Classic Cocktails To Teach Your Bartender

By scotrace · Jul 10, 2018 · ·
Article Format:
Article View
  1. scotrace
    By Scott Daniels

    It depends on the place, but I normally stick with a martini as the usual thing to have before dinner at a restaurant. It's such an absolute standard, with a history stretching back nearly a century, that ordering a martini should be as simple as speaking the word.

    "Martini, please."
    What your server brings back should then be a cocktail of gin and dry vermouth stirred with ice and poured into a funnel shaped, stemmed glass with a garnish of a plump olive or two on a stick. Saying "martini, please" has only worked for me once: at a place which labeled itself a "speakeasy" in Manhattan. The bartender mixed up the proper drink, and served a bit of it in a glass while the rest of it went into a mini carafe nestled into a bed of ice. Nicely done, sir.

    Rather elaborate martini setup, but well made.

    But it's the 21st century, a golden age of cocktail creation and bartender creativity. It is now common to find a full "martini menu" in most places, and having such a selection is a point of pride for extablishments who offer them.
    There are espresso martinis, pomegranate martinis, martinis made with variously flavored vodkas or, at times, tequila. You can try pineapple martinis, appletinis, the usual cosmopolitan variation...
    So looking at your server and asking "martini, please," will bring a blank look and the feeling of being a hopelessly un-savvy drinker.
    And so, I've taken to being quite specific, with a ready speech:
    "I'd like a gin martini with whatever gin you normally use, up, olive, NOT dirty."
    You have to add the last bit as so many people ask for a dribble of olive juice in their drink that it has pretty much become the norm.

    Amid all this really remarkable cocktail creativity, asking for one of the old-school, standard drinks means you may very well be asking for something the bartender has never made. A 7-ingredient tropical concoction, sure. A Bloody Mary with enough garnishes to pass for lunch, certainly. But as I found one late night at a bar in a fair sized southern U.S. city, asking for a manhattan may just bring your server back to the table a few times for clarification.

    Aside from the classic martini, here are a couple of cocktails which may not appear on the menu at your favorite watering hole, but are worth knowing about and perhaps sharing with a bartender not in-the-know.

    A favorite among members of The Fedora Lounge is the Sidecar. The origins have something to do with a fellow who had been riding in a motorcycle sidecar who wanted something to warm him up. The brandy mixture did the trick.

    2 ounces Brandy (cognac)
    1 ounce Cointreau
    1/2 ounce lemon juice
    Shake with ice. Strain into cocktail glass.

    Enjoying a resurgence of popularity, along with the great bourbon/whiskey/rye boom, is the Old Fashioned. The story goes that, once Harry and Bess Truman had moved into the White House, they ordered Old Fashions from the house bartender. Drinks were made and sent up, and Mrs. truman repeatedly sent them back with a note: "Too sweet." Finally, the exasperated bartender sent up straight bourbon over ice, which saw the return of an empty tray and the note: "Now THAT is how we like our Old fashioned!"

    Old Fashioned
    2 ounces Bourbon or rye
    3 dashes angostura bitters
    1 sugar cube (or 1/2 teaspoon sugar)
    Dash club soda

    Place the sugar cube in the bottom of an old fashioned glass and hit it with the bitters. Add a small bit of club soda and mash it all together. Swirl the glass a bit to coat the inside, add a single large ice cube, and pour in the bourbon or rye. Stir well.

    And of course, the Manhattan. We like ours over ice, but take it up if we trust the person making them.
    2 parts bourbon or rye
    1 part sweet vermouth
    dash bitters
    Maraschino cherry.

    In an old fashioned glass, pour the liquids over the ice, and add the cherry. Stir well.

    Share This Article

    About Author

    Aside from helping manage things around The Fedora Lounge, I'm a freelance writer and award winning food columnist. The foodie Insta is @weatewellandcheaply.


To make a comment simply sign up and become a member!
  1. rosscoinc1
    Darn it...No I can hardly wait for the weekend!
    1. maxwellcook607
      This article is well written and very informative. I really like this site because it offers loads of information to its followers.
      scotrace likes this.
    2. chaparrito
      Just curious what the weekend has to do with a good cocktail?? Is Monday breakfast bad form?
  2. Zemke Fan
    Well, I will rise to the challenge, dear friend!

    Here is the proper way to make a martini...
    1) Take a baseball bat and SMASH all of the bottles of vodka.
    2) Add ice to a funnel-shaped glass.
    3) Pickup your best bottle of dry vermouth.
    4) Wave the vermouth (unopened, unpoured) over the funnel-shaped glass.
    5) Put the vermouth back on the shelf to gather more dust.
    6) Pickup the Hendricks Gin bottle.
    7) Pour into vintage metal shaker filled with ice.
    8) Shake. Pour. Garnish. (Three olives minimum.)
    9) Consume. Repeat. Nap. Consume. Repeat.
    1. scotrace
      You understand, yes. That's the way to do it.
    2. Bird Lives
      Ha,ha...There was an old movie where Gig Young was showing someone how to mix a martini. I remember he put some ice in a pitcher and shook a bootle of vermouth, pulled out the cork and very lightly rubbed the cork around the top of the pitcher and recorked the vermouth and then poured the bottle of Gin into the pitcher and!

      Does anybody remember which film that this is from?
    3. MissMittens
      LOL!!!!! A martini with vodka just really isn't a martini
      scotrace likes this.
  3. Cornelius
    I’ll share mine here as well - which, I shall credit from the start, is heavily indebted to the author James Salter. Obviously folks are welcome to make their Martini however they prefer, but over the years I’ve come to be quite specific about mine; it’s gotten to the point where the only bartender I trust to make them properly is yours truly. As a rule, I am strictly averse to name-dropping Brands but I am afraid, in this case, there’s no way around it. I’ve tried substitutes to those below & the end result has always been lessened. Anyway, here are your thirteen steps:
  4. Cornelius
    1) Hunt around secondhand stores in your area for a couple of classic cocktail glasses (inverted cone upon a stem, holding about 5oz/150ml) made of LEADED glass. This is not merely an aesthetic point (though the glass is beautiful) - it honestly seems to hold the cold more sharply & for a longer time than glass of our era. The manufacture of leaded glass is essentially no longer allowed due to the toxicity of the process so you must source from the material record. Wash the glass thoroughly & place in your freezer.

    2) Find a reliable source of proper olives. Likely a deli or small grocery run by Palestinian, Greek or Turkish immigrants/their descendants, depending on the nature of your domicile & its place in the past century or two of world history. Buy more Kalamatas than you think necessary. And a pound of feta while you’re at it, why not?

    3) Place a fifth of Tanqueray in the freezer.

    4) Place a 375ml bottle of Noilly Prat Extra Dry Vermouth in your refrigerator (always acquire vermouth in smaller bottles as it begins to expire the moment it is opened).

    5) Wait a minimum of 24 hours. This cannot be emphasized enough, especially for the gin; honestly, it’s what makes the recipe. I’ve done taste-tests with the only variant being this point & it’s like two different beverages entirely!

    6) Gather your stainless-steel shaker & jigger. Add ice (ideally, made from the waters of Lake Michigan or its fellows) to the former. Extract the glass from Step #1 & add one olive from Step #2 to its bowl.
      MissMittens and Geno929 like this.
  5. Cornelius
    7) Ever so gently pour a single drop of Lea & Perrins Worcestershire sauce onto the tine of a fork (in the interest of fewer dishwashing obligations, this could be the fork with which you, a mere moment ago, extracted an olive from its vessel).

    8) Let one-half of this drop run from the fork onto the ice placed in your shaker. No more.

    9) Pour one double-jigger/hefty-shot (2oz or 50-60ml) of gin over the ice.

    10) Pour one single jigger/half-shot (~1 oz or 25-30ml) of vermouth.

    11) Pour the final hefty-shot dose of gin, equal to the first.

    12) Close & shake vigorously until the steel frosts over.

    13) Pour over the olive & enjoy, ideally with some pre-prepared music & not staring at any illuminated screen. Dog-at-side optional.
      Geno929 likes this.
  6. rockandrollrabbit
    I do enjoy a dirty martini though. There's something about drinking something *salty.*
  7. MissMittens
    Manhattan with a dash of salt works really well too
  8. chaparrito
    Great post! Martinis, Old Fashioneds, and Manhattans are the cornerstones of cocktail recipes, and it's astonishing how many wet behind the ears "mixologists" don't know the basics. A Marti these days, if it's not an appletini or some other monstrosity, is likely to be pure gin or (ack!) vodka and nothing more. Having said that, I do like my Mannys with a twist unless it's a real Luxardo cherry.
  9. Dixie_Amazon
    I am fortunate that there are a couple of bars in Baton Rouge that pride in serving classic cocktails. Even there you have to be very specific when ordering a martini.
  10. Theada.Biserka
    A sidecar with a tiny bit of a raw sugar rim is also amazing!
  1. This site uses cookies to help personalise content, tailor your experience and to keep you logged in if you register.
    By continuing to use this site, you are consenting to our use of cookies.