CityScope® magazine Southern Gentleman® – Five Classic Cocktails & Their Twists
Traditions of the Tipple
By Julia Sharp Photography by Emily Long
Although the word “cocktail” wasn’t formally used until the early 1800s, people have been crafting drinks from a variety of spirits, fruit, spices, and more for centuries. These five classic cocktails, each with a storied past, have survived the test of time to remain popular today, but each can be adapted to suit personal tastes. Local restaurants graciously prepared the following adaptations to illustrate these unique twists.
Rum is the world’s most varied spirit, and while it primarily hails from the Caribbean, it’s made in many countries around the world. Each region typically has its own production methods which create a great deal of variety and personality between one rum and the next.
While the true origins of rum have never been found, evidence points to it being made first in Barbados in the early 17th century. The Daiquiri, a classic rum cocktail, also lacks a verified origin story. However, the most popular theory involves Jennings Cox, an American mining engineer who worked in Cuba during the Spanish-American War. During a dinner party with American guests, Cox was said to have run out of gin. Rather than leave his guests without drinks for the night, he decided to offer them locally produced rum. He added lime juice and sugar to improve the flavor for his guests, who were used to sweeter drinks.
The drink became popular in Cuba, but it didn’t reach mass appeal until 1909 when Admiral Lucius W. Johnson, a U.S. Navy medical officer, tried the drink and loved it so much that he introduced it to his friends at the Army and Navy Club once he was back in Washington, D.C.
The Hemingway Daiquiri
Ernest Hemingway was known to frequent bars in Cuba during the 1920s, and one of his most frequent haunts was called the El Floridita. The bar was tended by Constantino Ribalaigua Vert, a man known for his flamboyance, artistry, and precision. He had made several successful variations of the daiquiri, but Hemingway would make one of his creations famous around the world. The story is that Hemingway tried a daiquiri at the bar one day and asked Vert to make it “without sugar and double the rum.” Because this strong drink has quite a bite to it, it was later adapted to be more palatable.
2 oz. white rum
1/2 oz. maraschino liqueur
3/4 oz. grapefruit juice
1/2 oz. lime juice
1/4 oz. simple syrup (or to taste)
Combine all ingredients in a shaker tin with ice. Shake for 10 seconds. Double strain into a small coupe.
Gin is one of the most common spirits used in craft cocktails because it carries so many unique natural flavors and can appeal to a variety of tastes. Many fans of gin enjoy a Negroni, which is equal parts gin, sweet vermouth, and Campari, finished with a fresh orange peel.
This ruby-red cocktail was created in the 1920s at Bar Casoni in Florence, Italy, after Count Camillo Negroni, a wealthy and colorful aristocrat, ordered an Americano (sweet vermouth, Campari, and club soda) with gin in place of the soda. This sparked a wave of visitors clamoring for a “Negroni,” and the drink has since soared to the top of cocktail menus at prominent restaurants around the globe.
The Spicy Negroni
For those who can take the heat, this twist on a classic Negroni is sure to become a signature statement. The addition of mezcal, ancho chile liqueur, and mole bitters creates a smoky, complex cocktail that’s a perfect blend of Italy and Mexico’s passion for flavors.
3⁄4 oz. gin
3⁄4 oz. mezcal
3⁄4 oz. Campari
3⁄4 oz. sweet vermouth
1⁄2 oz. ancho chile liqueur
2 dashes mole bitters (mole is a highly complex sauce made from nuts, bread, chiles, fruit, cinnamon, spices, chocolate, and more)
Orange slice for garnish
Add all ingredients to a mixing glass and fill with ice. Stir, then strain into a rocks glass over fresh ice. Garnish with orange slice.
The first written documentation of the word “cocktail” was in a New York newspaper in 1806 and referred to a drink that mixed spirits, bitters, water, and sugar. There were many variations of this “cocktail” over time, but by the 1860s, it had evolved into being made primarily with whiskey.
There’s speculation, but several sources point to the first Old Fashioned cocktail, made with bourbon, being served in the 1880s at a gentlemen’s club in Kentucky. It was prepared in honor of a well-known bourbon distiller, Colonel James E. Pepper, and he brought it to the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel bar in New York City where it became a symbol of gentlemanly drinking.
Irish Old Fashioned
Swap Irish whiskey for bourbon in this fresh take on an Old Fashioned. Adding Bénédictine, an herbal French liqueur first made in 1510, makes the drink even sweeter and more complex with its 27 herbs, fruit, and spices.
2 oz. Irish whiskey
3/4 oz. Bénédictine
2 dashes Angostura bitters
2 dashes orange bitters
Orange peel to garnish
Add all ingredients to a mixing glass and fill with ice. Stir, and strain into a rocks glass filled with fresh ice. Garnish with an orange peel.
Mulled wine was first recorded in the second century, although its true origin may be even earlier than that. Roman soldiers would heat their wine over the fire on cold days to help keep warm, and they brought this tradition to many countries as the Roman Empire grew. It became especially popular in colder regions like England, Scotland, and Sweden, where people would create their own unique versions by adding winter fruits or spices.
In the 1890s, it became associated with Christmas festivities, and savvy merchants often put illustrations of Santa Claus on bottles of mulled wine to entice buyers during the holiday season. Although recipes can vary greatly by region, the drink is most commonly made with a sweet red wine, port, citrus fruit, and spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, and star anise seed.
Orange Chai Mulled Wine
Impress guests at holiday parties with this unique take on a traditional wine cocktail. The chai flavor comes from the cardamom, which adds extra warmth along with fresh cinnamon and spicy ginger.
1 bottle red wine
1/4 cup honey
2 cinnamon sticks
2 clementine oranges, peeled, juiced, and cut into small pieces
6 whole cloves
12 cardamom pods
1 tsp. freshly grated ginger
Add all ingredients to a pot and simmer over low heat for 15 minutes. Do not bring to a boil. Remove from heat and let sit 10 to 15 minutes before serving, as this helps the flavors grow stronger.
In the United States, vodka was outshined by beer and whiskey for decades. Americans even joked that the word vodka meant “horrible” in Russian. However, one classic cocktail is credited with helping to spur vodka’s rise in popularity among American drinkers –
the Moscow Mule.
This drink was originally created to make use of products that owners wanted to get rid of, but it ended up being one of the most glamorous drinks of the 1940s. The three products were Smirnoff vodka, ginger beer, and copper mugs.
In 1939, John Martin bought the U.S. rights to the French Smirnoff vodka brand and was having trouble selling it to stateside retailers. He visited a number of bars in Los Angeles, trying to make a sale, and finally met two people with a similar problem at a British-themed pub called the Cock ‘n’ Bull. Pub owner Jack Morgan had a basement full of ginger beer nobody wanted, and Russian immigrant and copper heiress Sophie Berezinski had 2,000 solid copper mugs that she and her father hadn’t been able to sell. They decided to combine all three items and name this drink the Moscow Mule because the ginger had a bit of a kick to it. The first cocktail was reportedly served to Broderick Crawford, a well-known Hollywood actor, and it was said to have “caught on like wildfire” from there.
Brown Sugar & Roasted Pineapple Moscow Mule
This twist on a Moscow Mule has brown sugar and pineapple to offset the spicy kick of ginger beer. Roasting the pineapple brings out even more sweetness and makes a gorgeous garnish as well.
1 whole pineapple
1/4 cup brown sugar (use more if necessary)
3-4 mint leaves
2 oz. vodka
1 oz. pineapple juice
Juice of 1 lime
2-3 oz. ginger beer
Garnish: mint sprig, lime wedges, roasted pineapple wedges
To Roast the Pineapple:
Preheat oven to 450° F.
Peel, core, quarter, and slice pineapple into 1/2-inch wedges. Place the pineapple on a baking sheet and sprinkle with half the brown sugar. Roast for 10 minutes. Remove pineapple from oven, turn the pieces over, and sprinkle with the rest of the brown sugar. Roast for another 10 minutes. Remove from the oven and the baking sheet and let cool completely on waxed paper. Dice half of the pineapple wedges and leave the other half for a garnish.
To Make the Cocktail:
Combine the diced, roasted pineapple and mint leaves in the bottom of a cocktail shaker and muddle. Add the vodka, pineapple juice, and juice of one lime, then stir. Fill the shaker with ice and shake until cold. Fill two glasses with ice, and strain over the ice. Top with the ginger beer, stir gently, and garnish with a sprig of mint, slice of lime, and a wedge of roasted pineapple.