muddle just means to smash. You can use whatever is at your disposal. Some bartenders muddle with the back of their bar spoon for light muddling and use a muddler (basically a wooden dowel about the width of a broom handle) for more intense smashing.


For a sweeter drink, add more sugar or muddle a peeled orange slice along with the sugar and bitters. For a weaker drink, use less whisky and top with soda water. Use just whiskey, sugar, and bitters to make the Sazerac (swirl the glass with absinthe and dump out before filling for a true one).

2.  The Manhattan


Image by larryvincent

Another whiskey based cocktail, more of a variation on a Martini. Where the Martini is gin and dry vermouth, the Manhattan is whiskey and sweet vermouth. And don’t forget the bitters! Angostura or Peychaud’s works fine.

  • 3 parts Canadian or Rye Whiskey
  • 1 part Sweet (Red) Vermouth
  • 1 dash bitters

Make in mixing glass filled with ice. Stir until very cold (stirring is very important to help the ice melt to water it down a bit and make it more palatable). Pour into cocktail glass and garnish with a maraschino cherry.


Trade the whiskey for scotch to make it a Rob Roy. Trade with brandy for a Metropolitan. If you desire the drink to be sweeter, add some juice from the maraschino cherries.

3.  The Tom Collins


The Tom Collins is a classic long drink. It’s a cool, summer drink, built over ice and served in a tall, slender glass, often called a Collins glass. It’s gin-based, sweet and bubbly.

  • 1 1/2 oz Gin
  • 1/2 oz Simple Syrup*
  • Juice of 1/2 Lemon
  • Soda Water

Shake Gin, Simple Syrup and Lemon Juice over ice. Fill Collins glass with ice and strain drink into glass. Top with soda water and gently stir. Garnish with orange slice and maraschino cherry.

*Note about Simple Syrup. Simple syrup can be purchased, but it’s easy to make yourself. Heat a cup of water almost to boil and add a cup of sugar, stirring until completely dissolved. Let cool and add to a container for storage. Should be kept in refrigerator. To make bigger quantities, just make sure to use equal parts sugar and water.


Trade vodka for gin to make a Vodka Collins, tequila for a Juan Collins, or rum for a Rum Collins. If you choose to use whiskey and take out the soda water, you’ve essentially made a whiskey sour.

4.  The Sidecar


A popular French cocktail, as it uses two liquors made in France. Can be served in a sour glass (a smaller version of an old fashioned glass) or up in a cocktail glass

  • 3/4 ounce Cointreau
  • 3/4 ounce lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 ounces cognac

Shake over ice and pour into sugar rimmed glass. Garnish with lemon twist.


This recipe is the “french school.” The English school” calls for a slightly less sweet drink, using more Cognac and less Cointreau, about 3 parts to 1 part, and 1 part lemon juice.

5.  The Martini


Image by peapicker

Last, but not least, we have the Martini. The most argued about cocktail in the history of drinking. Stir or shake? Vermouth or none? Glass or metal tin? The Martini is THE drink that signifies nightlife and cocktails in general. When someone needs to use one image to symbolize drinking, more often than not, it’s the Martini. That sexy glass, clear liquor, green olive with red pimento. Makes me thirsty just thinking about it.

I’m going to give you the International Bartender’s Association’s official recipe, then explain the countless variations.

  • 4 parts Gin
  • 1 part dry vermouth (sometimes called French or white vermouth)

Pour all ingredients into mixing glass over ice and stir well. Strain into chilled cocktail glass. Squeeze lemon peel over the drink, discard. Garnish with one green olive.


The variations on the Martini could fill a whole book. Keep in mind there is no “right” way, only the way you want your drink. I’ll list a few of the most popular.

Vodka Martini: use vodka in place of gin, garnish with lemon twist

Churchill: A Martini with no vermouth. Basically cold gin in a glass. Legend has it Churchill would “look in the direction of France” and that would be plenty of vermouth.

Roosevelt: Two olives instead of one. Even number of olives is considered bad luck by some.

Dirty Martini: Add olive brine to taste.

Burnt Martini: Uses scotch instead of vermouth.

Buckeye: Martini with a black olive.

Gibson: Martini with an onion instead of an olive.

Dickens: Martini with no garnish. No “olive or twist”.

Vesper Martini: 3 parts Gin, 1 part Vodka, 1/2 part Lillet, lemon twist, shaken, not stirred. James Bond’s martini. Also called a 007.

Bradford: A standard Martini shaken, not stirred.

Notes on vermouth: when someone orders their Martini “dry” or “extra dry” that means to use LESS dry vermouth. People will order a Martini with no vermouth, not knowing that they’re ordering a Churchill. Some prefer the “in-and-out” method, which means to pour vermouth over ice into the mixing glass you’ll be using for the Martini and dumping it straight out before adding the Gin. Some will order a “Perfect” Martini, which in the cocktail world means equal parts sweet and dry vermouth. Others will order a “Sweet” Martini, meaning the use of sweet vermouth is preferred over dry. These will be garnished with a cherry.

Notes on garnishes: Traditionally, a single green olive or a lemon rind twist is used. Using a cocktail onion makes it a Gibson. One of the origin stories is, an American diplomat who did not drink would ask that his glass be filled with water and garnished with an onion instead of an olive so he could pick his glass out of a sea of Martinis. There are a few others. No one really knows the truth, which is part of the fun. Some people garnish with pickled okra, jalapeno peppers, pickles, lemon twists, lime twists. The possibilities are endless.

Notes on stirring or shaking: Traditionally, the drink is stirred. Some people believe shaking causes tiny bubbles which don’t allow for the drink to fully hit the tongue, making it unable to cleanse the palate fully between courses of food. Or that it “bruises the gin” making it taste sharper and less palatable. Others claim that shaking is the way to go, that “bruising the gin” is preferred because it releases the botanical oils in the gin and makes for a more floral drink. There is a taste difference, and it is a matter of preference.

These are five classic cocktails, and with the variations, many more. There are many I left out, and some of you will have your favorites that I didn’t include. I tried to choose ones that are classic, popular, easy to make, and have stood the test of time, so you can do it at home. Enjoy, have fun, and hopefully you’ll find an new favorite in an old classic.

{ 79 comments… read them below or add one }

1 P June 1, 2009 at 7:10 am

The Old Fashion, Manhattan, and the Side Car are staples of my evenings out.

2 Eric Granata June 1, 2009 at 7:15 am

Great article. The last couple of summers I have enjoyed the Americano Highball. Build Campari and sweet vermouth in a highball. Top with soda water and a twist of lemon. So good. It’s like Fresca for big kids :-D

3 David Barnes June 1, 2009 at 7:53 am

Maybe not the manliest choice, but the White Russian is top of my list of cocktails — and it’s so forgiving you can make it any way you like. (Although my attempts to use powdered milk for it always ended in failure, I must admit.)

What’s all this crazy stuff at the bottom of the screen?

4 CoffeeZombie June 1, 2009 at 8:12 am

This sort of thing is for a classier man than I. Liquor is expensive; who can afford all of this!

Which is why I simply prefer to enjoy my whiskey straight, no ice, maybe a dash of water, while sitting on my front porch swing enjoying the summer evening.

Well, okay, that is true, but I do enjoy cocktails. I recently learned how to make a Long Island Iced Tea, and made my sister-in-law one for her 21st birthday. Talk about an expensive drink to make…

Also, I must say, I really like the tone of this article when discussing the various variations on drinks. I’m reminded of an earlier article on how to make a martini that seemed rather insistent on “this is the way to make a martini!” and allowed for no variation (at least, that’s how it came across to me). I really appreciate the more level-headed approach here.

5 Alex Shalman June 1, 2009 at 8:18 am

My latest cocktail of choice has been the Manhattan (and with slightly different measurements than you have here). I’m interested in trying some of these other ones though, look appetizing.

6 Brian June 1, 2009 at 9:42 am

I personally prefer the “perfect” Manhattan which uses sweet and dry vermouth in equal parts and generally I prefer it on the rocks. When done with quality vermouth and Maker’s Mark Bourbon it is heaven in a glass.

7 Thad June 1, 2009 at 10:02 am

What about the classic summer drinks?

Mint Julep
et al …

8 O June 1, 2009 at 11:28 am

Point of order: most classic drinks recipes that call for the muddling of sugar or the inclusion of superfine sugar only do so because they were created in the days before ubiquitous refrigeration. Such sweeteners should be replaced with simple syrup (as in the Collins recipe) in this day and age. Unless of course, your guests prefer undissolved sugar grit in their cocktail.

Personally I would have given the Sazerac its own spot on the list as America’s first cocktail. I understand why the author included it as a variation of the Old Fashioned. But please, only Peychaud’s bitters and never leave the twist in the glass!

9 Chalkeus June 1, 2009 at 11:38 am

When I saw the headline I had to think of the Martini immediately. Although most cocktails are “tasty” in the way that they taste sweet and fruity because of their ingredients, I agree that some simply have more class than others Unfortunately I’m not old enough to have a whisky-taste now, but a dry martini or a “Churchill” are absoutely perfect when mixed correctly (and cold). A caipirinha or mojito can be fun once in a while (and at the beach…), but “Sex on the Beach”, “Swimming Pool” or “Pina Colada” are simply not drinks a man would order in a bar. Leave that stuff to the girls. :)

My first post here by the way, so let me add what a great website this is.
Greetings from Germany!

10 Sgt. Major R June 1, 2009 at 11:42 am

I had the occasion last year, while in Rancho Mirage CA, to receive a two hour lesson on bartending from Frank Sinatra’s old bartender. It was a great experience and brought about a thorough understanding of some great cocktails. Is it 5pm yet?

11 catfish June 1, 2009 at 11:46 am

They all look and sound good, but Ive been absolutely hooked on the old favorite, ‘alabama slamma’ for the past 3 months and dont see an end in sight. Hawaiian punch for adults. Niiice.

12 ManiacFIve June 1, 2009 at 12:16 pm

No rum based cocktails? For shame.

13 Cutter June 1, 2009 at 12:50 pm

Good summary. I might add that when making an Old Fashioned, it was originally to be made with rye whiskey. Nowadays, with rye not nearly as popular as it once was, it is perfectly acceptable to make it with a quality bourbon instead.

(Then there’s Wisconsin. Unless you specifically tell the bartender to use whiskey in your Old Fashioned, they will use brandy! I always get strange looks from them when I tell them it should be made with whiskey; many have never heard of using anything other than brandy before. They’re obsessed with brandy in Wisconsin for some reason.)

Also, regarding the Vesper, remember that there are two types of Lillet: Rouge (red) and Blanc (white). The Vesper calls for Lillet Blanc.

14 Chris P. June 1, 2009 at 1:04 pm

I have a love of several of these drinks, but take some liberties with the sidecar. Thanks for sharing the inspiration… I need to familiarize myself more with the Tom Collins.

For my sidecar, I follow a recipe created by the bartender of the Higgins Restaurant’s Bar in Portland (from The World’s Best Bartender’s guide) – it decreases the amount of cointreau and its sweetness, but adds back some with a touch of sugar to the drink, and the drink is made with both lemon and lime. It is a favorite.

15 James June 1, 2009 at 5:10 pm

Well, I wouldn’t use Canadian or Rye whiskey for a Manhattan, the only acceptable whiskey to use is Kentucky bourbon, or in a pinch, Tennessee whiskey.

16 julia June 2, 2009 at 2:30 am

Like the wine .


17 Rick June 2, 2009 at 3:58 am

One of my favorite drinks is an Old Fashioned…..half teaspoon of sugar instead of the sugar cube,one teaspoon of water,three generous dashes of Angostura then muddle…..add ice,stir again,then2oz bourbon/whisky/rye…NO cherry garnish!!! This is a MANLY drink!!! DO add some orange or lemon peel.

18 Andrew M. June 2, 2009 at 5:23 pm

An important point to remember for those of us who haven’t had much experience with ordering cocktails: always be able to explain how to make your drink to the bartender. You don’t want to look like a fool when ordering a less common cocktail, and the bartender has never heard of it.

19 Fingersoup June 3, 2009 at 5:07 am

A piece of advice – if you have to explain a classic cocktail to your bartender, choose another bar…

20 Joe June 3, 2009 at 4:36 pm

Sazerac needs to be on this list.

21 Greg Throne June 4, 2009 at 5:51 am

Someone wants a rum cocktail? Rum, water & lemon juice. Prevents scurvy. US Navy daily issue until Josephus Daniels “dried” the fleet.

22 Crash June 7, 2009 at 6:51 pm

Some misinformation in this article (and comments) needs to be addressed.

A proper Manhattan is made with rye whiskey. Bourbon is an acceptable variation, however. Since Canadian whisky is mostly rye, Canadian whisky is also acceptable.

The historically-proper Tom Collins is made with Old Tom gin, not a London Dry style of gin. Hayman’s Old Tom Gin is, at the moment, the only commercially available Old Tom gin in the United States, but there are others available in the U.K. (and, presumably, Europe)

There are three principle types of vermouth: dry, sweet (red), and blanc (semi-sweet). Do not confuse blanc vermouth with dry vermouth just because dry vermouth is “white” in color.

Note also that different brands of vermouth will change a Martini’s taste. The 4:1 ratio of gin to vermouth might be fine with older-formula Noilly-Pratt, or Martini & Rossi, but not with Dolin, which is better prepared as 2:1 or even 1:1. It is worth experimenting to determine one’s own preferences.

The Lillet blanc sold on the market today is NOT the ingredient that was used in the Vesper (a.k.a. James Bond cocktail). The ingredient in question was Kina Lillet, which is no longer produced. The closest approximation to Kina Lillet available is Cocchi Aperitivo Americano (available in Europe, possibly elsewhere, returning to the U.S.A. market in September ’09)

Good list, though. A nice starting point. The Manhattan is the so-called “King” of cocktails.

23 Mike June 9, 2009 at 8:52 pm

Great comments on my article, folks. I think that the best thing about cocktails is that THERE IS NO RIGHT WAY! Only the way YOU wanna make it, only the way YOU want to drink it. Like those crazy brandy Old Fashioned Wisconsiners.

The important thing is to have fun. If you get too bogged down in exact this, type-of that, it stops being fun. I tried to list easy drinks that people would be able to make at home, that are also classics. I hope I did the trick.

24 Matt S. June 10, 2009 at 7:28 am

I’ve done some reading on cocktails, and most of the fruit garnished ones appeared after Prohibition. Before then, bartenders were artisans of the highest order, like chefs. When Prohibition came and they all ran to London, Paris, Singapore, Havana, et. al., the people left to tend bar were young men who 1) didn’t have a lot of experience and 2) were having to work with often inferior and marginal products purchased from illegal/mafia connections. Because of the truly rot-gut nature of a lot of the liquors, fruit juice and fruit pieces needed to be added to make the drinks palatable. After Prohibition ended, and good stuff was once again available, inertia caused the fruit to stay.

For instance, a pre-Prohibition Old Fashioned was merely a few dashes of sugar (as a previous commenter posted, the advent of refrigeration makes simple syrup a better choice now, try two tablespoons) and a bit of flat, not carbonated, water over ice, stirred to get the ice melting, a few dashes of bitters, and fill it up with bourbon or rye, and stir one last time to combine. If you’re using higher end whiskey, try it this way sometime for comparison.

Of course, if it’s really high end whiskey, drink it neat or with just a splash of spring water–20 year old Pappy Van Winkle will change your life as-is, and putting anything extra in it is akin to blaspheming Bacchus!

25 Lush June 14, 2009 at 7:52 am

Seriously, why is a Sazerac not given top billing? This is outrageous. It’s the first cocktail and thus most classic of all. Calling it a mere variation is fightin’ words. I demand a recount. And a free round.

26 Nicholas June 15, 2009 at 5:01 am

How can you put together a list of manly cocktails and miss BOTH the daiquiri AND the margarita?

27 Rachel June 15, 2009 at 8:29 am

For reference, Tom Collins should be made with Lime not Lemon. It bothers me to no end when it’s made with lemon.

28 Chris Partida July 1, 2009 at 1:53 pm

The best Old Fashioned I ever had was at a great whisky bar in Downtown LA called Seven Grand (http://www.sevengrand.la/). It’s all made from scratch, I chose to have it made with Maker’s Mark. I need to go back there soon.

29 Beefeater July 16, 2009 at 10:05 am

Very interesting read! Although i have to say i am more of stirred martini man myself. Top mixologists will go with stirred. The flavour is more balanced and less bitter than the shaken.

Does shaking get it colder? Yes, a bit. You need to work a little more at stirring longer, with the right sized and amount of ice. Or even stirring it ina tin rather than glass. Ideally, you want it cold and diluted, but not too much of either that the flavours will be masked.

Great video here: http://www.beefeatergin.com/mixology/video.php?video=drymartini

30 MIKE July 16, 2009 at 4:15 pm


Scotch; Variants of the drink include the Dry Rob Roy, which is made with dry vermouth and the Perfect Rob Roy, which is made with equal parts sweet and dry vermouth. The drink traditionally contains Angostura bitters.

31 Seth August 1, 2009 at 12:34 pm

I’d like to try the Sazerac – I love me some absinthe. :)

32 JohnH August 14, 2009 at 1:13 pm

Nice article, and I’m happy you liked my martini pic. I heartily endorse the recipe that the IBA has for the martini, 4:1 is to One True Ratio of gin to vermouth. (grin). I do insist that Martinis are best with Noilly Pratt Dry vermouth… Martini and Rossi is just not nearly as good. I won’t insist on any particular gin, that is very personal. Vodka martinis aren’t nearly as interesting, and require more like an 8:1 or 9:1 ratio with the vermouth.

I enjoy all classic cocktails. A Manhattan or Collins is a wonderful thing, as is a nice Gin and Tonic.

33 SR August 25, 2009 at 12:02 am

Excellent article. Refreshing to see no mention of Apple-tinis or the like.

I tend toward a 4:1 Martini, Gordons (when on a budget) or Plymouth Gin with Noilly Pratt, shaken, a twist, no olive. Andrew M’s comment about being ready to explain is noteworthy (as is Fingersoup’s reply): I, too often, have to explain what I want in a Martini– no olives, no vodka, no fruit flavours, etc.

I will admit to enjoying Brandy Alexanders or Stingers after dinner, too

34 Bob August 30, 2009 at 11:19 pm

A Manhattan made with rye whiskey, is not called a Manhattan, instead it is known as a ‘Rob Roy.’ Any real man, or ‘heavy drinker’, would know the difference. JK!

35 Matt September 15, 2009 at 6:21 pm

#6 Gin & Tonic

Also for Martini’s, I do prefer the ‘in & out’ method… just a tiny hint of Vermouth

And regarding shaking and stirring, I subscribe to the convention of stirring spirit-only drinks and shaking drinks that have mixers (juice, ect…) unless the mixer is carbonated (such as a gin & tonic)

36 David September 29, 2009 at 5:16 pm

What, no Daiquiri? There is no better summer cooler, in my opinion. No, I don’t mean one of those snow cones with rum and syrupy sweet strawberry flavoring, I mean a real Daiquiri. To wit:

3/4 oz. fresh-squeezed lime juice
scant 1/2 oz. simple syrup* (or more, to taste, if you prefer a sweeter drink)
2 oz. light rum

Pour ingredients in a cocktail shaker. Add ice, shake until very cold. Serve in a chilled cocktail glass.

Serve your guests one of these Cuban coolers on a steamy day and you will be amazed how many requests you will get for another round!


* Simple syrup is simply sugar water. To make, add one cup sugar to one cup water. Heat to boiling, stirring constantly. Continue to boil for 2-3 minutes. Let cool, skim off any “film” on the surface and bottle. Will keep in the refrigerator for several weeks.

37 Gryphon MacThoy October 16, 2009 at 12:24 pm

Martini’s – I hate being asked if I want a vodka martini. Bartenders know, but don’t know that I also know, what I’m talking about. It’s the idiot masses wot make things difficult.

My fav cocktails are made with either rum or ginger ale.

I’ve decided that any 1 to 2 mix of a normal booze and ginger ale is a type of “Buck”. Rum Buck, Bourbon Buck, Gin Buck, Jack Buck (Applejack brandy), etc. Just two parts, real simple. I know some of these already have other names, but I like the commonality of the Ginger Ale forming some sense with a common name.

Rum is my sipper. Over rocks, bit of citrus garnish. Easily as complex as scotch, rum takes time to explore. Of course, I also like to get ripped on rum and cola, all night long, too.

38 Ewan October 17, 2009 at 5:42 am

The manliest cocktail I know is the one my dad’s friend used to make when visiting my dad when I was a lad. Take a pint mug—preferably one of the now old-fashioned mugs shaped like the lower half of a pineapple with lots of concave facets—and half-fill it with Scotch whisky. Add to this a crushed and chopped clove of garlic, then grate a substantial lump of ginger into the mug using the finer part of a cheesegrater. Fill the mug almost to the brim with boiling water. It’s important to put the whisky into the mug first so as not the crack the glass. There’s a manly drink.

39 Steven November 11, 2009 at 7:35 pm

Not a classic, but awesome nonetheless: The Godfather. Equal parts scotch whiskey and amaretto on the rocks.

For this I prefer the cheap amaretto, not the branded kinds, and a 12 year Glenlivet.

I know a lot of people think cocktails are expensive – and building a bar is – but it’s comparable to a beer. I grab 1.5l bottles of Jack Daniels no.7 at Costco for about $20, and that makes a few dozen drinks. A 12 pack of good beer is at least $9, so we’re almost even on cost per drink there, not to mention liquor is a stronger drink so you don’t drink as many of them.

40 criolle November 18, 2009 at 9:08 am

I have a laid-back hobby, making candles. I’ve been making “drink” candles for several years. You’ve given me a few new ideas.
I have made “White Russians” with gel ice cubes using vanilla and chocolate fragrances. Cut a small piece of straw and slip it over the wick and watch someone try to sip it … I’ve even seen a waitress pick one up and slide a napkin under it!

41 JohnH December 6, 2009 at 1:28 am

Manhattan cocktails are truly made with Rye. Rob Roy is the same recipe, but you use Scotch instead of Rye.

42 Chris December 9, 2009 at 7:44 pm

What kind of idiot wrote this article? These are not drinks people need top know. They are drinks that most people over the age of 60 know. They are NOT what is in these days. Sidecars have gone the way of the side care and should stay that way. Tom Collins and Manahattans are also dying out. The Martini will never die but there is so many varaitions on it. Teach men about Beer and Wine and how to drink a real scotch.
I have been bartending for 16 years and have made 2 side cars. With the influx of Micro-brew and home vinyards people need to know that is more out there than bud or Ultra.

Get a real bartender to write for you, not someoone who will placate the posers of the world.

Chris Dennison

43 Hunter January 16, 2010 at 4:31 pm

I hate to be the picky one, but the recipe for an old fashioned is not quite right.

The big issue if the addition of soda water. This is a new technique that is generally attributed to books that are meant to train new bartenders listing soda as an ingredient to this classic cocktail.

No such thing was done when the drink was originally made, so I’d say this could use some revision.

44 Bucksix February 6, 2010 at 10:28 pm

Having a home made Old Fashioned as I write this, but alas, no bitters on hand.
1 Orange slice
1 Cherry
1 Tsp Sugar
Crush and mix Fruit and Sugar
2 Oz. Elijah Craig Bourbon
over ice with Orange Slice,
Everything is Nice!

45 Shane February 18, 2010 at 7:06 pm

Recipe for a “Screaming Elvis”. In a one gallon goldfish bowl, combine 6 parts absinthe, 4 parts rye whiskey, 1 teaspoon battery acid, and a rusty railroad spike consisting of alternating pig eyeballs and maricino cherries for garnish. It’ll put haiur on your chest and blood in your urine!

46 Mark February 28, 2010 at 3:21 pm

I have two small problems here that weren’t mentioned before in the comments. First the Old Fashioned isn’t technically a bourbon or rye cocktail – it’s not even a whiskey cocktail. An Old Fashioned Cocktail is just a cocktail made by adding sugar, ice, bitters and usually either orange or lemon peel to a spirit. An Old Fashioned Whiskey Cocktail is made with whiskey, an Old Fashioned Gin Cocktail is made with gin (and is surprisingly pleasant), etc. The origin of the name dates back to the point in time when the word “cocktail” started to mean more than just “a spirit with bitters, sugar, and ice added to it”. People who wanted what the word “cocktail” used to mean would ask for an old fashioned stye cocktail, ie, not one of the newer fancier ones that had vermouth in them.

Secondly the Manhattan isn’t a variation of a Martini. In fact the relationship is precisely the opposite: the Martini developed as a Manhattan made with gin. (The early drinks that led eventually to the Martini, like the Martinez, even taste similar to a Manhattan.)

47 Tbone March 24, 2010 at 2:44 am

I agree with the poster who lamented the lack of a rum drink. A daiquiri made in the classic Hemingway era style would have sufficed as a fine summer drink. Also, please resist the urge to turn your old fashioned into a fruit basket. Twist a lemon peel over it and then throw it out. That’s how FDR drank his and he led us through a depression and a war. Other than that the list is fine.

To Bob who posted on December 6th, 2009 about the Rob Roy being made with rye. That sir, is nonsense. A Manhattan is ALWAYS made with rye whiskey. A Rob Roy is a variation which uses scotch whisky.

Of course if the scotch is decent, why would you put anything in it?

48 Martin April 9, 2010 at 1:58 pm

Rob Roy every time. The key when making a rob roy is to use a blended whisky that’s better for mixed drinks; I prefer a combination of Johnny Walker red and green. It’s also good to go half-half with the vermouth, mixing sweet and dry. I also favor a splash of drambuie, and the bitters are an absolute must.
My recipe:
1.5 oz JW red
1.5 oz JW green
1/2 oz sweet vermouth
1/2 oz dry vermouth
1 splash Drambuie
2-3 dashes of Angostura bitters

Shake on ice, strain, and garnish with a maraschino cherry.

49 Matt April 13, 2010 at 12:36 am

Man make beer.

50 lew April 13, 2010 at 12:34 pm

You missed ‘molotov’. A genuinely manly concoction.

51 Fred April 13, 2010 at 3:20 pm

Why do I suddenly crave a Roast Duck with Mango Salsa?

52 Andy May 30, 2010 at 1:14 pm

I learned about the Manhattan from my grandfather. It was his drink of choice and “house” cocktail: he mixed them by the gallon, and kept the jug his garage fridge. When he turned 75, everyone he new gave him a handle of Crown. It’s been the traditional family drink ever since.

53 Mike Z. July 11, 2010 at 7:48 pm

Going camping this week, taking the whole bar with me, looking forward to making:
Daiquiri , tom collins, martini, vodka gimlet, mojito, mint julip. We’ve been having fun making classic cocktails for afew summers now. When on vacation……..it’s always 5 o’clock somewhere.

54 Matt M. August 1, 2010 at 4:10 pm

While I certainly disagree with Chris Dennison’s tone, I think he must be right about at least one of these drinks dying out. I ordered an old fashioned last night and the waitress asked “What’s in that?”
I assume she figured the bartender wouldn’t know, either.
Instead of trying to explain it over the band, I settled for something else a little more standard, rather disappointingly.

55 Puzzled August 21, 2010 at 1:17 pm

I think some commentators seem to have missed the point of the article. Manly culture in part is about bringing back quality basics that are no longer popular. To complain that the drinks mentioned here aren’t, in fact, very popular, is to miss the point entirely. Neither is proper shaving, neither is being “the rock,” neither is being manly for that matter. If I went with what’s in, I’d drink watered down beer, use an electric razor, and talk about my feelings while letting a woman make all my life decisions, and decide what we have for dinner.

That said, I’ve been going to some NYC bars lately and just being appalled at the lack of knowledge among bartenders. How do you hire a bartender, and pay as such, a person who knows how to pour beer and make rum and coke? Also, I’ve been noticing a lot of bars simply don’t have bitters. So, I order an old-fashioned, get asked what’s in it, then told “we don’t have bitters.” Just the other day, ordering a martini, I was asked if I want vodka or gin (ok, but if I wanted vodka, I’d order that), if I want vermouth in it (is that not standard?), if the vermouth should be sweet or dry, if I want an olive, and my favorite “does anything else go into that?” By the way, I’ve found you should never explain to a bartender what’s in a drink – if they don’t already know, they won’t make it right.

56 Jack October 13, 2012 at 3:47 pm

Pretty expensive but really cool cocktail shaker….


57 DarrylX October 26, 2012 at 9:13 am

My dad and uncles always said: scotch, bourbon, rum, beer, water in that order. Any other drink is for Frenchmen and/or homosexuals.

58 Biffington May 7, 2013 at 12:50 am

Back when I was in college we came up with a martini variant named after our dormitory. None of use had the necessary accoutrements for a proper martini, so we made do with what we had.

The recipe called for 2 large shotg lasses of very chilled gin, 1 smaller shot glass of vermouth that was left a bit close to a radiator and 2 olives on a machine screw and mixed in a sippy cup filled with ice.

Needless to say, those of us with the sense to abandoned the recipe quickly.

59 RickDeckard June 1, 2013 at 11:56 am

Old fashioned are extremely overrated. Mixing sugar in a drink is a sure way to have the dregs be horrible. Simple syrup should always be used over sugar so that it mixes properly. Likewise, just adding water to a spirit and mixing in a some fruit does not make a satisfying cocktail experience vs something like a manhattan or jack rose.

60 Thom June 1, 2013 at 11:59 am

Isn’t a martini with a twist instead of an olive a Montgomery?

61 Gabriel June 1, 2013 at 12:09 pm

One of the best drinks to do for the ladies is Caipirinha. You can do with Vodka

62 Mike June 1, 2013 at 12:37 pm

So, would a “Stalin” be a Vodka martini with no Vermouth? What would a “Roosevelt” be?

63 Steve June 1, 2013 at 12:43 pm

Love to see the author’s take on the Rusty Nail–scotch and drambuie as I used to make and drink it. Also, I agree that the “Stump the Bartender” antics and pedantry about the precise ingredients should be stowed. As a college town bartender in the Seventies, I tired of that quickly.

64 Aaron June 1, 2013 at 1:41 pm

garnish however you like, but soda water has no place in a true old fashioned.

otherwise, some pretty solid work here.

65 sue80 June 1, 2013 at 1:50 pm

My all time favorite is the Vodka Collins.

66 Pensive Cartographer June 1, 2013 at 6:35 pm

My two favorite cocktails made the list! (the Manhattan and the Martini) — and my current favorite economy-minded rye, Old Overholt, to boot! Well done, AoM. (Angels Envy is good too, and Bulleit…I guess I have yet to settle on only one favorite. So many to try.)

67 MorganGray June 1, 2013 at 6:57 pm

Thad, I agree. But, a good mint julep is kinda hard to get exactly right.
The best one i ever had was at a Civil War event, and a sergeant with Wheat’s Brigade was serving them out. I guess he figured he could give me one, even though I’m a Yankee. A guitar really smooths the way between blue and gray.
And, the picture accompanying the Manhattan gives me a chuckle. Old Overholt Rye whiskey was originally distilled about 30 minutes from my back door.

68 Phil June 1, 2013 at 7:03 pm

Change the soda water to water, and leave out the fruit salad in the Old Fashioned (a twist of lemon is all that is needed). Also, drinks make with hard to combine ingredients like egg whites (for example- the Ramos Gin Fizz) need to be shaken. Possibly fruit juice based drinks. You stir easily combined gin and vermouth. Shaking a martini is a ridiculous waste of effort. Otherwise, a good start on the subject in my opinion.

69 Pfarthing6 June 2, 2013 at 3:06 am

Great article. I love the fact that you knew a Martini is traditionally made with gin and a “vodka martini” is he variation. Almost no matter where I go, the keeps assume vodka.

The Manhattan and when I can get it, Sazerac, are my staples.

Going to have to try a Tom Collins. I think my mom drank those and I’ve never had one!

70 Brennan June 4, 2013 at 2:31 pm

A Sazerac or Willett rye Old Fashioned is a thing of beauty.
For a nice slight twist on the classic martini, try a jalapeno stuffed olive with a high botanical gin like Sapphire or Junipero. You taste in order: cold, gin, botanicals, vermouth, olive, heat. Then you repeat.

71 jimmyp June 9, 2013 at 5:21 am

I know its not a traditional cocktail but it is very nice – a negroni. Equal parts gin, campari and vermouth rosso. Over ice with a slice of o.range peel. Very nice. Bond orders one with .Gordon’s in risico.

72 Liana November 19, 2013 at 10:28 pm

You forgot my favorite the Negroni – 1 part gin- 1 part Camapri – 1 part sweet vermouth on the rocks with an orange slice.

73 John Collins November 20, 2013 at 9:41 am

You forgot one of the best classics.
The Daquiri.
True Daquiri’s did NOT begin life as a slurpee. A true rum connoisseur would enjoy this drink.

74 jackie November 20, 2013 at 1:03 pm

hey im going campin with mike lol I love egg nog but cant seem to drink but two what can I mix with it to drink as and evening drink

75 Bob the Eternal Flame November 30, 2013 at 4:57 pm

I used to drink fancy cocktails (sometimes with 4-5 or even more ingredients!), and do all the “Trendy Shooters” back in my early days of drinking as a fresh faced newbie to the culture…

As I’ve aged, though, I’ve found my true tastes are somewhat simpler-a Brandy Alexander after a meal (always made with either VSOP or XO brandy, depends on what my local store has on hand) always warms the body, a Rum and Coke is nice if you’re just having an evening out with the mates…

But really, nothing beats a GOOD whiskey (Glenlivet or Jameson are what I drink) on the rocks. Nothing like it. Have it with a mid-to-high end cigar, and you’re in for a REAL treat. The flavor, the feel…

That’s the way I spend my Monday Nights, after putting a few hours of practice with the band in. Nothing like it. Nothing on earth.

76 Clement January 9, 2014 at 11:55 am

Definitely the Old Fashioned and twisted with lime if we talk about cocktails also champagne toped cocktails are quite good like in a shaker put real blackberrys and violette liquor with vodka, shake everything and half top with champagne in a cup of champagne…Fancy! also I really love ginger based cocktails…

77 john February 5, 2014 at 9:47 pm

The old fashioned is my standard drink of choice which I use Jamison in. Second is Bombay gin & ginger beer, third is long lsland ice tea, & recently fireball whiskey with RumChata on the rocks. Of course shots are great too. The best nightcap of all is a good brandy!

78 Mike Hignite February 7, 2014 at 9:39 am

For a refreshing summer drink, try a Pesh.

2 parts sweet vermouth
3 parts Canada Dry ginger ale

Stir over ice. Add orange slice.

79 C J Parker March 31, 2014 at 11:47 pm

Many years ago I was invited to a dinner where Charles Tandy of Radio Shack fame was the guest of honor. Tandy was a big impressive Texan kind of guy. Sharp, no nonsense and always on the lookout for a new idea. I was twenty, eager to make a favorable impression. Before dinner: drinks. It was Bourbon and branch for Tandy. I ordered a Tom Collins. When the drinks arrived mine had an umbrella in it. So, yeah, know about a Tom Collins. Order it for your date.

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