Cocktail Hour

Okay, we’ve been hitting the food end of things pretty good, so I think now would be a good time to go into something a bit more spirited. Queue up some of “The Chairman” in iTunes, dim the lights a bit, and pass the martini shaker… It’s Cocktail Hour kids!

First and foremost, what I’m talking about here is a true retro cocktail party. Classy, refined, full of good conversation, food, drink and company. I am NOT talking about filling a garbage can with fruit punch and pouring whatever someone brings into it. Although, that has it’s place. (coughs) No, I’m talking the throw-back cocktail party. Back to the birth of cool. Sinatra, Miles Davis, Beatnik Poetry, Audrey Hepburn ( oh yeah, the cabaret scene in Funny Face). Dean Martin, and the Martini. Cool man, real cool.


We need to stock our bar, after all this is a cocktail party. Just the basics here, Gin, Vodka ( not flavored), Bourbon, Tequila, Rum and Canadian Whisky. Mixers: club soda, tonic water, Cola, Lemon-lime soda, orange juice, Rose’s Lime juice, bitters, simple syrup and sweet and dry vermouth. Garnishes: maraschino cherries, olives (stuffed with pimentos), cocktail onions, oranges, lemons and limes.


Martini: There are only 2 martini’s at this party, sorry Apple-tini lovers, but this is a retro cocktail party. We offer a martini, or a vodka martini. You can order these dry, and with your favorite garnish. We do not shake a martini here. Shaking causes the gin or vodka to bruise and become cloudy. What we do is take a classic martini glass and put it in the freezer. In a cocktail shaker we put a good handful of ice and add a splash of dry vermouth. Drain off the vermouth and add 2-3 ounces of gin/vodka. Stir, allowing the gin to get ice cold. Strain off into the chilled martini glass and add an onion, olive or twist of lemon, as preferred.

Gimlet: Classic from across the pond. 2 ounces of gin, splash of Rose’s Lime juice, 4 ounces tonic water. Put all into a shaker with ice, stir as with the martini, then strain into a cocktail glass. Use a lime wedge for garnish.

Manhattan: Story goes this drink was invented for Winston Churchill’s mother while she was back visiting her Brooklyn birthplace. In a shaker add a good handful of ice, 2 ounces Canadian whisky, about an ounce of sweet vermouth, 3-4 dashes of bitters. I like to also add just a small dash of maraschino syrup, but you can omit. Shake this one well, then strain into a cocktail glass, or over ice in a low ball glass. Add a cherry and thank Winston’s mum.

Old Fashioned: To an old-fashioned glass, add 3 dashes of bitters, a splash of water and a sugar cube. Muddle them together then fill the glass with ice. Add 3 ounces of bourbon, and garnish with an orange and cherry. Serve with a swizzle stick so your quest can get just the right amount of sweetness.

Okay, these are just 4 to get you started. Many more are out there, but if you keep these 4 at hand, you can usually offer at least one as a suggestion when asked. Keep in mind you will get asked for a Screwdriver, Bourbon and water, etc. No need to go over those.

There you go. Retro-cool cocktails. Next post will be about what food to serve with the drinks. As a rule of thumb, never have a cocktail party without at least 1 or 2 hors d’ oeurves. Otherwise your guests will end up drinking all your booze and sleeping in your bathtub. Not that that’s ever…I mean….til next time!



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