Cocktails have been enjoyed for more than 200 years. Throughout that time just the word cocktail conjured up different things for different people.
Today everything old is new again.
Just as there is more of an emphasis on organic produce and craving for comfort food, in the realm of libations there is a newfound appreciation for the classics. Today many bartenders are using timeless drinks to launch newer versions.
Stirred, shaken, neat, on the rocks, straight up or dirty, perhaps the most hotly debated cocktail is the tried and true martini. Purists staunchly support the thinking that there is no martini made properly without gin. For the iconic nightlife drink there are many other options and opportunities – shaken or stiffed? Vermouth or not? Olive or twist?
Cocktails have also closely changed to reflect and influence American trends and traditions.
Polynesian-inspired cocktails brought a sense of adventure to 1930s, found in tiki bars serving pu pu platters. Some say Don the Beachcomber created the potent rum and fruit juice blend, the mai tai, in Hollywood. Others challenge that Victor Bergeron introduced the drink in San Francisco at his Trader Vic’s restaurant.
One thing is for certain: Don surely blended the first Zombie cocktail. A knockoff of that drink was served at the 1939 World’s Fair in New York.
Post World War II, Americans were cautions about the Soviet Russia danger. While vodka, strongly associated with the “reds,” should have suffered in sales, it’s so mixable, its popularity soared. The Moscow Mule was born. Crafty bartenders blended the bejeebies out of vodka, taking 40,000 cases sold in 1950 to 4.5 million in 1955.
Bloody Marys, Cuba Libres, Manhattans, daiquiris and Tom Collins’ flowed at the 1950s cocktail party. Paired with a bite-sized morsel on the side, it became an elegant rage.
Cocktails are also infused with pop culture, becoming famous alongside the men and women who drnk them.
The Dude, from the cult movie “The Big Lebowiski,” drank a steady stream of White Russians. Truman Capote always seemed to always have his trusted martini. Who can think of a Stinger without visioning Katharine Hepburn in “The Philadelphia Story?”
One thing is for sure: Classic cocktails can transport you to different times and places.
Martini, daiquiri or Tom Collins, what ’60s beverage is your go-to drink when ordering up a hand crafted cocktail?
I like apple martinis. It was actually a punk rocker in a mesh shirt and spiked dyed hair with piercings all over who bought me my first one, and they are awesome!
Piña coladas and pineapple mojitos make me think of sunny vacations and summer.
Lemon Drops are the best, especially when the glass rim has sugar on it. It makes for a sweet pucker. The best ones I have found are at the Majestic Cafe in Everett.
As the weather warms up I want a refreshing cocktail. The ones with lots of mint hit the spot. Mojitos hit the spot and come in lots of different flavors — lemonade, berry, apple.