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The best cocktails ever

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Margarita: one of the finest cocktails ever.

Margarita: one of the finest cocktails ever. Photo: Domino Postiglione

The mighty cocktail has survived the American Civil War, the temperance movement, Prohibition, and even disco.

Now it is about to celebrate its 206th birthday since the word was first defined in print on May 13, 1806. To celebrate let's take a look at few of the top tipples of the past 200 years:

Mint Julep

To be fair the Mint Julep pre-dates the existence of the word 'cocktail'. In fact, this delicious mix of American whiskey, sugar, mint and ice even predates the use of the very whiskey it now contains. Early juleps were fashioned by American colonists with brandy, rum or whatever spirit came to hand. This drink has proved a keeper though and can be ordered in any decent bar-room.

Ingredients:
90ml Straight bourbon whiskey or rye (Woodford Reserve makes a full-flavoured julep)
1 teaspoon castor sugar
Lots of mint
Crushed ice

Method: Load the bottom of a pewter tankard, glass or, if you're lucky enough to have one, a julep cup with fresh mint leaves. Add your sugar and gentle muddle with the mint. Pack your vessel with crushed ice and pour the whiskey over it. Stir vigorously add more crushed ice and garnish with at least three sprigs of mint.

Brandy Punch

Before the idea of a single-serve cocktail really took off punch was the king of drinks. Gentlemen would dutifully station themselves around an overflowing bowl of punch and not budge till they had drunk it dry or keeled over. This single serve punch was a revelation and comes from the first ever bartender's guide written in 1862. The drink is still a doozey.

Ingredients:

90ml VS cognac brandy (fine champagne cognac like Remy Martin works a treat)
30ml lemon juice
30ml still water
10ml real raspberry syrup
2 teaspoons castor sugar

Method: Combine all ingredients in a shaker and fill with ice. Shake briskly and strain into a tall ice filled tumbler. Garnish with orange slices, pineapple and raspberries.

Margarita

Prohibition banned the sale and supply of beverage alcohol to the American public for 13 years from 1920 to 1933. It led to the rise of the 'speakeasy' bar, organised crime, and normalised the fairer sex being allowed into bars. It also encouraged Americans to travel – and wherever they went the brought the local tipple back with them. Tequila went from an obscure local Mexican tipple to a global bar staple thanks to Prohibition and this mighty tasty classic.

Ingredients:
50ml 100% puro de agave tequila
15ml Triple sec (Cointreau is a leading brand)
5ml sugar syrup
20ml freshly squeezed lime juice

Add all ingredients to an iced shaker. Shake briskly and strain into a chilled cocktail glass rimmed with a little lime and flaky sea salt.

Japanese Slipper

This neon combination of Midori, Cointreau and lemon took the world by storm when it was first mixed up in 1984. It wasn't created in the nightclubs of London, Manhattan or gay old Paris, however. Rather it was a Melbourne bartender by the name of Jean-Paul Bourguignon who we can thank for this creation. It's as retro as Tom Cruise in the movie Cocktail, and hardly the most macho drink going around, but it's a pretty safe bet that if a bar stocks a bottle of Midori they know how to whip this one up. Just don't tell too many people how much you enjoy it.

Ingredients:
30ml Midori
30ml Cointreau
30ml Lemon juice

Method: Add all ingredients to an iced shaker. Shake briskly and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a cocktail cherry or a slice of honeydew melon.

Pharmaceutical Stimulant (aka Espresso Martini)

In the fast paced life of the '80s a strange new stimulant known as x-presso starting popping up in bars and coffee shops in London. In 1984 an inspired barkeep, by the name of Dick Bradsell, who worked at Soho's infamous Fred's Bar decided to throw it in a cocktail. Now commonly known as the Espresso Martini this beverage remains most of most popular going tipples going around almost 30 years on.

Ingredients:
50ml vodka
15ml coffee liqueur (like Kahlua or Toussaint)
5ml sugar syrup
30ml shot of fresh espresso

Method: Add all ingredients to a shaker, ice then shake to the 1984 Michael Jackson hit Thriller. Garnish with three coffee beans.

Where to celebrate World Cocktail Week

Sydney: The city's big players Merivale and Keystone Hospitality have a host of events over the month of May. Top picks are the World Bar Chat Championships on May 6 at theloft and Vintage Cocktail Night at ivy den on May 15.

Melbourne: Exhibition Street's 1806 is named after the year the cocktail was first defined in print. The place is living shrine to the cocktail and they hold regular cocktail making events including Deconstructing Cocktails this Sunday. Lui Bar on the 55th floor of the Rialto Towers is launching a Cocktail Masterclass on May 9 with cocktails matched to Vue Du Monde's spectacular food creations.

9 comments so far

  • A Whiskey Sour or one of the many variants of should also be included in this. However, i would be just as happy sitting down with a Japanese Slipper or Margarita.

    For a nice change to either, make up some lemon or lime salt by zesting the fruit into a container of salt and leaving for a few days. Magic.

    Commenter
    Bippo
    Date and time
    May 04, 2012, 12:15PM
    • Was in California last month and would have moved there for the Margharita's alone! Cheap and fantastic. Agave in particular.

      Locally the Negroni's at 10 William St in Paddington are the best I've had anywhere... and I've had a few.

      Just my opinion but Espresso Martinis are rubbish. If you're having a cocktail it should at least task like alcohol. Otherwise you're just drinking to get drunk.

      Commenter
      NB
      Date and time
      May 04, 2012, 2:27PM
      • Don't get me wrong, I love a good cocktail more than the next person - in fact I am a fairly good self-taught cocktail chef however can't we have an article written for the Australian audience? The opening sentence "The mighty cocktail has survived the American Civil War, the temperance movement, Prohibition...." simply puts me off the entire article. I am an Australian reading an Australian newspaper. Why Simon starts off with the American civil war and prohibition is beyond comprehension.

        Commenter
        kangavik
        Location
        Bondi
        Date and time
        May 04, 2012, 2:48PM
        • Mai Tai anyone?
          Martini perhaps?
          Maybe a Grasshoper?
          Bloody Mary?
          Make mine a Banana Daiquiri, or maybe strawberry, heck why not mango?

          Commenter
          LRC78
          Location
          Casino
          Date and time
          May 04, 2012, 10:14PM
          • A real margarita is 3 equal parts of Tequila, Cointreau and Limon (lee-mon) juice, as you can't get this in Aus use a mixture of lemon and lime juice. No sugar syrup.

            Try a real Mojito

            60ml Bacadi rum
            12 mint leaves
            1 whole lime cut into 8 pieces
            1-2 teaspoons brown sugar
            Soda water

            In a cocktail shaker muddle the lime,mint,sugar together add Bacadi and some ice cubes shake. Pour into tall glass and top glass up with soda

            Commenter
            MOJO
            Location
            CA
            Date and time
            May 05, 2012, 3:12PM
            • I like to invent cocktails. My favourite is the Bludinyoorhyne... equal parts chilled limoncello and strawberry liqueur (plain lemonade like Sprite can be used to weaken it if desired). If serving over ice only use a little..

              Commenter
              Kurmudgeon
              Date and time
              May 05, 2012, 4:19PM
              • My favourite - Cocos Cocktail

                Dry martini base and mix equal amounts of Galliano and Blue Curacao. This was a great hit on Cocos (Keeling) Islands when I lived there some years ago. Sit outside and try and match the colours of the lagoon.

                By the time you have got that right, who cares ;-)

                And interesting one I heard on the ABC a week ago. Apparently drunk by a Major of an English Regiment station in Tasmania sometime in the 1800s.

                Called - Blow my skull off
                although quantities weren't given it consisted of Rum, Brandy, Beer and sugar.

                I'm off to get some Rum and Brandy ;-)

                Commenter
                DenisPC9
                Location
                New England Region
                Date and time
                May 06, 2012, 7:41AM
                • Manhattan - serious cocktail. But make sure they use Canadian Club!

                  Commenter
                  Tebinium
                  Location
                  ACt
                  Date and time
                  May 07, 2012, 4:02PM
                  • No Manhattan? No Old Fashioned? No Mai Tai? No Daquiri?

                    There's a drink with Midori in it????

                    I know it's a matter of taste but this is what is wrong with most of the cocktail scene in Sydney - it's stuck in the Eighties.

                    Get along to Baxter Inn or maybe Shady Pines Saloon and drink a real cocktail. Alternatively hang your head in shame and head down to Melbourne. (yeah I said it - and I choked on every keystroke)

                    Commenter
                    James
                    Location
                    Sydney
                    Date and time
                    May 07, 2012, 5:37PM

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