Six Best Classic Cocktails: How to Do it Right Every Time

June 15, 2012 4:24 PM EDT | By Staff Writer
Martini
Martinis so good, your boss'll give you a raise. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

Whether you're entertaining five very thirsty friends or just one convivial fellow, we're arming you with six recipes for classic cocktails that show you what you've been doing wrong with your alcohol each time.

Protip: Don't put your alcohol in the freezer!

It isn't college anymore (or maybe it is? what's up, youth demographic?), so there's no reason you should be keeping a handle of anything in your freezer unless you're planning on doing shots. And since there's no reason an adult should be doing shots in hir own home, let's go ahead and give you the green light to store the alcohol at room temperature, preferably somewhere in the house that shows off your extensive library.

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Why? It's simple: the secret to a delicious cocktail is the perfect amount of water. And the perfect amount of water comes from letting room temperature alcohol melt some off from ice cubes. That's it. No need to measure a tablespoon of cold water out. It's really that simple.

So for all of these cocktails, start by pouring your base liquor ingredients over your ice cubes in your shaker and counting to forty-five. Once you hit forty-five, add the colder ingredients (such as soda, seltzer, tonic water, etc.) if you're using them.

It's that easy, and you can really taste the difference. It'll be the same amount of alcohol you always use, but it won't make you wince with its cloying afterburn.

Oh, and if you don't have a cocktail shaker, put a solo cup over a glass and do it that way.

1. The Martini, or, The Executive Assistant

Ah, the capitalist's favorite lunchtime hobby. The only thing you need to know about a martini, gin or vodka, is that the standard ratio for it is 5 parts gin/vodka to 1 part dry vermouth. Don't use a cheap liquor here, as there's really no mixer. The martini is all about enjoying the fine taste of alcohol, so make sure that it's something you can enjoy, and not something you'd mix with too much fruit juice.

Combine your alcohols over ice. Wait. Add a tablespoon of green olive juice. Wait. Shake it up. Serve neat in a martini glass.

2. The Negroni, or, The Italian Twilight

This is, by far, my favorite cocktail. The legend goes that it was devised by Count Negroni, a rich Italian lush who wanted to find a way to make gin more alcoholic. The end result is an herbal, fruity drink that won't compromise your masculinity: its robust base flavor, and post-imbibing drunk, make even the most seasoned scotch drinkers reconsider their liquor stock.

Shake up, in equal parts, sweet vermouth, gin, and campari. Pour and garnish with orange.

3. Fernet and Coke

Fernet-Branca is basically my medicine. It's an herbal liqeur that's been used by Italians to cure post-pasta indigestion for centuries. For someone with a stomach as sensitive as mine, it's nothing short of a miracle: a shot of it after a meal staves away any painful rumblings.

It's a strong and strange taste, like chomping right into a Fisherman's Friend cough drop, and when I'm not in the mood to take it to the face, i enjoy it this way:

Add 2 parts Fernet to ice. Wait. Swirl. Add three parts cola. Wait. Swirl. Enjoy.

4. Whiskey Sour

Again, the secret to a whiskey sour is letting the whiskey and the water work their magic in the very beginning. This'll put hair on even your grandmother's chest, which is maybe why they're always reaching for it.

Shake up: five parts whiskey, one part lemon juice, one part sugar, and an egg white. Serve neat, garnished with orange and a maraschino cherry.

5. The Margarita

If you're just hanging out with some friends, this is the drink of choice. Tequila's cheap, and a little bit goes a long way: especially if you do it this way.

Remember this ratio, as it couldn't be easier: 3-2-1. 3 parts tequila, 2 parts triple sec , 1 part lime juice. Shake them up and serve them over ice.

6. The Jalapeno Margarita

Okay, so this is by no means a classic drink, but it's starting to show up on the menu of just about every place that serves up margaritas. Most of these places rely on tequila that is already jalapeno-infused, and that can get pretty disgusting. Too bad infusing can take months, otherwise you'd do it yourself.

So what's the trick to this: make a spicy simple syrup by combining equal parts water and sugar in a sauce pan. Chop up some fresh jalapeno and put it, seeds and all, into the syrup as it cooks. Taste. Spicy and sweet, right?

Now you can regulate just how much goes into your margarita, giving it the perfect kick every time.

Enjoy!



 

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