Classic Cocktails & their heyday

14 May 2014

Since 1862 when the first ever bartenders guide was published, we’ve been loving our cocktails. Unlike us, our grandparents kept it quite simple. Usually booze mixed with other booze, perhaps garnished with ONE piece of fruit.

'Old mans drinks' they may be, but I believe there really is something to be said for the simple. However, vintage cocktails are seemingly shunned today in favour of newbies such as Sex on the Beach, Strawberry Daiquiri’s and Cosmopolitan’s.

Now don't get me wrong, I love the violet-flavoured-martini-in-a-giant-peanut-sauce-rimmed-glass as much as the next girl, but this year, for me, it's less about synthetic sweetness and more about the return of the classic, statement cocktail - the cocktails which have stood the test of time and remained firm favourites.

Here are the ones to watch out for and the modern twist our fabulous mixologists have created:

French 75

This beauty, and Kate Moss favourite, was created in 1915 at the New York Bar in Paris by famed barman Harry MacElhone – the very Harry that all of the bars are named after – the combination was designed with such a kick that it felt like being pelted with a French field gun, and so came the name. Made with gin, lemon juice, sugar and champagne, this classy cocktail is simple and delicious. Opt for a noughties twist with the Wild Meadow available at Grace Bar. Infused with Beefeater gin, nettle cordial, cloudy apple juice and lemon, this is a refreshing choice. The drink was popularised throughout the 20th century at the Stork Club in New York before fading out somewhat in the seventies, perhaps the yuppies couldn’t take the hangover.

Straits Sling

An exact date of origin for this sweet little number is not known with a development date guessed somewhere before 1915 and accredited to Ngiam Tong Boon, a Hainanese bartender working at the Long Bar in Raffles, Singapore. It was initially called the gin sling but its popularity with expats across the globe saw it referred to by its country of origin. This tropical drink is best sipped on an exotic beach. However, if you find yourself in London, head to Jewel Bar Covent Garden for their Sipsmith Smash, whose ingredients include Sipsmith gin, muddled mint, ruby grapes, fresh lemon, apple juice and elderflower. The sling was popular in the 20’s and 30’s but largely died out with colonialism and is now rarely seen on menus unless you are traveling to an old outpost of the long forgotten empire, but it certainly still has a kick.

Old Fashioned

Don Draper’s choice of drink, this cocktail is suave, sophisticated and illicit. The cocktail is thought to have originated in Louisville, Kentucky where Bourbon Whiskey is often referred to as ‘Old Fashioned’. Credited to a bar tender in the Pendennis gentlemen’s club that was founded in 1881 the cocktail was supposedly designed for Colonel James E. Pepper who went on to buy the Waldorf Astoria. The final season of Mad Men has seen a sharp rise in popularity of the Old Fashioned and Core Bar’s version will instantly transform you back to New York in the 60s. Made from Buffalo Trace, bitters and sugar cubes, this drink will never go out of fashion.

The Manhattan

Popularly this cocktail is thought to have originated from the Manhattan Club in the early 1870’s where it was invented by a Doctor for a banquet hosted by Lady Randolph Churchill, the big man’s mother. The success of the banquet led to the success of the drink always referred to by the club in which it was created. Favoured by royals and television characters alike this is the ultimate classic cocktail, this is easy, classy drinking thanks to the Buffalo Trace, Martini Rosso and bitters, which are incorporated into this signature tipple. Head to Foundation Bar in Covent Garden to try this divine cocktail. It is very chic.

If you, like moi, is a bona fide cocktail lover, do not miss the opportunity to join Core's Cocktail Club. Find out more here.

Ellen Modin

Ellen Modin