Everyday, mostly at dusk, when the sun starts hiding unmercifully, I come to the same old, sad conclusion: time is going by like crazy and we obey, living our lives in such great haste. I feel like I get to do so little and the day has already gone. That’s one of the reasons why I started this blog, to try and practice the art of slow(er) living. To try and appreciate a good story, a good laugh and a stellar outfit. And, besides other things, a good drink. That’s why I’ve been trying to pursue this idea of “drinking correctly” – a phrase that I use when a copious meal is paired with your choice of an aperitif, the right wine and finished on a stronger note (with brandy, eau de vie or distilled liquor for example). So here is a list of seven cocktails that will not only make you look cooler but will also, at least from personal experience, make you better enjoy the food and the stories. Your friends will thank me.
It was invented around 1919 at a Caffé in Florence, Italy. It’s one of my favorite cocktails and I usually drink it as an aperitif, before dinner.
Stir the ingredients in a shaker filled with ice and then strain into a rocks glass with a large ice cube. The key to a perfect Negroni is to add an orange peel from a zesty orange.
Created, apparently at the Manhattan Club, in 1874, this cocktail is perfect for a stylish pregame with your buddies.
Instructions: In a shaker, stir the rye (you can use something like Bulleit), vermouth and bitters with cracked ice. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with your preference of either a lemon twist or a maraschino cherry.
The Classic Martini
A James Bond staple, but stirred, not shaken (because it may get too diluted), the classic Martini is, well, classy. Think Frank Sinatra.
How to make it:
Fill a cocktail shaker with cracked ice. Pour in the dry vermouth (try Noilly Prat, according to Esquire Magazine) and stir smoothly. Add the gin and stir again, briefly. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass, and garnish with an olive or a lemon twist.
The name “Old Fashioned” came in 1881, when a bartender at the Pendennis Club in Louisville, Kentucky made the drink as we know it today, to honor Colonel James E. Pepper, a prominent bourbon distiller, who eventually brought it to the Waldorf-Astoria Hotel bar in New York City.
Put the sugar cube in an Old Fashioned glass. Splash 2 or 3 dashes of Angostura bitters and some club soda on it, then crush the sugar with a muddler and stir softly. Add ice (preferably a large ice cube) and pour in the whiskey. I prefer mine with bourbon. Garnish with an orange peel or slice.
Gin and tonic
Maybe you’ll think this is not worthy of this list of cocktails and that everyone knows how to make a one. But don’t rush. I’m suggesting you to try my recipe of Gin&Tonic with a twist (and the twist is not citrusy).
Fill a highball glass with ice. Add the gin – I would suggest you use Hendrick’s. Gently rub the cucumber (I use two cucumber sticks, peeled off) on the rim of the glass before adding it. Top with tonic water and then add the blueberries (4-5 of them should be enough). Then stir gently.
Because a list of cocktails wouldn’t have been complete without a tequila based drink, right?
Make some quesadillas next to it and you’re good to go. Fiestaaaa!
The Margarita can be served in a regular cocktail glass, an old fashioned glass but the most authentic way is to serve it in the traditional margarita glass like the one pictured above.
Instructions: Fill a shaker with ice, then add all the ingredients (except for the salt, of course). Patrón Silver is my regular choice of tequila, but you can use Don Julio or Herradura as well. Shake hard for about 30 seconds. If you want to add the salt, put a fine layer of salt on a cutting board or a plate, rub a lime wedge around the outside of the rim of the glass and then roll the rim in salt. I prefer mine without it. Strain the mix into a glass and garnish with a lime wedge or a lime wheel.
Because it’s getting close to summer and I am very fond of my Cuban memories, here’s a recipe for the Mojito, as prepared by bartenders in Havana.
In a highball glass, muddle the lime juice with the sugar (some barmen were using more sugar, but I like it better when it’s not that sweet). Add the mint leaves and muddle again this time softer. Fill the glass 2/3 with cracked ice and pour the rum (my suggestion is Havana Club Añejo 3 Años, but unfortunately you won’t find it if you’re in the US). Top off with club soda, stir gently and garnish with a mint sprig or a lime wedge.
Well, this is it. I hope this is useful and you’ll make time to try these out.
In case you’re indulging, don’t do it until you forget that you should enjoy it responsibly!