This long, boozy history doesn’t mean there haven’t been various drinking foibles. It seems like almost every decade of the past century has seen an unfortunate trend take hold, starting, most notably, in the 1950s. (We’ll forgive the victims of Prohibition a run-in or two with bathtub gin).
Hop in the time machine—but let’s hope history doesn’t repeat itself.
Thanks to Mad Men, we know all about the mid-century comeback of classic drinks like the Old Fashioned and Manhattan. Concurrently, cream-based cocktails became oddly popular during the decade of circle skirts and housewives. Yes, White Russians are still a hot commodity thanks to The Big Lebowski, but how many people really want to mix milk and cream with booze? It’s often a cocktail recipe for disaster—not to mention a stomach ache.
From 1950s cream drinks, which carried over into the ’60s with variations like The Pink Squirrel becoming popular and the (more respectable) Brandy Alexander, we move on to one of the strangest drink categories of all: breakfast juice cocktails. It’s easy enough for college kids to disguise vodka in a glass of orange juice; it’s harder to believe anyone regularly indulged in Screwdrivers and Harvey Wallbangers. We’ll take a Breakfast Martini over adulterated OJ any day.
Welcome to Tom Cruise’s Cocktail. We can’t help but think that the convenience of pre-made mixers lent themselves well to flair bartending: Who has time to pause to mix simple syrup and lemon juice together? These cloyingly sweet—albeit convenient—mixers still show up in dive bars across the country, but thankfully, well-balanced, homemade mixers are taking over in most cocktail bars. Hopefully this trend will eventually die along with The Last Barman Poet.
Let’s get this out of the way: A Martini is a delightful combination of gin, dry vermouth and, at the very most, orange bitters.
In other words, simply because a drink is served in a cocktail glass doesn’t mean it’s a Martini. Sorry, Appletinis and Espresso Martinis: You’re not really Martinis.
This one’s not as bad as spiking breakfast juice or imbibing a quart of cream with booze. Sure, it’s fine to have someone else make that eight-ingredient drink, complete with two infused liqueurs and house-made bitters and syrups. But it’s exhausting for home bartenders to keep up with this multi-ingredient trend. Thankfully, there are always the trusty classics to keep us tipsy company.
Think you know the booze?
Let’s start with some basics.