Any self-respecting home bartender should have a mental spreadsheet of favorite classic cocktail recipes. Even if these aren’t fully memorized, you should be able to find the recipe in your home library at quick notice to serve them to your friends.
Cocktails have moved beyond pina coladas with an umbrella and glacé cherry garnish. Most discerning drinkers now know their mojitos from their margaritas – but they may not know how to make them at home.
As money is likely to be tight this Holiday, I wanted to find out how to mix my favorite cocktails in the comfort of my own home. To do this I use the Boston’s Guide, PDF below.
25 Essential Cocktails
The origins of the word “cocktail” are lost to history, but the first definition we find in print comes from an 1806 newspaper from upstate New York. A cocktail is called “a stimulating liquor, composed of spirits of any kind, sugar, water, and bitters…” Over the course of the 19th century, the cocktail picked up a number of additions and refinements: liqueurs, fortified wines, various bits of garnish, et cetera. Eventually, some drinkers came to prefer a simpler form of cocktail, the type their grandfathers might have enjoyed, and so they’d ask the bartender to make them an “old-fashioned” cocktail, of booze, sugar muddled into water to form a syrup, and bitters.
- 50 ml rum or whisky, depending on preference
- 2 teaspoons of caster sugar other sugar or gomme syrup is also fine
- 4 mint sprigs
- Crushed ice
- Soda water optional
Add the mint sprigs, caster sugar and a couple of tablespoons of crushed ice. Begin 'massaging' the mix together with a spoon. The caster sugar helps to bring out the flavour of the mint. Breaking or crushing the mint makes the taste sour, hence the need to gently fold and stir. Add 25ml of rum, more crushed ice and continue 'massaging'. Fill with ice, pour in the second 25ml shot of rum and add a dash of soda, if desired.
Serve in tall glass or tumbler.
- 50 ml good-quality gin or vodka, depending on martini preference
- 25 ml dry vermouth
- Crushed ice
- Ice cubes
Fill a cocktail glass with ice and leave to one side. Fill a large glass with crushed ice and water/soda water. This is to help make the glass as cold as possible. Once the glass is very cold to the touch, discard the ice and water. Pour the gin (or vodka) and vermouth into the glass and fill with ice cubes. Slowly stir until the ice dilutes the drink to your taste. Discard the ice from the cocktail glass and strain in the drink, adding your choice of garnish: fruit zest, cherry, caper berry, olive ... Martinis taste best when cold, so should be polished off within 7-10 minutes.
Serve in cocktail glass.