Shaken, sometimes stirred

Don’t know your Bosom Caresser from your Bee’s Knees? Christopher Hirst’s weekly guide to classic cocktails will guide you through the gamut of gargles.
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23 April 2017

The Bee’s Knees

Shaken, Sometimes Stirred

As an expression of approbation, Bee’s Knees dates from the early Twenties and the eponymous drink came soon after. Honey was among myriad additives utilised to disguise the rotgut gin of Prohibition. On page 23 of his magisterial volume The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks, David A Embury describes the early version of Bee Knees […]

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23 December 2016

Eggnog – a cracking drink for New Year parties

Shaken, Sometimes Stirred

That party drink you see being ladled out in old black and white American films  as winter snow falls silently outside is more likely to be eggnog than punch. As David A Embury points out in his classic manual The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks (1948): ‘It is the traditional drink of the holiday season […]

 
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16 December 2016

The Cosmonaut

Shaken, Sometimes Stirred

From Regarding Cocktails by Sasha Petraske (Phaidon, £19.95), this simplest of cocktails demonstrates the merits of flavour-imbued gin over the tabula rasa of vodka. The name was intended as ‘a jab’ at the now passé Cosmopolitan, an unrewarding mix of cranberry and vodka. Despite the singular inclusion of raspberry jam, the result is complex and […]

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9 November 2016

The Whiskey Sour

Shaken, Sometimes Stirred

One of the great classics, this is the first drink I order whenever I arrive Stateside. It’s the taste of the city, best consumed in Bar 65 at the Rainbow Room, high atop (as they say) New York’s soaring Rockefeller Center, but I have been disappointed elsewhere. Once at JFK airport, my request prompted a […]

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19 October 2016

The Fallen Leaves

Shaken, Sometimes Stirred

Befitting the hazy, illusory world of cocktails, the book American Bar by Charles Schumann (described by its publisher as ‘the most authoritative cocktail book ever published’) has scant association with America. Mr Schumann’s bar is in Munich and his guide was originally written in German. However, it is one of few bar books to venture […]

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22 September 2016

The Sidecar

Shaken, Sometimes Stirred

The Sidecar is one of the very few good things to emerge from the First World War. In his seminal 1948 work The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks, David A Embury writes that it was invented in Paris by a friend of his, a military officer who was carried ‘to and from the little bistro […]

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12 September 2016

The Bramble

Shaken, Sometimes Stirred

by Christopher Hirst A drink in the great British tradition of heftily potent fruit liqueurs, the Bramble was invented in the Nineties by the late Dick Bradsell, a star mixologist if ever there was one. In its original formulation, the Bramble incorporates creme de mure (blackberry liqueur), the somewhat sweeter sister of creme de cassis […]

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27 August 2016

The Bloody Maria

Shaken, Sometimes Stirred

Christopher Hirst tries a Bloody Mary variant that works better than the original Hard-core Bloody Mary fans may shudder but by substituting tequila for vodka, you end up with a more interesting drink. The Bloody Maria is close to Sangrita, the two-glass cocktail that is the preferred way of consuming tequila in Mexico. In one […]

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15 August 2016

Blood and Sand: Scotch-based classic

Shaken, Sometimes Stirred

If you’re looking for a drink to toast the Edinburgh Festival (the thinnest excuse will suffice for the dedicated cocktail enthusiast) how about this Scotch-based classic with artistic associations? Invented for the premiere of a Rudolph Valentino weepie of 1922, Blood and Sand suggests the Sahara but we should really be thinking of Seville. In […]

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6 August 2016

The Caipirinha: spirit of Olympia

Shaken, Sometimes Stirred

To enhance the pleasure – or, possibly, mitigate the boredom – of the 2016 Olympics, there is no more appropriate accompaniment than the Caipirinha. You can rest assured that many in the host nation will be raising a glass of the same stimulant. The active ingredient in the caipirinha is cachaça, a sugar cane spirit […]

A simple Manhattan variant, made with 2 parts scotch to 1 part sweet vermouth, with a dash or two of orange bitters. 

There is a lot I like about this, but the reflections really annoy me. Time to go back to my copy of "Light: Science & Magic" for a refresher on lighting glass.
1 July 2016

The Manhattan

Shaken, Sometimes Stirred

  Let’s toast the Fourth of July with one of the greats. Some say it is the greatest. ‘I think the Manhattan is the best cocktail on earth,’ writes Gary Regan in his authoritative guide The Joy of Mixology. The drink is customarily dated to 1874, when it was created by a barman at the […]

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25 June 2016

The Last Word

Shaken, Sometimes Stirred

Given the intoxicating nature of the subject, it seems appropriate to start a cocktail column with the Last Word. Invented in the Twenties at the Detroit Athletic Club (which sounds my kind of sports facility), it is one of the greatest bittersweet cocktails. When I ordered one at Untitled, the restaurant of the Whitney Museum […]

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5 May 2016

The Mojito

Shaken, Sometimes Stirred

Once the cocktail de choix in the hippest bars, the mojito has slipped in favour but when I took my first sip in maybe a decade I was reminded what a sublime refresher this is. Apart from the Mojito’s undoubted Cuban origins, sometime towards the end of the 19th century, much about the drink is […]