Drinks such as the Martini and the Manhattan can be had at damn near any bar in the world. They’ve been around for over a century, and it’s unlikely they’ll ever fall from grace.
Then there’s a second tier of cocktails that might not be as well-known as these all-stars, but nevertheless they’ve stood the test of time, and they crop up on menus with astonishing regularity. (It seems that recipes that show no trace of non-alcoholic ingredients are particularly durable.)
The Vieux Carré—rye, brandy, sweet vermouth, Bénédictine and both Angostura and Peychaud’s Bitters—is one of these survivors. It was dreamed up in the late 1930s by Walter Bergeron, head bartender at the Monteleone Hotel in New Orleans.
Similarly, the Hanky Panky (pictured above)—gin, sweet vermouth and Fernet-Branca—has been strong enough to be relevant for more than a hundred years. It was created in the early 1900s by Ada “Coley” Coleman, head bartender at the American Bar at London’s Savoy Hotel, for Charles Hawtrey, a famed actor of the day. The concoction got its name when Hawtrey took his first sip and exclaimed, “By Jove, Coley, that’s the real hanky panky!”
Another robust quaff that’s been with us for a good long while is the Remember the Maine, which is featured in Charles H. Baker, Jr.’s 1939 book The Gentleman’s Companion. It commemorated the 1898 sinking of an American battleship, the USS Maine, which set off the Spanish-American War.
The Remember the Maine calls for rye, sweet vermouth, cherry brandy and absinthe, so it’s also a stout-hearted potion, and this is one of the few cocktails that comes with very detailed instructions on how to put it together: “Stir briskly in clock-wise fashion—this makes it sea-going, presumably!” advises Baker.
Three survivors with nary a splash of fruit juice in any of them. It’s little wonder that they’ve stuck around. I’ll take one of each, please.
Contributed by Gary Regan
- 1.5 oz Gin
- 1.5 oz Sweet vermouth
- 2 dashes Fernet-Branca
- Garnish: Orange twist
- Glass: Cocktail
Add all the ingredients to a mixing glass and fill with ice. Stir, and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with an orange twist.
Remember the Maine
Contributed by Gary Regan
- 1.5 oz Rye whiskey
- .75 oz Sweet vermouth
- .25 oz Cherry brandy
- 2 dashes Absinthe
- Garnish: Lemon or lime twist
- Glass: Coupe
Add all the ingredients to a mixing glass and fill with ice. Stir, and strain into a coupe glass. Garnish with a lemon or lime twist.
This recipe is adapted from Charles H. Baker, Jr.’s 1939 The Gentleman’s Companion.
Gary Regan is the author of numerous books about spirits and cocktails, including The Joy of Mixology and The Bartender’s Gin Compendium. He is also host of GazRegan.com and a Liquor.com advisory board member.