As any connoisseur of alcohol will tell you, one of the greatest joys of life is discovering new cocktails. Whatever the occasion – celebrating an achievement or bracing oneself up for some tough times ahead – a well-made cocktail is your perfect companion. Cocktails are also a good conversation starter at home parties. But for a New Year party you don’t want to stress out by experimenting on friends and relatives. Stick to the basic cocktails, which have fewer ingredients and are easy to make. Each of these classic cocktails fits that description, and that is perhaps the reason why they have survived over the decades.
According to an apocryphal story, the drink was first made for Lady Randolph Churchill, Winston Churchill’s mother, at the Manhattan Club in the 1870’s. But the fact remains that it was one of the five cocktails named after the different parts of New York City (Brooklyn, Bronx, Manhattan, Queen’s and the Staten Island cocktail).
It has only three ingredients but a Manhattan’s flavour is full of pleasant complexities. In a mixing glass or cocktail shaker filled with ice, combine three parts whiskey with one part of vermouth. Add a dash of Angostura bitters and stir well, for about 20 seconds, then strain into a cocktail glass. Add cherry or twist lemon peel directly over the drink, and serve.
Cocktail historians – yes, there is such a breed – have discovered the recipe for a gin-based drink called the Cosmopolitan that dates back to the early 1900s. But the cocktail as it is generally known today has been around for not much more than a couple of decades. The credit for creating it goes to bartender Cheryl Cook came up with the original formula in 1985 when she worked at a bar called The Strand in Miami’s South Beach.
Here’s how you can make one easily: fill a shaker with ice and add three parts vodka, two parts cranberry juice and one part lime juice. Shake until the shaker begins to feel cold from the outside. Strain the liquid into a martini glass. Garnish the concoction with a twist of lime peel.
As it often happens with such things, the exact history of the origin of this cocktail is a bit hazy in the mist of time. But one of the first mentions is made of the year 1926, when Fernand Petiot, an American bartender at Harry's New York Bar in Paris mixed equal parts tomato juice and vodka. According to Petiot’s biographer the drink was called Bloody Mary because it reminded him of the Bucket of Blood Club in Chicago - and there worked a girl named Mary.
To make Bloody Mary, mix three parts tomato juice and one part lemon juice in a blender. Add a bit of salt, few drops of Worcestershire and Tabasco before blending the mix till it becomes smooth. Then add a bit of celery and black pepper. Refrigerate till it is fully chilled. Fill the glass with ice and add three parts vodka to it. Stir well and you have Bloody Mary.
Mojito (pronounced mo-HEE-toe), one of Cuba’s oldest cocktails, comes from the African word mojo, which means to place a little spell. Its roots can be traced to 1586, when Francis Drake and his pirates tried to sack Havana for its gold. The invasion was unsuccessful but Drake’s associate, Richard Drake, was said to have invented a Mojito like cocktail known as El Draque made with aguardiente (a crude forerunner of rum), sugar, lime and mint. Initially it was consumed only for medicinal purposes.
For a modern version of the Mojito, add three parts of white rum, two parts of freshly squeezed lime juice, two teaspoon sugar and six leaves of mint to a shaker. Shake it vigorously and strain into a tall glass over lots of ice. Add a splash of soda. Garnish with mint sprigs and serve.
One of the most popular cocktails in the world, the Screwdriver’s history can be traced back to the 1950s. Workers on oil rigs in the Persian Gulf would work incredibly long and dangerous hours and often relieved the tedium with alcohol. Some of them poured orange juice and vodka into cans while working on the rigs. The name came from the workers using a screwdriver to stir their secret alcoholic elixir.
Make your own screwdriver by filling a tall glass with ice cubes. Add two shots of vodka into the glass. Top it off with four shots of orange juice. Stir the ingredients well. Garnish with an orange slice.