Classic Cocktails Making a Comeback

file0001530747196The classic cocktails of the 1950s are making a comeback. Some believe the impact of the hit TV show Mad Men is the force behind it, in much the same way that Sex and the City created the Cosmopolitan boom in bars and clubs across the country a decade or more ago.

Although some cocktail experts view the 1950s as the Dark Ages of potent potables with mass-produced vodka and powdered mixes replacing fresh ingredients, many trendy restaurants and bars are looking back to this era for mixology inspiration, according The Wall Street Journal article, “The 1950s Cocktail Boom.”

Classic Cocktails with a Twist

In New York, according to the WSJ article, Eben Freeman, “elder statesman of Gotham’s haute mixology world,” is applying advanced techniques creating huge demand for old favorites like the Grasshopper and Old-fashioned. Thomas Waugh, another New York top bartender has applied the same thinking with updated versions of the Stinger and Mai Tai.

While thousands of cocktails and concoctions have been created over the years, only a few have truly stood the test of time. With life imitating art, in the case of Mad Men regenerating greater interest in classic cocktails, you’d better have your bartenders ready to serve up these standards (as shared at Nightclub & Bar):

Old-fashioned: Appropriately named for this resurgence in classic cocktails, the Old-fashioned combines bourbon, bitters, water and sugar.

Tom Collins: Gin, lemon juice, sugar and carbonated water are the ingredients of this classic favorite with variations like the Joan Collins (substitute whiskey for gin) and a Marimba Collins (using rum as the primary ingredient).

Sidecar: This combination of cognac, Cointreau and lemon juice dates back to the end of World War I.

Gimlet: Simple classic cocktail using gin and lime juice.

Manhattan: A classic that has never really slipped away but is gaining recognition with younger bar patrons, made with whiskey, sweet vermouth and bitters.

Dirty Martini: A splash of olive juice or brine turns a standard martini (gin, dry vermouth, olives) into a dirty one.

Old-fashioned Recipe

According to Esquire, the Old-fashioned is Mad Men’s favorite, and here’s their recipe for this classic cocktail:


  •     1 sugar cube
  •     3 dashes Angostura bitters
  •     club soda
  •     2 ounces rye whisky

Glass Type: old-fashioned glass


Place the sugar cube (or 1/2 teaspoon loose sugar) in an Old-Fashioned glass. Wet it down with 2 or 3 dashes of Angostura bitters and a short splash of water or club soda. Crush the sugar with a wooden muddler, chopstick, strong spoon, lipstick, cartridge case, whatever. Rotate the glass so that the sugar grains and bitters give it a lining. Add a large ice cube. Pour in the rye (or bourbon). Serve with a stirring rod.

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