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!



Published by Gregor

Just an aging graybeard biker who loves food & drink and isn't afraid to show it.

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