Trader Vic’s (1946)

“I hate like hell to bring up unpleasant things at a time like this, but go easy on this one because it’s tough on your running board,” said Trader Vic in his 1946 “Trader Vic’s Book of Food & Drink.” Not sure what tequila he was using, but this really isn’t tougher than any other drink, certainly less so than his skull-cracking Navy Grog.

Vic gets high marks for including tequila in his tiki arsenal (in the ’40s, even) – a rarity that still hasn’t been fully addressed, if you ask me. This one also includes crème de cassis – a blackcurrant liqueur that’s delicious enough to chow down on by the spoonful. Some take to boosting the flavors in this drink by using fresh-muddled ginger, infusing the tequila with a slice of jalapeño, or adding bit of mezcal – and I say a resounding “¡ay, mami chula!” to that.

THE KIT

Hardware: Shaker, Jigger, Barspoon, Straw (optional), Hawthorne strainer (if using Boston shaker)
Ice: Ice cubes, Cracked ice
Glassware: Collins glass
Spirits: Tequila (blanco or reposado, recommended: El Jimador, Espolón)
Mixers & Liqueurs: Crème de cassis (recommended: Gabriel Boudier), Ginger beer (recommended: Barritt’s, Reed’s Extra Ginger Brew)
Juices, Accents, & Garnishes: Lime juice, Lime wedge

HOW TO

In a shaker about a third-full with ice cubes, add:

1 1/2 oz tequila
3/4
oz crème de cassis
1/2
oz lime juice

Shake well to blend and chill, then strain into a Collins glass filled about two-thirds of the way up with cracked ice. Top with:

2 oz ginger beer

Stir lightly to blend and garnish with a lime wedge. Optionally, serve with a straw.

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Alembic, San Francisco (2008)

Daniel Hyatt at San Francisco’s Alembic came up with this one, a fine example of the West Coast “farm-fresh” style of craft cocktails – taking a well-loved classic (the Southside) and adding an element from the garden that elevates and enlivens the drink. In this case, fresh celery juice adds a neon punch of color and a subtle earthy flavor that unites the gin, lime, and mint just beautifully.

THE KIT

Hardware: Shaker, Jigger, Box grater or vegetable juicer, Fine mesh strainer
Ice: Ice cubes
Glassware: Cocktail glass
Spirits: London Dry gin (recommended: Beefeater, Tanqueray)
Mixers & Liqueurs: Simple syrup
Juices, Accents, & Garnishes: Celery juice, Lime juice, Fresh spearmint

HOW TO

Chill a cocktail glass in the freezer at least ten minutes.
Using the fine side of a box grater, grate a celery stalk over a bowl to produce juice. Strain juice to remove pulp.

In a shaker about a third-full with ice cubes, add:

1 1/2 oz London Dry gin
3/4
oz celery juice
1/2
oz lime juice
1/2
oz simple syrup
3 to 4 mint leaves

Shake gently to blend and chill, then double-strain into the chilled glass through a fine mesh strainer. Garnish with a large mint leaf that’s been lightly clapped between your hands to release its aromatic oils.

New York City, 1860ish

The Whiskey Sour is one in a family of “Sours” – modify the sweetener from simple syrup to honey syrup and you have a Gold Rush. Make it maple syrup and that’s a Rattlesnake. Make it with rum & lime, call it a Daiquiri. Keep swapping things around and tweaking proportions and you’ll get a Margarita, a Jack Rose, a Wild-Eyed Rose, a Sidecar… endless variations. Jerry Thomas first covered Sours in his 1862 book and just about every cocktail book since then has featured a version. I’ve uncovered a baffling array of recipes called “Whiskey Sour” – tall with soda in a Collins glass, frappe-style with blended crushed ice and Angostura bitters in a fizz glass, whiskey-forward on the rocks, citrus-forward up in a cocktail glass, and more. The original was surely just whiskey, lemon, and sugar, most likely on the rocks. Two hitchhikers this drink picked up along the way make a great addition: egg white and Angostura bitters. The egg brings body and texture, the Angostura helps mask the wet-dog smell that egg foam sometimes gets (plus it adds those delicious cinnamon and clove spices). Try it this way, then feel free to fiddle around with it, coming up with your own spin.

THE KIT

Hardware: Shaker, Jigger, Fine-mesh strainer
Ice: Ice cubes
Glassware: Cocktail glass or coupe
Spirits: Bourbon whiskey (recommended: Buffalo Trace, Wild Turkey 81, Four Roses “Yellow Label”)
Mixers & Liqueurs: Simple syrup, Egg white
Juices, Accents, & Garnishes: Lemon juice, Angostura bitters, Lemon wheel, Maraschino cherry

HOW TO

Chill a cocktail glass or coupe in the freezer at least ten minutes. Separate one egg, discarding the yolk. Lightly mix the egg white with a fork – this’ll help you measure it out.

In an empty shaker, add:
2 oz bourbon whiskey
1 oz lemon juice
1 oz simple syrup
1/2 oz egg whites

Make sure you have a good, tight seal (egg whites can foam up and expand when shaken). Shake without ice for 20 seconds to blend. Add a few ice cubes and shake again, hard, for at least 30 seconds. Double-strain into the chilled glass using a fine-mesh strainer.

Allow the egg foam to rise to the top (you can also spoon some residual foam out from the shaker) and, in a ring, drop:

8 drops Angostura bitters

Swirl the Angostura bitters with a cocktail pick to decorate the top of the drink. Garnish with a lemon wheel and Maraschino cherry pinned together with a cocktail pick.