Last week, a friend called to ask if I knew how to mix a cosmopolitan. I know this all-American cocktail contains vodka, Cointreau and cranberry juice, but I did not know the precise amounts of each ingredient.
Last fall, I received a copy of The Craft of the Cocktail ($35, Clarkson Potter, hardbound with full-color photographs) by Dale DeGroff. It is a delightful, easy-to-read book, chock full of recipes for and the history of drinks and cocktails. It includes information on glassware, condiments, humorous stories, definitions and helpful hints on how to stock a bar and bar equipment. Several weeks ago, DeGroff won the Julia Child Award given by the International Association of Cooking Professionals.
DeGroff writes that cocktails enjoyed renewed popularity in the late 1980s, a glamorous time when luxurious restaurants became a newfound source of entertainment. The interior design of a restaurant and bar were as important as the chef’s creations. DeGroff was one of the brains behind the reopening of the Rainbow Room in Rockefeller Center, where cocktails took center stage. The drinks’ popularity grew across the country and many people replaced their usual glass of white wine with a martini, Manhattan, Rob Roy or any number of classic and new cocktails bartenders would either shake or stir, serve straight up or on the rocks.
Do you know how to mix a cosmopolitan? Do you know the difference between a Manhattan and a Rob Roy? Is the sidecar a new invention or has it been around since World War I? What is a dirty martini? If a guest requests a daiquiri on a sultry summer evening, would you have the ingredients on hand to prepare the favorite cocktail served by John F. Kennedy and his wife Jacqueline?
My friend advised I write a column and offer recipes for classic cocktails. The drinks we enjoy before dinner in a restaurant can easily be mixed at home. All are from DeGroff’s book. Recipes can be doubled.
1 dash dry French vermouth
3 ounces gin
Pitted olive (no pimento) or lemon peel for garnish
Stir with ice in a mixing glass. Strain into a chilled martini glass and garnish with olive, lemon peel or both.
Makes one martini.
Note from Phyllis: A mixing glass is a metal cocktail shaker. Mix the martini with a long metal spoon created just for this purpose. Gin martinis are always stirred, never shaken. If you garnish this drink with cocktail onions, it is called a Gibson. A dirty martini contains a dash of olive juice, imparting a slightly salty flavor.
2 ounces blended or straight whiskey
1 ounce sweet Italian vermouth
2 dashes of Angostura bitters
Cherry for garnish
Pour all the ingredients over ice in a mixing glass and stir as you would a martini. Strain into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with the cherry.
Makes one Manhattan.
Note from Phyllis: DeGroff writes that the Manhattan was invented in 1874 by a bartender at the Manhattan Club at a party given by Jennie Jerome Churchill, Winston’s Brooklyn-born mother. Down South, the Manhattan is often made with bourbon. One of the most famous spin-offs is the Rob Roy.
2-1/2 ounces scotch
1 ounce Italian sweet vermouth
Dash of Angostura bitters
Lemon peel for garnish
Pour all the ingredients over ice in a mixing glass and stir as you would a martini. Strain into a chilled martini glass and garnish with the lemon peel.
Makes one Rob Roy.
1-1/2 ounces citron vodka
1/2 ounce Cointreau
1/4 ounce fresh lime juice
1 ounce cranberry juice
Shake all the ingredients with ice. Strain into a chilled martini glass.
Makes one cosmopolitan.
Note from Phyllis: No one really knows for certain who created this very popular drink. Some believe a bartender named Cheryl Cook, who was working on South Beach in Florida, invented it sometime during the 1980s. The cosmopolitan truly came into its own during the late ’90s. DeGroff likes to garnish his version with a piece of grated orange peel, which he ignites with a flame to bring out its flavor. He uses orange peel because Cointreau is an orange-flavored liqueur. This drink is a modern take-off on the sidecar, which has been around since World War I.
1 ounce brandy
1 ounce Cointreau
3/4 ounce fresh lemon juice
Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into an iced old-fashioned glass. If served "up," strain into a chilled martini glass.
Makes one sidecar.
Note from Phyllis: DeGroff garnishes the sidecar with the flamed orange peel as in the cosmopolitan. He places the rim of the chilled martini glass into sugar before straining the drink into the glass. Cointreau is also delicious on its own as an after-dinner drink. In Casablanca, Paul Heinreid and Ingrid Bergman walk into Rick’s and recognize Sam at the piano. They take a seat at the bar and Heinreid says, "Two Cointreaus, please."
1-1/2 ounces light rum
1 ounce simple syrup (recipe follows)
3/4 ounce fresh lime juice
Shake all the ingredients with ice and strain into a chilled martini glass.
Makes one daiquri.
Note from Phyllis: DeGroff writes this classic drink was created in Cuba in the late 19th century. It was a favorite libation of Nobel Prize-winning author Ernest Hemingway.
Fill an empty wine bottle halfway with superfine sugar, the other half with water. Cork the bottle. Shake vigorously until most of the sugar dissolves, about one minute. It will remain cloudy for five minutes. After it clears, shake again briefly and it is ready to use. Stored in the refrigerator, simple syrup will last for several weeks.
1 ounce Campari
1 ounce sweet vermouth
1 ounce gin
Combine all the ingredients in an iced old-fashioned glass and stir.
Makes one Negroni.
Note from Phyllis: DeGroff writes this drink was created at the Casoni Bar, in Florence, Italy, in the 1920s and was named for regular customer Count Camillio Negroni. Vodka can be substituted for the gin.