The Basics History & Trends

3 Classic Cocktails That Have Stood the Test of Time

Bartending legend Gary (Gaz) Regan waxes poetic on these stirred drinks that remain popular.

Hanky Panky
Hanky Panky Image: / Tim Nusog 

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 nonalcoholic ingredients are particularly durable.)

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.

Vieux Carré

Vieux Carre cocktail / Tim Nusog

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.

Get the recipe.

Remember the Maine

Remember the Maine cocktail / Tim Nusog

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.

Get the recipe.

Hanky Panky

Hanky Panky / Tim Nusog 

Similarly, the Hanky Panky—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!”

Get the recipe.