Have you ever had a drink that took you back to another place and time? I think we all have. But have you ever been transported to a place that you have never been? No? Well, get ready to travel around the world in a glass. It’s time to discover a bunch of fun facts about some classic cocktails.
Ever wondered why cocktails can give you a feeling you can’t just get from a beer – and I am not talking about the boost you would feel after your first Long Island Iced Tea. Like food and culture, cocktails too have earned their place in many countries’ history. Learn the meaning and incredible stories behind them.
Here’s a list of cocktails that are iconic and synonymous with the cities and countries they represent. If you want to form a special bond with your favourite cocktail, learn a little bit about their background first, then head to the country it originated for a drink.
ITALY: Americano and Negroni
The Negroni Cocktail originated at Cafè Casino in Florence, Italy, in 1919. Its precursor, the Americano, was popular half a century earlier. Americano was first served in the 1860s at Gaspare Campari in Milan, Italy. Although there are many versions about the origin of the name, the most accepted one states that the Americano was named as such because of the drink’s popularity among American tourists.
When the weather is hot, and you’re seeking a refreshing drink, then the Americano is definitely your best sipper. It’s quite literally, the original summer spritz! The bitter and herbal taste of the Campari is balanced by the sweetness of the Vermouth. Adding a splash of soda water will give your taste buds a crisp, full flavour.
On the other hand, the Negroni is one of the most popular drinks around the world, and for good reason. It’s considered the most balanced of all cocktails. Perhaps not even Count Camillo Negroni knew what to expect when he asked bartender Forsco Scarselli to strengthen his favourite Americano cocktail by replacing the club soda with gin.
Ernest Hemingway is not the only writer to have a cocktail named in his honour. The Boulevardier was a signature drink of Erskine Gwynne, an American-born writer who founded a monthly magazine in Paris in the late 1920s. The name of the magazine was “The Boulevardier”.
While an Americano or Negroni is perfect for a summer’s day, this French variation is what you’ll need in autumn or winter to warm your soul. Picture having that herbal and sweet balance; now replace the gin with a full rich and robust whisky. That’s the magic of the Boulevardier, sometimes referred to as the whisky lovers Negroni.
While traditional Boulevardiers are served with sweet bourbon, if you feel like you need an extra tingle on the tongue, use a spicier rye whisky to give it a little pep.
The French do know how to turn a classic into a masterpiece.
NEW YORK: Martini and Tom Collins
There are so many variations of Martinis nowadays, but nothing beats a well-made, classic Martini to lift your spirits.
The first martini is said to be consumed in the late 19th century, in New York’s Knickerbocker Hotel. While most think of James Bond asking for a Vodka Martini “shaken not stirred,” the original was made with gin. Something else 007 didn’t quite get right is the technique. Stirring instead of shaking will ensure that your martini stays nice and clear, not to mention that shaking can over dilute spirituous drinks. If you want to make it “dirty,” then add some olive brine into the mix, but still stir.
How does a nice cold glass of lemonade sound? How about one with a kick? That is what you get in a Tom Collins. This 130-year-old classic cocktail was first mentioned by Jerry Thomas, “the father of American mixology,” in his Bar-Tender’s Guide. Following the Tom Collins Hoax in 1874, where people started joking with their friends and asking them if they had seen Tom Collins because he was insulting them, the Tom Collins drink became widely popular and served in bars in New York City and across the country. .
CALIFORNIA: Zombie and Margarita
The Zombie is a cocktail that should come with a warning label. What might seem like a harmless fruit punch is definitely not! This powerfully alcoholic, fruity concoction can sneak up on you – with three types of rum, including a 151-proof (75% Alcohol By Volume or ABV) topper, disguised by a variety of fruit juices and a dash of bitter. It will go down fast, but drink too many and you’ll end up “The Walking Dead”, hence where the Zombie got its name. Most bars have a one Zombie only policy.
Almost everyone has heard of a Margarita! Tequila, lime, and Cointreau, presented in a glass with a rim of salt. You can order or make it yourself in two different ways – on the rocks or frozen. While it’s great to kick back and sip a frozen Margarita beside a pool, having one on the rocks will give you more of the tequila flavour.
Like so many classic cocktails, the Margarita has evolved and the cocktail now comes in a wide range of fruit flavours, but the classic lime must be the first one you try.
Although there are many stories about the origin, the most prevalent one is that a bartender named Carlos “Danny” Herrera was the first to make Margarita in 1938. Carlos had a restaurant in Tijuana called “Rancho La Gloria.” One day, he combined the ingredients of a traditional shot – tequila, salt and lime. The customer was pleased with his refreshing drink.
Possibly the best thing to ever come out of Cuba, the Mojito is one of the most refreshing cocktails you can ever find. The lightness of the white rum combined with freshly squeezed lime and crushed mint make you smile just thinking about one.
There are many theories behind the origin of the name. One says that local South Americans went to Cuba’s shores to search for remedies to tropical illnesses and found ingredients to make an effective medicine. These ingredients were rum made from sugar cane, combined with lime, mint, and sugarcane juice.
This sweet cocktail will rush you to the tropical beaches of Cuba. Think relaxing by the water with the Caribbean breeze gently brushing your skin as you sip your Mojito.
KENTUCKY: Old Fashioned
If you always wanted to try bourbon, but you were a bit afraid, then Old Fashioned might be your stepping stone to the land of Kentucky. An Old Fashioned is made with two shots of Bourbon with some sugar, bitters, and water to help cut the punch of the bourbon.
Remember to use a good bourbon – a quality spirit base is the number one rule of a great cocktail. It’s important to experience that robust taste because the last thing you want is to get put off such an iconic drink. Try and make this classic “Whiskey Cocktail” at home with this Old Fashioned Cocktail Kit.
If you are looking for the original Cosmo recipe, you will indeed find it in Minneapolis. But, the one that we all know and love today gained its superstar status in the hit TV show “Sex and the City.”
Although not as popular today, the Cosmopolitan Cocktail is still a refreshing twist on a standard Martini. The citrus vodka and orange liqueur combined with cranberry juice and a touch of lime is a slice of heaven. You can’t help but feel like you are in a trendy Manhattan club being the centre of attention.
NEW ORLEANS: Sazerac
If you want to experience the jazz and feel of New Orleans but can’t afford to go there, Sazerac may just as well do the trick. It is an accurate representation of “The Birthplace of Jazz.” This gentle yet smooth but punchy, crazy but just right cocktail, will make you move to the songs of Louis Prima and send you back some 70 years in the past.
The even balance of equal parts cognac and rye whiskey is emboldened by the bitters and thrust forward by the absinthe, and it is simply jazz in a glass. After tasting a Sazerac, you will feel like you are on Bourbon St., eating crawfish gumbo, waiting for the party to begin.
Sip Your Way to Somewhere New
Don’t let this short list of cocktails limit your boozy adventure around the world. We bet there are other cities and countries that have something unique to offer, so the challenge lies before you.
Grab a friend or two because having cocktails, as with travel, is an experience that is always best when shared. And if for some reason travelling is not possible, we have everything you need to bring the world to you, right here.