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10 Essential Cocktails - What is your list?


maks_p
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Which cocktails should every home cocktailian be able to mix perfectly (without needing to consult a book) on account of their "essential" nature? Criteria should include taste, history, classical qualities, complexity.

Here is my list, but I don't have a tenth of the experience and breadth of knowledge of most here.

1) Sazerac

2) Gin Martini

3) Manhattan

4) Last Word

5) Aviation Cocktail

6) Sidecar

7) Old Fashioned

8) Margarita

9) Mai Tai

10) Ramos Gin Fizz

I thought this would be interesting both to get a sense as to which cocktails y'all believe are most "important", as well as to get some new ideas.

My honor roll includes the mojito, vieux carre, french 75, corpse reviver no. 2 and the clover club.

PS. I searched for a similar thread and couldn't find anything - apologies in advance if this is redundant!

Edited by maks_p (log)
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The ten that I typically drink the most of...

(1) The Riviera Cocktail (from TVH)

(2) The Last Word

(3) Sazerac

(4) Margarita

(5) Blood and Sand

(6) Pisco Sour

(7) The Art of Choke (also from TVH)

(8) The Bramble

(9) Wild Turkey & Diet Coke (sorry, but it's a staple)

(10) Dark N Stormy

"A woman once drove me to drink and I never had the decency to thank her" - W.C. Fields

Thanks, The Hopry

http://thehopry.com/

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Which cocktails should every home cocktailian be able to mix perfectly (without needing to consult a book) on account of their "essential" nature?  Criteria should include taste, history, classical qualities, complexity. 

If discussing the most essential drinks then I would agree with 5 on your list:

Martini

Manhattan

Sidecar

Old Fashioned

Margarita*

And would agree with weinoo on these as well:

Daiquiri

Negroni

Gin Fizz (close enough to a Collins but with egg white, so it's better)

And also toss in:

Mint Julep

Highball (as a single drink and as a category)

Basically I would say if you can make these correctly then you can make pretty much anything. I didn't number or rank them because I think they are all more or less equally "essential"

*I put the Margarita on my list simply due to it's popularity, although I'm not huge on Tequila and I actually think the Sidecar illustrates the same concept in a more elegant drink. If the list were to be strictly about the academic/conceptual qualitites of the drinks then I would probably replace it with...I'm not exactly sure; either Brandy Punch (or something similar) or a Vieux Carre.

Edited by thirtyoneknots (log)

Andy Arrington

Journeyman Drinksmith

Twitter--@LoneStarBarman

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In addition to the other fine lists already suggested, I'd add:

A gimlet with homemade lime cordial as well.

Caipirinha

Cocktail a la Louisianne

Edited by KatieLoeb (log)

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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Cool thread.

So I am going to list them in families, not in order of importance. Also I am listing a "twist" or riff on the original that is important to master as it is switching out one ingredient (and maybe adding some bitters) and turning it into an other cocktail.

Old Fashioned/Sazarac

Gimlet/Pegu

Daiquri/Mai Tai

Tequila Gimlet/Marg

Martini/Martinez

Manhattan/Rob Roy

Collins/Dark and Stormy

Mint Julip/Whiskey Smash/Bramble

Negroni/Americano

It's early and I know I am forgetting a cocktail or two. Will add later.

Toby

A DUSTY SHAKER LEADS TO A THIRSTY LIFE

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I too listed them by spirit and not by rank. I'll go one step further and list my favorite version of each one.

Martini w/ Junipero

Martinez w/ Hayes Old Tom

Ramos Gin Fizz w/ Bombay Dry

Aviation w/ Beefeater

Sazerac w/ Thomas Handy Rye

Manhattan w/ Rittenhouse 100 and Carpano Antica

Mint Julep w/ Old Rip Van Winkle 107

Hemingway Daquiri w/ Flor de Cana 4

Margarita w/ Chinaco

Pisco Sour w/ any Pisco italia

Right now though, since I just woke up, I could go for one of Toby's Blinkers - Rye, Grapefruit juice, raspberry syrup. Mmm.

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I can't disagree with any of the above, but for my own list I'd add the Corpse Reviver #2 and Jasmine which, for me, never fail to convert those people who tell me they hate gin. And with the Jasmine, there's the opportunity to convert people who say they hate gin and Campari.

And if you're a Bond fan like me, you absolutely have to know how to make a decent Vesper. Unfortunately, though, I think the drink is significantly better with the no longer imported Cocchi Aperitivo than with Lillet. I'm down to my last unopened bottle, which I'm saving until Quantum of Solace opens in November.

"Martinis should always be stirred, not shaken, so that the molecules lie sensuously one on top of the other." - W. Somerset Maugham

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I'm embarrassed to admit that whenever I have a cocktail party of any size, I always make sure to have the ingredients on hand for: Cosmopolitans, Vodka Tonics, and Gin and Tonics.

I've actually never had anyone ask for a Cosmo, but it makes me feel better to know that, if they asked, I could make one.

---

Erik Ellestad

If the ocean was whiskey and I was a duck...

Bernal Heights, SF, CA

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I've actually never had anyone ask for a Cosmo, but it makes me feel better to know that, if they asked, I could make one.

And this is where I would say, full of faux sincerity, "Oh, sorry...I don't have any cranberry juice. But, hey, if you like Cosmos, let me make you a..." And this is where the Jasmine usually comes in, or I may go with an Aviation, with violet. I have yet to make that for someone where they haven't immediately declared it their new favorite cocktail.

Edited by jmfangio (log)

"Martinis should always be stirred, not shaken, so that the molecules lie sensuously one on top of the other." - W. Somerset Maugham

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All your choices sound delicious. As a not-up-to-speed cocktailian I'd like to add the cocktail variations of my WASPY peeps, (who love the taste of straight hooch) the Gibson. And there's nuthin bad about a Bacardi.

As a WASPY sweet-hating drinker, a good g and t is a classic. I adore rye and bitter lemon, if you can find bitter lemon at a grocery store near you. I apologize that I don't have a longer list, but this ignorant conservative drinker's list, (fewer than ten) might look like this.

Martini. Duh. Stirred, on the rocks, twist.

Gibson.

Old Fashioned -- my father makes the best

Negroni

Campari and Tonic

Gin and tonic

A real Margarita, made in front of you by the barmen at the Frontera Grill.

A Sidecar, not just because it's delicious but because it was my abstemious and beloved mother-in-laws only cocktail.

Something that is so simple, like a Kir Royale.

Scotch and water.

(Withdrawing in shame. I know I don't belong here.)

Margaret McArthur

"Take it easy, but take it."

Studs Terkel

1912-2008

A sensational tennis blog from freakyfrites

margaretmcarthur.com

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I can't disagree with any of the above, but for my own list I'd add the Corpse Reviver #2 and Jasmine which, for me, never fail to convert those people who tell me they hate gin.  And with the Jasmine, there's the opportunity to convert people who say they hate gin and Campari.

And if you're a Bond fan like me,  you absolutely have to know how to make a decent Vesper.  Unfortunately, though, I think the drink is significantly better with the no longer imported Cocchi Aperitivo than with Lillet.  I'm down to my last unopened bottle, which I'm saving until Quantum of Solace opens in November.

For those who like the Jasmine, and as an even easier gateway to the world of Gin and Campari, allow me to recommend the Bitter Elder, which I first saw on the Drinkboy forums here (I think):

1.5 oz gin (Plymouth the delicious and approachable choice)

.75 oz St. Germain

.5 oz Campari

.5 oz lemon (juice of half is usually what I do)

Shake/strain/up

Even more like grapefruit than the Jasmine, its remarkable (and a little less sweet while maintainging balance). These have become a runaway hit for us, converting even a few folks who were strictly in the wine-only set to branch out a bit and try some of the things from the bar.

Andy Arrington

Journeyman Drinksmith

Twitter--@LoneStarBarman

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(Withdrawing in shame. I know I don't belong here.)

Ms. McArthur: I for one think your list is grand and can't fault it. Don't let anyone tell you any different. I'd personally order both the scotch and the Campari with soda leaving the water for washing up and the tonic for the gin -- or for my wife who doesn't drink and takes her tonic right out the bottle -- but whatever.

Rye and bitter lemon? I'm absolutely drinking that tomorrow after work.

Cheers,

Mike

"The problem with the world is that everyone is a few drinks behind."

- Bogart

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I've actually never had anyone ask for a Cosmo, but it makes me feel better to know that, if they asked, I could make one.

And this is where I would say, full of faux sincerity, "Oh, sorry...I don't have any cranberry juice. But, hey, if you like Cosmos, let me make you a..." And this is where the Jasmine usually comes in, or I may go with an Aviation, with violet. I have yet to make that for someone where they haven't immediately declared it their new favorite cocktail.

I know its cool to hate on them, but I don't think there isn't anything wrong with a well made cosmo. I understand people not wanting to make a million of them because people order it as a shortcut, but I don't think there is anything inherently bad about them.

I make them like Robert Hess http://www.smallscreennetwork.com/video/41/cosmopolitan/ and think they taste great.

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I've actually never had anyone ask for a Cosmo, but it makes me feel better to know that, if they asked, I could make one.

And this is where I would say, full of faux sincerity, "Oh, sorry...I don't have any cranberry juice. But, hey, if you like Cosmos, let me make you a..." And this is where the Jasmine usually comes in, or I may go with an Aviation, with violet. I have yet to make that for someone where they haven't immediately declared it their new favorite cocktail.

I know its cool to hate on them, but I don't think there isn't anything wrong with a well made cosmo. I understand people not wanting to make a million of them because people order it as a shortcut, but I don't think there is anything inherently bad about them.

I make them like Robert Hess http://www.smallscreennetwork.com/video/41/cosmopolitan/ and think they taste great.

I agree, it's never a drink that I'll complain about or roll my eyes at (well thats bad form anyway but I mean internally). When made well, adhering to basic principles of balance, it can be a revelation to people who have never had it made that way, and with a little prodding can lead them into a greater appreciation of other more interesting cocktails. And hey, it's faster to make than a Mojito.

That said, the last time I made one at home was probably two and a half years ago.

Andy Arrington

Journeyman Drinksmith

Twitter--@LoneStarBarman

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Cosmos blew up partly in thanks to a certain HBO series that I dread to even be in the same house as some one who's watching it.

I noticed that a lot of females were really ordering the crap out of them for a good bit. Fortunately, it seems like that trend has died down.

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As a WASPY sweet-hating drinker, a good g and t is a classic. I adore rye and bitter lemon, if you can find bitter lemon at a grocery store near you. I apologize that I don't have a longer list, but this ignorant conservative drinker's list, (fewer than ten) might look like this.

Negroni

Campari and Tonic

Gin and tonic

(Withdrawing in shame. I know I don't belong here.)

Just curious, can you really taste the difference between a Campari & tonic and a Campari & soda? Don't get me wrong - you horrible people have got me drinking and liking Campari, but it does tend to make everything taste like, well, Campari IMO. Maybe I need a few more bottles under my belt to refine my palate.

It's almost never bad to feed someone.

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As a WASPY sweet-hating drinker, a good g and t is a classic. I adore rye and bitter lemon, if you can find bitter lemon at a grocery store near you. I apologize that I don't have a longer list, but this ignorant conservative drinker's list, (fewer than ten) might look like this.

Negroni

Campari and Tonic

Gin and tonic

(Withdrawing in shame. I know I don't belong here.)

Just curious, can you really taste the difference between a Campari & tonic and a Campari & soda? Don't get me wrong - you horrible people have got me drinking and liking Campari, but it does tend to make everything taste like, well, Campari IMO. Maybe I need a few more bottles under my belt to refine my palate.

We all need a few more bottles of Campari under our belts.

Yes, there is a real difference between a C and S and a C and T. With soda, you get a purer Campari taste, with a C and T it's refreshing and botanical.

Hmm... Campari and Bitter Lemon?

Margaret McArthur

"Take it easy, but take it."

Studs Terkel

1912-2008

A sensational tennis blog from freakyfrites

margaretmcarthur.com

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For those who like the Jasmine, and as an even easier gateway to the world of Gin and Campari, allow me to recommend the Bitter Elder, which I first saw on the Drinkboy forums here (I think):

Just tried one of these, and wow - what a delicious drink. This one's going on the short list.

"Martinis should always be stirred, not shaken, so that the molecules lie sensuously one on top of the other." - W. Somerset Maugham

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Hmm... Campari and Bitter Lemon?

Do report back on that one. It sounds like it might be quite tasty!

I love almost anything with Bitter Lemon. Bourbon especially. Maybe because it sweetens it up a bit? Oddly, I can't stand tonic. Too acrid. But Bitter Lemon, which is essentially citrus flavored tonic, I love. Go figure. :wacko:

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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Bitter lemon is, essentially, lemon soda with quinine added. You could approximate a home version by adding lemon juice to tonic water, but I'd think that would make the soda too acidic. Best thing, probably, would be to make a quinine tincture and add that to something like limonata or the GUS Dry Lemon Soda to-taste.

--

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Sam:

Thanks for the suggestions. But this is what makes even less sense to me.

It would seem, (after being tested on such things) I have a very sensitive or "supertasters" palate. More tastebuds per square inch, apparently. Bitter flavors are particularly off the charts in my mouth. Can't handle unsweetened coffee, tonic water, many digestifs (Fernet Branca, which intellectually I understand is delicious, is just horrid to me), etc. Nonetheless, I love Bitter Lemon soda as a mixer.

Now that I think it through with more of an analytical bent, I suspect it's because the drinks I tend to make with it have some sort of sweetening agent included. Usually an herbal simple syrup or something to take that bitter edge off.

It must just be me. But I suppose knowing one's own palate is definitely a good thing.

Edited by KatieLoeb (log)

Katie M. Loeb
Booze Muse, Spiritual Advisor

Author: Shake, Stir, Pour:Fresh Homegrown Cocktails

Cheers!
Bartendrix,Intoxicologist, Beverage Consultant, Philadelphia, PA
Captain Liberty of the Good Varietals, Aphrodite of Alcohol

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There are several different kinds of "supertasters." Some of them do seem to have a greater concentration of fungiform papillae, which would account for the greater taste sensitivity. But it's also true that while most so-called "supertasters" have some increased sensations of non-bitter tastes, they are often not "super-sensitive" to other tastes the way they are to bitterness. For example, supertasters rarely complain that something is too sweet (more on which later). So there is something about supertasters that makes them especially sensitive to bitter tastes, and this has been linked to the genetically-mediated ability to taste phenylthiocarbamide and other bitter-tasting compounds that not everyone can taste.

Supertasters tend to dislike things like cruciferous vegetables, asparagus, spinach, grapefruit, coffee and tea, and alcohol (!). Quinine and all bittering substances (aka, bitters) have an increased bitterness for supertasters. For most people, however, the effect of bitterness can be tamed with sweetness. In other words, if you have a cup of coffee that is too bitter to drink straight, most people can balance the bitterness with sugar to the point that they are able to drink and enjoy it. The amount of sugar will depend on the person, and perhaps on that person's genetic sensitivity to bitter compounds. We are already a bit behing the 8-ball in America, because the American palate is trained to enjoy sweet tastes and avoid bitter tastes. Italians, for example, don't have this problem. Anyway, it's interesting that you mention a particular sensitivity to bitterness, because when I have made your cocktails, they have often seemed sweet to my palate.

As for bitter lemon, it seems probable that there is a small enough amount of quinine and a large enough amount of sugar and acid to counterbalance for whatever your level of sensitivity might be.

Edited by slkinsey (log)

--

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In no particular order

Gin Rickey

Negroni

Sazerac

Rye old fashioned

50/50 Manhattan

50/50 Gin Martini w/ Hermes Orange bitters :biggrin:

Margarita

Last Word

Daiquiri

Martinez

John Deragon

foodblog 1 / 2

--

I feel sorry for people that don't drink. When they wake up in the morning, that's as good as they're going to feel all day -- Dean Martin

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