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Cocktails for the boys

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Cocktails aren't just for the girls.

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:

Penicillin

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.

Ingredients:
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.

Caesar

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.

Ingredients:
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.

Boulevardier

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.

Ingredients:
30ml Quality straight bourbon whiskey
30ml Campari
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?

49 comments

  • If James Bond can drink a cocktail, well.. you can't get more manly than he.

    Commenter
    BB
    Location
    Sydney
    Date and time
    April 19, 2013, 2:10PM
    • Tarzan might disagree.He drank water.

      Commenter
      Kane
      Date and time
      April 19, 2013, 3:31PM
    • I've had the odd slippery nipple, but that's about it

      Commenter
      Gaz
      Location
      Yarrawonga
      Date and time
      April 19, 2013, 4:15PM
  • I'm a big fan of the Tequila Sour, with glass rimmed with a mix of chilli and sugar.

    Commenter
    Luke
    Location
    the Gong
    Date and time
    April 19, 2013, 2:17PM
    • Good ol fashioned long island ice tea never goes astray, all men should have a go to cocktail so you don't look like a fool in case you end up somewhere that doesn't have vb on tap.

      If it doesn't container an umbrella then it's fair game and remember one of the manliest blokes ever James Bond favourite drink was a cocktail

      Commenter
      Greg
      Location
      Melbourne
      Date and time
      April 19, 2013, 2:19PM
      • Friend, if you're older than nineteen and still drinking long island iced teas, you don't only look like a fool.

        Commenter
        joshgtv
        Location
        sydney
        Date and time
        April 19, 2013, 3:26PM
    • You're missing the point BH. I'd love to drink cocktails but on viewing the prices I default to less bar profit enhancing beverages. Seriously bars love cocktails. Upwards of $16 for a shot of spirit and some fruit n juice. Crazy. I just got back from overseas where cocktails are priced appropriatly. Funny thing - There were many men drinking them. Could we conclude anything from this?

      Commenter
      MarkB
      Location
      Sydney
      Date and time
      April 19, 2013, 2:25PM
      • ...are you saying we're all cheap!!! ;)

        Commenter
        Timothy
        Location
        Melbourne
        Date and time
        April 19, 2013, 2:32PM
      • You have a point, MarkB! I'm a cocktail-loving female but sometimes I wished I drank beer - just so I wouldn't have to spend so much money on one or two drinks. The returning trend of cider is helping, however.

        Commenter
        MissK
        Date and time
        April 19, 2013, 2:48PM
      • MarkB you must not work in a cocktail bar or frankly, any bar. 'Less bar profit enhancing beverages'? Thats ridiculous.

        A shot of spirit and some fruit and juice would barely be considered a cocktail. Most real cocktails have at least two shots of alcohol, not to mention require better glassware, different equipment and more time for the bartender to make. Most proper cocktail bars make barely a profit off their drinks. The prices are higher due to the need to pay for more staff hours, training and standards.

        Overseas, alcohol faces less tax. That is the biggest contributor in alcohol price today. We pay $40 for a bottle you can get in america for $10, and take into consideration that the US and Au dollars are almost equal.

        If you think men only drink cocktails overseas because they are cheaper, it simply means that you think men are cheap and you yourself are cheap. Like a good meal, you should expect to pay more for a good drink. They aren't all the same. Many are made with expensive, hard to acquire spirits which are sold at less than the margin of the beer or mixer you prefer to buy to ensure they are approachable by the public. This is why the bar industry (and i mean proper bars who make good, tasty drinks with care) struggles.

        I'm all for expressing opinion, but please actually know what you are talking about before you make such grand statements.

        Commenter
        MorganF
        Location
        Melbourne
        Date and time
        April 19, 2013, 2:53PM

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