Martini-cocktail-001    This afternoon to my surprise I received a text from Nephew #1. I don’t think he has ever done so. He texts back whenever I text him and he sometimes joins in when Spos get into one of their group discussions but today is his first spontaneous text to Urs Truly.  This is what he wrote:

Heya Uncle Spo, I was reading over the recipes for the drinks I should know how to make, and I found I’m missing a few! I’ve go Dry Martini, Dry Rob Roy, Manhattan, and High Baller (sic). Which ones am I missing? 

I wasn’t aware Nephew #1 drank (Brother #2 tells me he’s shown no interest to do so, even into his college years). I wondered why he was asking me out of all his uncles but it makes sense the queer ‘fun’ uncle knows how to work a shaker.  Here’s what I am sending the lad:

My dearest nephew,

You are correct in thinking one of the signs of a proper gentleman is his knowledge how to make an assortment of cocktails. A host should have the ability to makes several ‘classics’ upon request and make them well. 

I am pleased as punch you have asked me and I am happy to instruct you in the mysteries of the composition of libations. How sensible of you to ask me of all your uncles as they are utterly useless: Uncle William drinks only scotch while Uncle Jeffery goes for cheap beer and stuff (oh the embarrassment!).  Here are nine classic cocktails you should know:

1 – Dry Martini – It is best to have a few quality gins on hand – no rubbish!  I can give you a few names if you like. Ask your guest what sort of gin they prefer and do they like dry or extra dry. Forget James Bond! a proper martini should be made in a pitcher not a shaker, with plenty of ice and stirred not shaken. Shaking is for fruity and effervescent drinks. Strain the gin/vermouth into a chilled martini glass. Ask if they want an olive or a lemon twist and then don’t do much of either. Uncle says too many olives take up too much room in such a little glass. 

2 – Manhattan – the king of whisky/bourbon cocktails. The booze can be whiskey, rye, or bourbon. The bitters vary to taste so have a few types on hand.  Now – this is what separates the men for the boys – know the difference between a dry and a sweet manhattan. Ask your guest which type they prefer. A dry manhattan is made with dry vermouth and a lemon twist. A sweet manhattan is made with sweet vermouth and a luxardo cherry. Never use maraschino cherries – do not dare to question this.  Either type can be made ‘neat’ by mixing the ingredients in a glass and stirring (again no shaking nonsense) and straining – or they can  be made ‘on the rocks’.  If you do make it on the rocks, use one large square ice cube not a bunch of small ones. A large cube cools the drink with less dilution. 

3- Rob Roy  – There are not many who know or drink Dry Rob Roys, which is a pity as they are/were quite the gentleman’s drink. Hopefully they make a comeback. 

4- Cosmopolitan  this dignified drink has been dragged down to cheap party stuff levels, but you should keep it classy. A proper cosmo is not red but slightly pink. Many are made looking like Kool-aid in which some vodka happened to fall into it. 

5- High Ball – For these it is good to have a variety of decent whiskies on hand – just don’t use the expensive stuff lest you cast pearls before swine.

6- Daiquiri – is another drink that when made proper is marvelous. The ersatz daiquiri made with acid green mixer in large plastic jugs is right out.  Find a recipe that uses real lime juice or don’t bother. This one is made in a shaker with ice. 

7- Negroni  Oh the bliss!  1/3 part campari, 1/3 gin (no rubbish), 1/3 sweet vermouth stirred and strained. serve with an orange peel. So simple but so tasty and oh so masculine.

8 – Gin and Tonic – What separates the men from the boys (or the Brits from the Yanks) on this classic drink is the use of real tonic and not the cheap stuff poured from yellow plastic screw top containers.  When you taste real tonic there is no going back.   

finally – 

9 – “Your own” Find a cocktail (or make one of your own) that is uncommon guaranteed people have not heard of it. It is the sort of cocktail that gets the ‘What’s that?” response when you propose making one.  This takes some experimentation; you want one that people are going to remember you by. “Oh Mitch, last time you made that marvelous (fill in the blank) can we have it again?”  

For example, your marvelous Uncle’s signature cocktail is “Windex” which is made using  a variety of liquors with blue curaçao, mixed with 7-up and a touch of sour mix, and topped with a lemon slice. 🙂 

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