Cocktails aren't just for the girls.
I'm always perplexed by gentlemen who don't drink cocktails on an assumption that this breed of potent potable belongs solely to the fairer sex. Historically it's worth noting that the opposite is true. The 19th century American saloon that gave rise to the cocktail was a totally male domain.
Closer to home, it wasn't until six o'clock closing was enforced during World War I that women were readily allowed to co-mingle with men in the bar room. And even then it didn't happen legally – public bars in hotels were still sexually segregated – it was the sly grog shops that were a little more liberal.
Even with Australia's relatively short history, its safe to say the odd cocktail would have been consumed in bars for almost 100 years before women were commonplace in that environment.
If history won't convince you, however, there are drinks that will. I'm talking about macho cocktails. Not the fluffy pink fruity sippers, but rather, put-hair-on-your-chest thirst crushers. Here is my selection of three manly mixers:
It was Scottish scientist Alexander Fleming who first discovered penicillin, so it's appropriate that this curative tipple boasts a liberal dose of Scotch whisky. The drink was invented by one of Australia's most famous bartending exports, Sam Ross, who manned the bar at Manhattan's famous Milk & Honey cocktail bar where he came up with this mix that's "good for what ails you".
The joint, now owned by Ross and business partner Michael McIlroy, has a new name – Attaboy – but this cocktail combining Scotch with lemon, honey and ginger remains unchanged.
60ml blended Scotch whisky
20ml lemon juice
20ml honey & ginger syrup*
10ml of peaty Islay Scotch
Method: Add the first three ingredients to a shaker and fill with ice. Shake, and strain into a rocks glass filled with fresh ice. Float the Islay Scotch on top of the drink. Garnish with a piece of candied ginger.
*Finely grate a large piece of ginger and squeeze to extract juice. Add one part of juice to two parts of honey and stir to combine the mixture.
Bloody Marys are savoury and kind of manly too, so what could make one even more macho? Well, an answer came from Walter Chell, the Canadian restaurant manager who invented the Caesar in 1969 for Calgary Inn in Calgary, Alberta.
Chell was tasked with coming up with a signature drink for the new Italian restaurant at the hotel and he did it by taking a Bloody Mary and adding clam juice. Chell got his clam "nectar" from the kitchen of the restaurant, which had spaghetti alle vongole on the menu. These days there's a commercially available option - Clamato juice. The Caesar is a popular mix in Canada and the US.
50ml London dry gin
10ml fresh lemon juice
20ml fresh clam broth
100ml tomato juice
4 dashes Worcestershire sauce
4 dashes Tabasco sauce
Celery salt & black pepper to taste
Method: Combine all ingredients in a tall glass. Check seasoning, add ice and garnish with a celery stick and a lemon wedge. For an Aussie touch, a grilled king prawn latched onto the glass wouldn't go amiss.
A boulevardier is a Parisian term for a bon vivant – a 'sport' – the sort of gentleman found frequenting saloons, placing large wagers on boxing matches and horse races and the sort of toff who might be found drinking this cocktail.
The drink was first recorded in a cocktail book called Barflies and Cocktails in 1927 by a chap called Harry MacElhone, owner and namesake of the famous Harry's Bar in Paris. MacElhone credited the drink to a wealthy young American called Erskine Gwynne, who moved to Paris to start a literary magazine called The Boulevardier.
Gwynne's magazine and other English language pamphlets like it provided early forum to writers like Ernest Hemingway, Noël Coward, Thomas Wolfe and others. The magazine didn't make it, but the cocktail is worth a whirl.
30ml Quality straight bourbon whiskey
30ml sweet vermouth
Method: Combine all ingredients in a shaker or mixing glass. Fill with ice and stir. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a swath or orange peel.
What's your opinion? Do real men drink cocktails?