What a gentleman chooses to drink says something about his personality. Does he enjoy harsh or sweet alcohols? Does he enjoy his whiskey on the rocks, with a splash of water, or neat? What price is he willing to pay for this luxury good?
To make matters even more interesting, there are decisions surrounding mixed drinks that come up. Does he prefer drinks that highlight the liquor, or ones that hide it? Does he like something that you can quaff (and have 5 more), or something he can sip on all night?
Regardless of how you answer these questions, below you will find a list, and recipes, for 4 drinks that I believe every gentleman should be able to craft.*
The Old Fashioned
Unanimously the favored drink of the gentlemen of The Distinguished Society of Fine Gentlemen. There is no quicker way to make an evening more classy than the addition of this libation. If this drink was a man he’d be the working man; sleeves rolled up, sweat on his brow, tired from the day’s work, relaxing on his front porch, taking in the last of the brilliant sun.
Lowball or Rocks glass
1 Sugar Cube
Dash of Water
3-5 Dashes Angostura Bitters
3 oz Bourbon
1 Maraschino Cherries (to garnish if you so desire)
1 Slice of Orange (to garnish if you so desire)
Place a sugar cube in the bottom of the glass. Add a dash of water onto the sugar cube; this allows the sugar to dissolve. Add bitters to the mixture. Crush the sugar cube with a muddler or wooden spoon and lightly mix the ingredients in the glass. Add ice, one solid rounded cube is best. Pour bourbon (I prefer bourbon but rye whiskey also works well) over the ice. Serve with a mixing straw and a maraschino cherry and/or orange peel twist garnish if you prefer it.
The above recipe is the purist version. I will often muddle a maraschino cherry and/or an orange slice into the sugar, water, and bitters mixture. Some people find this revolting but I enjoy the extra flavors. If you do this make sure to get as much out of the orange peel as possible, it adds a certain bitter spicy flavor to the drink.
Very similar to the Old Fashioned, this drink is the rich cousin who has just finished a day of trading high value stocks. It is a simultaneous toast to the successes (sweet) and the failures (bitter) of the day.
Stemmed cocktail glass (pre-chilled)
2 oz Rye Whiskey
1 oz Sweet Vermouth
2 dashes Angostura Bitters
Maraschino cherry or orange peel twist to garnish (if you so desire)
Chill glass by filling with ice and then pouring club soda over the ice. Before using the glass, dump the ice and soda water out of the glass and shake once or twice to remove excess water. Or if space permits you can simply place the glass in the freezer to chill it.
Fill a mixing vessel (could be a lowball glass, a boston shaker, or liquid measuring cup) with ice and pour all three liquors into the vessel and stir them (you can also shake to mix if you prefer). Strain the liquor from the mixing vessel into the chilled glass. Serve.
If you so desire you can add garnish to the drink before serving it.
The Mint Julep
This is THE drink of the Kentucky Derby. It’s the classy man’s mint mojito. This drink is the uncle constantly offering you deals you can’t refuse. There is a great scene in the movie, “Thank You For Smoking” where the owner of a large tobacco company gives the protagonist a tip on how to make the perfect Julep. The old businessman then proceeds to mention that he got the tip from none other than Fidel Castro!
Hailing from the south, there is a certain grit to this libation. This one is wild, you might lose it all on the favored horse or you might go down in a firefight but you are going to look damn good while you do it!
Lowball, Rocks, or Julep Glass (prechilled and dry)
Fresh Mint Leaves
1 Teaspoon Sugar
3 oz Bourbon
Place 5 or 6 fresh mint leaves into the bottom of your glass (use the smallest leaves for best results). Place the sugar on top of the leaves and crush slightly with a muddler or wooden spoon. Fill the glass with crushed ice. Pour the bourbon over the ice and stir until the glass frosts. Fill with ice, stir, and garnish with a couple mint leaves before serving.
If you want more mint flavor you can make a concentrate by placing 10(ish) mint leaves in a glass and coating with sugar. Cover the leaves and sugar with 1 oz of water and let sit for 10-15 minutes. Strain this mixture into an ice filled glass and then proceed from the addition of bourbon above.
Lime and Tonic
Partaking in an alcoholic drink is not always necessary. Given your company it may even be inappropriate to drink alcohol. To this end the very simple but very delicious Lime and Tonic comes into play. This is my summer drink of choice, perfect for any sunny day. And I must confess my favorite part is the way this drink causes its glass to sweat! There is something magnificent about sweaty glass, I can’t truly describe it but for some reason it enhances the refreshment of the drink.
Highball or Collins Glass
¼ – ½ Medium Sized Lime
Tonic to fill
Fill cup with ice. Squeeze lime over ice. Fill cup with tonic water. Place lime rinds in drink as a garnish.
If you simply must add alcohol to this already wonderful drink, they say that Gin is the way to go (I personally can’t stand the stuff, I prefer Christmas trees as decorations over air fresheners). Pour 1.5 oz Gin over the ice before adding the tonic.
*Please note that I have tried to use rather basic recipes for these libation staples; everyone has their favorite recipe or how they think it is best. Please craft your cocktails in whatever manner you find most pleasing. But for the newcomer, and sometimes the veteran, simplicity is king. If you have a recipe you think is the cat’s tits, please comment below.
Crafting cocktails should be an enjoyable and fun experience. It should allow you to more fully engage and enjoy the moment you are in, and the people you are sharing it with. My hope is that, equipped with these simple recipes, you will be able to add a bit of historic and traditional class to your next social gathering or quiet moment alone.