Retro has never been so hot. The popularity of the TV show Mad Men is soaring, speakeasy cocktail bars are popping up all over the country and form-fitting ’50s fashion is suddenly everywhere. But you don’t actually have to go out to enjoy a retro cocktail; try the following five cocktail recipes at home. If you don’t have a cocktail shaker, just improvise with a large glass or kitchen jar.
Kick back and relax in vintage style, sip your snazzy cocktail and imagine what life was like before we were all so connected, mediated and plugged in every moment of our lives.
1. Tom Collins: Have you seen Tom Collins? In 1874, the Great Tom Collins Hoax was sweeping the States as cheeky cocktail drinkers inspired unsuspecting friends to search for a character that didn’t exist. The game is over but the cocktail remains, and a Tom Collins is one of the easiest drinks to make. Simply add to a shaker filled with ice: 2 ounces gin (such as Tanqueray London Dry), 1 ounce lemon juice and 1 teaspoon superfine sugar. Shake well and strain into a Tom Collins aka highball glass. Top with 3 ounces club soda, stir, and garnish with a cherry and orange slice.
2. Sidecar: Invented for a sick American army captain who had a penchant for riding around town in the sidecar of a motorcycle, this World War I-era cocktail blends body-warming liquors with vitamin C-rich citrus juice for a stout wake-me-up. Prep by rubbing the rim of a chilled martini glass with lemon juice, then dipping it in sugar. Next blend ¾ ounce of Cointreau, ¾ ounce lemon juice and 1 ½ ounces cognac into a shaker filled with ice. Shake and then strain into the prepared glass; garnish with a twist of lemon rind. Feel better?
3. Hot Toddy: A cold-weather cocktail invented in Scotland in the early 1700s, the hot toddy was retro two centuries ago. Use your favorite whiskey or brandy for this easy drink, perfect for a chilly spring evening. Put a cup of water on to boil, then coat the bottom of an Irish whiskey glass (or coffee mug) with honey. Add 1 ounce of liquor to your glass, along with the juice of a quarter lemon. When the water boils, fill up your glass. Garnish with a lemon wheel and enjoy. You can also add a bag of black tea to the mix if you need a caffeine and/or flavor boost with your cocktail.
4. Manhattan: An American classic for the sophisticated drinker, the Manhattan cocktail was invented in New York City some time in the second half of the 1800s. In a mixing glass, combine ¾ ounce sweet vermouth, 2 ½ ounces of bourbon, a dash of Angostura bitters and 3 cubes of ice. Stir gently – never shake. Place a maraschino cherry in a chilled martini glass, then slowly strain the mixture over it. Rub an orange peel over the rim of the glass for flavor, but don’t drop it in. Savor in a penthouse suite overlooking the Big Apple, or your living room.
5. Gimlet: This lime juice and gin cocktail supposedly came into being in the early 20th century at the orders of a naval surgeon, who recommended it to sailors as protection against scurvy. First coat the rim of a chilled martini glass in sugar. Next, fill a shaker halfway with ice, then add 1 ¼ ounces of dry gin and 1 ounce fresh lime juice. Stir well (you never shake gin) and strain into the prepared glass; garnish with a twist of lime. Drink too many and you’ll be singing sea shanties. Don’t like gin? Try vodka instead.
Image: Kirti Poddar