I'm been a home enthusiast and some time speakeasy operator. I'm looking to make the jump to the big time, as it were. I'm versed in silly things like making caviars, dehydrating liqueurs into dust, fat washing, I've even made pretty damn tasty bitters. But yesterday my friend asked for a greyhound, which sent me running to my laptop.
Now the greyhound isn't exactly an uncommon drink, I should probably have it committed to memory if I want to be serving drinks in any sort of legitimate professional sense. This incident got me thinking, What other drink should I be able to reflexively pour?
I think it would be difficult to arrive at a "Definative" list of must know cocktails. A lot is going to depend on the clientel of the establishment and what they typically drink. Sazerac, Last Word, Aviation, Derby, etc. might be standard at one bar, while Greyhounds, Screwdrivers, Sea Breeze, etc. are standard at some other bar, and then there are the interesting crowds which have a blending of the two.
For the Museum's "Pocket Recipe Guide" we tried to compile the ~100 recipes we'd "like" all bartenders to know, but we left out Greyhound, Screwdriver, Sea Breeze, etc. And instead included some of the slightly obscure drinks such as Commodore, Japanese, and Vieux Carre.
Cheryl Charming does have a strong list of "Drinks Bartenders Should Know", on her site which she has divided into various families:
The Juicy FamilyThe Shot FamilyThe Creamy FamilyThe Classic FamilyThe Sour FamilyThe Highball FamilyThe Tropical FamilyThe Stick FamilyThe Hot FamilyMisc. Family
(and by "Stick Family", she means "Muddled" :-)...
here are the drinks that were included in Dale's Eighty Classics list that circulated around the UK for a while...
DALE DE GROFF’S
CLASSICS EVERY BARTENDER SHOULD KNOW
Reprinted from Cocktails and How to Mix Them, by Robert, a Herbert Jenkins Book, Trinity Press, London, England.
Note: In many countries around the world absinthe is illegal but not in the UK. I included the drink because there was a time in the 19th century when absinthe was the most widely used alcoholic beverage in the world.
The Alexander began as a gin drink probably during prohibition to take the bite off bathtub gin. Brandy drinkers have since adopted the drink to such an extent that the gin Alexander is seldom seen.
AMERICAN BEAUTY COCKTAIL
I do not know which came first, the rose or the cocktail, but they are both perfect.
This cocktail was bottled and sold around the world by the Martini & Rossi Company in the 1890’s.
This drink experienced a revival with the internet cocktail crowd.
The Bacardi Cocktail has the distinction of being the only cocktail that is brand designated by the Supreme Court of New York State. In the 1936 Supreme Court ruling it became illegal to mix a Bacardi Cocktail with any rum other than Bacardi.
Served at Pravda Bar in New York City, a vodka bar with a Russian theme. Pravda boasts a list of vodkas totaling well over 100 offerings, as well as a series of in-house infused flavored vodkas.
A Grasshopper made with crème de banana instead of crème de menthe.
The Bellini was invented by Giuseppe Cipriani in 1948, at Harry’s Bar in Venice. Originally the drink was only made for four months of the year, when the sweet white peaches used for the puree were in season.
BETWEEN THE SHEETS
The recipe commonly found in books for this wonderfully named drink usually includes rum and Brandy. The uncommon recipe found in Ted Saucier’s pulchritudinous volume Bottoms Up, calls for just one base spirit and the addition of Benedictin and is far superior to the other recipes. Obviously this is a cousin of the Sidecar.
BIJOU (Savoy’s version)
Adapted From The Savoy Cocktail Book
This unusual drink dates to the death of Queen Victoria’s husband Prince Albert in 1861, which set off deep mourning in the British Isles, they even draped the champagne in black.
BLOOD AND SAND
The Blood and Sand was created for the release of a silent Movie of the same name in 1922 with Rudolph Valentino.
Ferdinand (Pete) Petiot who worked first at Harry’s New York Bar in Paris and then the King Cole Bar in The St Regis Hotel in New York City is purported to be the creator of the Bloody Mary In Paris at Harry’s New York Bar.
Jerry Thomas’s famous flaming drink.
Flips are drinks that combine egg and alcoholic beverages from beer to wine to spirits Popularized in England and Colonial New England in the 18th Century.
BRANDY MILK PUNCH
This simple drink is a holiday Favorite that is a good substitute for eggnog if eggs are a problem.
When the Waldorf was just the Waldorf and it stood where the Empire State Building stands today, it was the home of the famous Big Brass Rail. The Big Brass Rail was the watering hole for the robber barons of the late 19th early 20th century, it was also the home of Johnny Solon. Johnny was the top barman of the day and he invented the Bronx cocktail after a trip to the newly opened Bronx Zoo because he had a hard time distinguishing between the Zoo and the Bar on a given night.
The Bullshot and the Bloody Bull are steakhouse lunch specials that are spin-off recipes of the Bloody Mary.
The Caipirinha came from the country, where it was a favorite drink of farmers. The word caipira means country man, and Caipirinha is a little drink with country brandy.
The Cape Codder was the grandfather of the breeze drinks. The Cranberry is one of the three native North American fruits along with the blueberry and the Concord grape. The Ocean Spray Company which evolved from the Cranberry growers 1930 cooperative lead to creative marketing of cranberry products, the most successful of which is the juice line. In the 1960’s the Ocean Spray Company marketed the juice as a mixer with beverage alcohol especially the rapidly growing vodka category.
The Champagne cocktail is one of the thirteen original cocktails that appeared in the 1862 first edition of The Bon Vivant’s Companion by Jerry Thomas. The recipe has remained unchanged in one hundred forty years.
CHAMPAGNE PICK-ME-UP (Ritz Bar, Paris c. 1936)
The idea of the pick-me-up category of drinks harkens back hundreds of years when beverage alcohol was consumed beginning in the morning and throughout the day. Some spirits or combinations were settled on as pick-me-up or eye-opener drinks.
This is Basically lemonade with red wine instead of water.
Variation: Harry Johnson called it Claret Lemonade and prepared it by filling a tumbler with crushed ice and then ¾ filled with lemonade and the claret floating on top. The Gentleman’s Table guide, London 1871, has a recipe for Claret Punch in a soda water glass; a tablespoon and a half of sugar, a slice of lemon, and a slice of orange, fill ¼ with shaved ice, pour in the claret and shake well, Serve with a garnish of strawberries and raspberries.
In his Old Waldorf Bar Day Albert Stevens Crockett credits this pre-prohibition cocktail to the Bellevue-Stratford Hotel in Philadelphia where an Algonquin Round Table sort of group called the Clover Club lent their name to the drink.
PORT COBBLER *
This is an unusual pisco recipe from Joe Baum’s La Fonda Del Sol menu NYC 1960.
19th Century specialty drink from Jerry Thomas” 1887 Bartender’s Guide– How To Mix All Kinds of Plain and Fancy Drinks.
The Cosmopolitan goes back to the test marketing of the product Absolut Citron. I have been hearing an unsubstantiated rumor that a woman named Cheryl Cook invented it in South Beach, Miami, though I was given credit for inventing it by NY Magazine I didn’t. What I did do was popularize a definitive recipe. That recipe became widely accepted as the standard.
COLLINS TOM, JOHN, OR VODKA
Oscar Mendelsohn, in his 1965 Dictionary of Drink and Drinking, gives credit for the “Tom Collins” to “John Collins,” a waiter/bartender at Limmer’s Hotel in New York City who was especially talented with his gin slings The daisy drinks that emerged in the early 1880s were very similar to the Collins, made with fresh lemon juice, a sweet ingredient and a base spirit. The difference was the sweet ingredient was usually split between gum or simple syrup and some liqueur, like curacao or maraschino.
Free Cuba was the cry heard from the Roughriders and their Cuban counterparts as they swept the Spanish out of Cuba at the end of the 19th century.
DARK AND STORMY
The Dark and Stormy is a favorite of the recreational boaters who sail from island to island in the Caribbean.
DIRTY WHITE MOTHER
This is a cocktail that has been celebrated in song
“We knew the excitement was bound to begin when Laura got blind on Dubonnet and gin and scratched her veneer with a Cartier pin: I couldn’t have liked it more. I went to a marvelous party…”
From the Noel Coward’s song, “I went to a Marvelous Party”
Created in the 1920s at the Vista Alegre in Havana, Cuba and named For General Carmen Menocal, the president of Cuba before Batista.
This is one of the recipes of the legendary Constantino Ribiliagua of the Floridita bar in Havana, Cuba.
FLAME OF LOVE MARTINI
Los Angeles home town hero Pepe Ruiz of the original Chasens, designed this one for Dean Martin. Legend has it that the first night Sinatra tasted one he ordered 200 of them everyone in the restaurant.
The French Martini was one of the drinks that got the “flavored martini" craze started.
This drink started as a gin drink but now is more often made as a brandy of cognac drink. It was originally a Tom Collins style drink with Champagne in place club soda.
Prepare a Martini but substitute a cocktail onion for the olive. Charles Gibson, who created the Gibson Girls enlisted the bartender at the Player’s Club to create this special cocktail. After several attempts, the bartender came up with a dry martini with small cocktail onions. That’s one story, but not the one Albert Stevens Crockett tells in Old Waldorf Days, according to Crockett the drink was named for Billie Gibson a fight promoter
The temptation is to substitute fresh lime juice for the preserved lime juice, but the veteran gimlet drinker will usually be disappointed.
The difference between the Fizz and a Collins is glass size and garnish. The Collins goes in a tall or “Collins” glass with a cherry and orange slice garnish. And the fizz is ungarnished and served in a short highball style glass once known as a delmonico.
The New Orleans Fizz or Ramos Fizz was originated by Henry C. Ramos in 1888 and made famous at his saloon, The Stag. Over the years, I”ve cured thousands of hangovers with this famous eye-opener, it is one of the greats. The old Hotel Roosevelt in New Orleans bought the rights to the trade name. Today the hotel is called the Fairmont and don’t leave New Orleans without a visit to the bar where Tony Ortiz carries on the tradition of the Ramos fizz in grand style.
GIN SLING*(Not to be confused with the Singapore Sling)
The sling is older than the cocktail category and was defined as a strong spirit with water and a sweetener. This late 19th century recipe although not well known is well overdue for a revival.
Rickeys are traditionally a dry drink, but syrup or sugar can be added.
The Rickey took its name from “Colonel Joe” Rickey, a lobbyist in Washington in the late 19th century who regularly drank with members of Congress in ‘Shoemaker’s Bar. The barman who invented the drink let Colonel Joe taste it and when the Colonel called for another, he christened it the Gin Rickey. Oddly enough, Colonel Joe Rickey later became the first major importer of limes to this country.
The early recipe, which first appeared in Modern Mixed Drinks in 1895, is exactly the same as our modern recipe.
Created at Poor Red’s Saloon in Eldorado, California near Sutters Mill where everything is golden.
Strictly speaking, grog is a hot or cold drinks of rum, sugar or molasses, lemon juice and water in the following proportions:
The Galliano brand manager and his promotional group struck gold when they invented the imaginary character Harvey a surfer who ran into walls after to many Wallbangers.
HEMINGWAY DAIQUIRI (Floridita Bar, Havana, Cuba)
The Great Constantino Ribailagua of the Floridita was inspired by the cocktail muse when he added fresh grapefruit juice and Maraschino liqueur to the Daiquiri. The result is ambrosia.
Made famous by Pat O”Brien’s in New Orleans. Served in a 29-ounce hand blown crested glass (reminiscent of a hurricane lamp), it’s a real eye-opener for people at Carnival time. The rum/juice combination appears to have surfaced at the 1939 World’s Fair in New York, at the Hurricane Bar. Today O’Brien’s uses a mix with some juices and artificial flavorings etc… I went back to what the original bartender Charles Cantrell might have used to get more natural fruit flavor.
Joe Sheridan, a barman at Foynes “Flying Boat Terminal,” which is now known as Shannon International Airport, originally prepared this drink. Sheridan had a habit of greeting weary travelers sneaking into war torn Europe on Seaplanes from the United States with hot coffee laced with Irish whiskey and topped with lightly whipped Irish cream. Eventually, Joe was stolen away to San Francisco by the owner of the Buena Vista Cafe at the end of the Hyde Street cable car line, where he held forth with his famous coffee for many years before until death.
This drink was one if the house cocktails at the Hotel Bel Air in Los Angeles, California.
The Kir takes it’s name from a former mayor of the town of Dijon in the center of the area in France where the best cassis is produced.
KIR ROYALE / IMPERIAL
LONG ISLAND ICED TEA
Credit for this incredibly successful frat house drink is attributed to Robert C. Butt. When made properly, the drink tastes great and does not have to be an evening ender. The key is to have all the spirits present but in small amounts. In the recipe here the total alcohol content is 2½ oz. It is a well-balanced good tasting drink, in large part because of the fresh lemon juice and simple syrup.
The Mai Tai was created in 1944 by Victor Bergeron, at his Trader Vic’s, in Emeryville California, to take advantage of some good 16-year-old Jamaican rum he had purchased. He often said it was, “One of the finest drinks I ever concocted.” When he made the drink the first time, he served it to his friends from Tahiti, Ham and Carrie Guild. After tasting the drink, Carrie raised her glass and said, “mai tai roa ae”, which means “out of this world” or “the best” in Tahitian. “That’s the name of the drink,” replied Bergeron.
The Manhattan is the quintessential Rye Cocktail — well, except in Minnesota and Wisconsin, where they prefer Brandy Manhattans, or down South where Bourbon Manhattans are the choice. Legend has it that in 1874, a bartender at the Manhattan Club created the Manhattan when Jenny Churchill (mother of Winston) threw a party for her father’s friend, and the newly elected Governor of New York Samuel James Tilden.
Originally the secret of the Hollywood movie colony, in forty years the Margarita has gone from an obscure Mexican oddity to one of the most popular and fastest growing cocktails in the United States. The drink has been in the UK for 25 years in a small way but recently has started to show some movement.
The Martinez cocktail from O.H. Byron’s 1884 cocktail book was an early step towards the modern martini marrying gin and vermouth for the first time in a cocktail, even though it was sweet gin and sweet vermouth. The 19th century recipe calls for pony and wineglass, depending on the source a wineglass is 2 or 4 ounces but a pony is always one ounce. For our purpose use the 2 to 1 ration of wineglass to pony.
EXTRA DRY MARTINI
The story of the Martini is still evolving one hundred and twenty years after Harry Johnson published a recipe with that name in his paperback volume called The Bartenders Manual in 1882. His recipe of gum syrup, bitters, curacao, old tom gin, and Italian vermouth certainly bears little resemblance to the dry martini of the latter half of the twentieth century. Johnson instructs us to:
“Stir well with a spoon. Strain into a fancy cocktail glass; put in a cherry or medium size olive (if required) and squeeze a lemon peel on top”.
The turn of the century Knickerbocker paired Plymouth dry gin and dry vermouth half and half with a dash of orange bitters. It wouldn’t be until after prohibition that the three to one martini came into vogue without the dash of orange bitters. Forty years later at the height of the Cold War the extra dry martini arrived followed shortly after by the vodka martini. Today’s Flavored Martinis are really just cocktails in a martini glass.
FDR was the first to popularize this odd drink. Try a brand of gourmet martini olives like The Tipsy Olives sold by Sable and Rosenfeld, they are packed in vermouth and spirit vinegar. Another idea is to remove half of the brine from regular store bought olives and refill the jar with dry vermouth.
This cousin of the Cosmo was created by Mike Hewett at Marions Bar New York City.
MILLION DOLLAR COCKTAIL
Created by Ngiam Tong Boon of Raffles Hotel Singapore circa 1910.
This is the ultimate brunch drink, appearing on every brunch menu ever written.
The Juleps were the first American drinks to attract international attention. Everyone thinks Bourbon when they think Julep but actually the first juleps were made with cognac and peach brandy. The Juleps garnered quite a bit of attention internationally especially in England, but it seems it was the hot American summers that made them so desirable and they never really got off the ground in London. They were served icy cold, filled with shaved ice and crusted outside with ice,
The Mojito was a farmer’s drink, sort of the Budweiser of Cuba, with its origins wrapped up the years between 1850 when the rum industry in Cuba modernized and 1920. Those years brought important elements of the drink to Cuba for the first time like ice and charged water. The first shipments of ice arrived from New England in the 1850s but you can bet only the wealthy had access until the turn of the century when the first artificial ice plants began operation in Cuba.
Harry McElhone takes credit for this cocktail in his book the ABC of Mixing Cocktails, and claims he named it after Dr. Serge Voronoff’s experiments in rejuvenation.
John Martin introduced this drink to promote his new product Smirnoff Vodka after the Second World War. He did promotions with the owner of the Cock and Bull a big star hangout on Sunset Blvd in Los Angeles, California. It was served in a copper mug with two mules engraved on the front kicking up their heels.
In 1740, Admiral Vernon, the commander of the British Naval forces in the West Indies and a hero after capturing Porto Bello from the Spanish, cut the established rum ration for British seamen to half a pint mixed in a half pint of water. Vernon reasoned that with the heat, disease, and dysentery that were unavoidable hazards of operating a Navy vessel in the tropical waters of the Caribbean, at least he could keep the men from falling out of the rigging stinking with rum. Vernon cut a an imposing figure partly because of his great coat, which was made of an blend of silk and wool called grogram, and he was nicknamed old grogram, and his watered down rum was called grog. Vernon later added lime juice and sugar to the rum barrels to make a more palatable mix, and that sounds remarkably like a Daiquiri.
Created in Florence, Italy in the 1920s, at the Casoni bar when a famous customer Count Camillo Negroni asked the barman to add gin to his Americano. This drink can be made with vodka in place of gin.
The Old Fashioned was created at the Pendennis Club in Louisville, Kentucky. There are two warring camps of Old Fashioned drinkers: those who muddle the fruit and those who don’t. I belong to the first camp, I like the flavor added with the muddling.
While working at the Hotel Bel-Air in the late 1970s, my interest was piqued by an odd drink that had a slice of cucumber and a slice of apple as the garnish. I learned more about the drink from some of my British customers, who described how the drink was served in a mug and garnished extravagantly with borage, a cucumber tasting herb, or when not available, fresh mint sprigs and any or all of the following, orange, lemon, lime, and strawberries. Yes, when served British style, the drink is a real fruit salad and famous at Wimbledon time.
The drink was Pimms cup, the base of which is an aperitif called Pimms Cup No. 1, which gets its name from James Pimm, who operated an oyster bar in London in the 1840s, and mixed his digestive tonic with gin, herbs and quinine and other never revealed ingredients. I suspect that it contains some of the aromatic ingredients found in bitters like Angostura. Angostura would have just arrived on the English market around the time that Pimm was concocting his tonic. Pimm’s drink was classified as a gin sling and could have been the first English cocktail although it was probably served without ice.
In the 1950s in Puerto Rico, a man named Don Ramón Lopez-Irizarry came up with a delicious homogenized cream made from coconut. The product became known as Coco Lopez cream of coconut and was used for tropical dishes and desserts. But the best was yet to come; in 1957 Ramon Marrero, a bartender at Puerto Rico’s Caribe Hilton combined coconut cream with rum, pineapple juice and ice in a blender to create this famous drink.
PLANTERS PUNCH* (recipe from the Rainbow room c.1989)
Planter’s Punch was literally the punch of the plantation in 18th and 19th century on the large sugar plantations throughout the Caribbean. The punch was usually a simple recipe including a local rum citrus juice and a spice syrup produced on the plantation. I got a bit more ambitious with my recipe from my days at the Rainbow Plantation and created a drink that was more Zombie like then the simple Planters Punch recipes that usually appear in cocktail recipe books.
This variation of the whiskey highball was popular with women in the 1950’s and 1960’s as a less sweet whiskey and ginger highball.
There is a section in Jerry Thomas’s 1862 edition of How to Mix Drinks called, “Fancy Drinks,” that begins with three Pousse Café recipes, the first of which is from an early 19th Century saloon owner from New Orleans named Santina who Thomas credits with improving the whole category of Cocktail with his Crustas. Santina’s Pousse Café is made with Cognac, maraschino, and Curacao.
Note: Drink this one layer by layer, or break the bartenders heart and stir.
This drink is my tribute to the Ritz Cocktails of Paris and Madrid.
Bill Grimes in his wonderful book, Straight up or On the Rocks, found the origin of this scotch Manhattan, also known as the Affinity, a Broadway show called Rob Roy.. In the original Savoy Cocktail Book, Harry Craddock calls for equal parts of scotch, sweet Vermouth, and dry Vermouth but that might be a tad sweet for today’s drinker.
One of my favorite drinks from the Royal Hawaiian Hotel in Honolulu although the hotel is still there, the bar no longer serves this cocktail which was its signature drink in the 1950s.
This drink is based on the bitters compounded by Antoine Amedee Peychaud. Peychaud made a cognac cocktail by mixing his bitters and cognac. The favorite cognac of the day was Sazerac de Forge et Fils and probably the name came from the brandy even though as American taste changed to whiskey the drink became a rye drink. I have my own twist, a mix of brandy and rye.
The Scarlett O’Hara was a promotion by the Ocean Spray Company in the 1950s.
This was one of the drinks that John Martin used to promote his new product Smirnoff Vodka after the Second World War. The name comes from the Oilmen in Texas, Oklahoma, and California who adopted the drink and stirred the vodka and OJ with their screwdrivers.
This Highball and the Fore runner called the Cape Codder introduced Cranberry juice as a cocktail mixer.
SIDECAR ( Harry’s Bar Paris c. 1930)
SINGAPORE SLING ( Raffles Hotel Singapore c. 1930)
SLOW COMFORTABLE SCREW
SMITH AND KEARNS
This was the house drink of the Famous 21 Club in New York City for many years.
Also known as the Spanish Martini this was created for late Joe Drowne Owner of the Hotel Bel Air in Los Angeles California.
This is the original James Bond Martini. The recipe was created by Gilberto (London based bartender) for Ian Fleming for the publication of the first “Bond” book Casino Royale. The Bond martini was later stream lined to “Vodka, shaken not stirred” to accommodate the Smirnoff brand vodka which paid well to display their bottle in the movie
209 EAST COCKTAIL*
This drink was created for Carl and Sharon Butrum on the occasion of the first Straight On ‘Til Morning party.
* Drinks created by Dale DeGroff
I agree with about 90% of the list but things like Banshee! I have work in some top end london bars including LAB for 3 1/2 year and alot of my clients were bartender or leading figues in the industry and it was rare thats a monkey gland or a flame of love was ordered and normally that was only through the bartender recomending it. There are things like the bramble and other modern day classics that should be on that list i feel.
It is just so hard to narrow the list down as i think about it more and more the list gets longer and longer.
Maybe if a list is done it should be graded in levels on what kind of bar/level of bartender and also home bartender etc
What I like about Dale'slist is that there are a good balance of classics, TGI-style disco drinks and your more modern or re-popularised cocktails.
Let's be realistic, in most bars you get a mix of guests and just knowing the classics isn't gonna help when someone comes up and asks for aa frozen screaming banshee (yep. We all know the type!). Likewise if you are a dedicated bartender in a mainstream bar a la TGI's or Planet Hollywood, you should still have a good understanding of the classic formulas.
I;m not saying the list is perfect, but it is certainly a good reference point.
A non-professional's view here, but I have to agree that a lot is going to depend on your bar clientele (which depends a bit on the setting as well). I like both Cheryl and Dale's lists, but let me throw out one more: the International Bartender's Association "Official Cocktails" (not really just cocktails, though). It's not really a complete list of should-knows. The Greyhound doesn't make the list, though interestingly the Salty Dog does. Likewise the Madras and Cape Codder are out, but the Sea Breeze is in. It's also notoriously short on shot-style drinks which Cheryl highlights and which are in high demand in certain bars.
All that said, though, with only a few exceptions, most of the drinks on the list are Go-To drinks for a lot of people so probably best to have some notion of them.
Hi,My lists were developed solely based on having worked many types of bars for the past 28 years. Most of the bars would be considered "tourist" bars (my favorite).
What I learned about tourist bars is that serve as a great "survey" bars. They helped me measure what the masses know about cocktails, what's going on in their local bars, what drinks are popular where they are from, etc. So, my lists are also based on that as well.
Personally, I have felt for awhile now that I should make another spin-off list from the Classic family...something like Vintage Cocktails maybe.
Cheryl Charming aka Miss Charming™misscharming.com