Home' Hotel Management : HM AUGUST 2017 Contents Classic cocktails have most certainly made a huge resurgence over the last 10-15 years.
More recently, they have been embraced by bearded hipsters and bartenders who have
both rediscovered and reworked classic imbibes such as the Old Fashioned and Negroni.
However, there are a number of other factors responsible for this reboot of this drinking
culture and somewhat cult following.
Movies and TV shows such as The Big Lebowski (1998, White Russian) Groundhog
Day (2005, Vermouth on the rocks) Don Draper’s Mad Men (2006, Old Fashioned
and Whiskey Sour) and Daniel Craig`s reinvention of Bond in Casino Royale (2007,
The Vesper) kick started a whole new generation of classic drinkers. All of a sudden the
forgotten Classic Cocktail was cool again and defiantly back.
In 2002 one of the all-time great cocktail books ‘ The Craft of the Cocktail’ by Dale
DeGroff (aka the ‘King of the Cocktail’) inspired so many bartenders (myself included)
to get back to basics and completely strip back their philosophy on drinks creation.
Bars around the world started following suit. In the early ‘noughties’ many put their
own spin or twist on the classic. New York bars such as Milk and Honey, PDT and the
Flatiron Lounge not only pushed the classic cocktail, but also the modern classic, with
drinks such as the ground-breaking ‘Benton’s Bacon Old Fashioned’ from Please Don’t
Tell (PDT) and the ‘Penicillin’ from Milk and Honey being standouts. During this time,
New York City really led the way in driving new age classics.
In more recent years, many trendy small and hotel bars such as Artesian (at The
Langham, London), Zetter Townhouse, Dandelion, The Connaught and the legendary
Dukes Bar (all London) have taken this inspiration and most certainly succeeded to
run with it. 69 Colebrook Road is also a fine example of a classically inspired list run
by legend Tony Coniglaro. His recent work with Heston at The Fat Duck and Dinner
inspired a list is full of modern seasonal rifts on the classic cocktail such as the Liquorice
Whisky Sour and The Threefold, a beautiful twist on the Champagne Cocktail.
While on the other side of the Atlantic, Caffe Dante in New York City experiments
with classic drinks such as ‘The Chocolate Negroni’ (using ingredients such as White
Cacao, Chocolate Bitters and Chili Powder) and the ‘Negroni Bianco’ (with Brooklyn
Gin, Aperol, Sweet and Dry Vermouth, Verjus and Quinquina).
With many venues putting twists on the classic cocktail, it is more important than
ever to have a strong and well thought out classic cocktail offering in your own venue.
Classic cocktails have also found a new and much younger harder liquor-drinking
crowd, especially with modern and contemporary classics. Quite a change up from the
once stuffy classic cocktail drinkers from yesteryear, so it’s
important when shaping a list, any offering should take
into account your core demographic, style and theme of
venue, as well as being well thought-out and planned.
In my opinion, this lends itself to not only the original
classics but funky interpretations and a “less is more”
approach to cocktail list creation.
This theory is backed up by the new direction taken
by venues which for hundreds of years have stayed
super traditional, and would never have thought of ever
swaying from their original recipes. In recent times, they
used inspiration from the originals to create their classic
A great example of this trend is the legendary Dukes
Bar in London who are famed for their super classic
martinis and Vespers – and the original birthplace of the
This is where James Bond author Ian Fleming used to
enjoy his classic Vespers and Martinis and came up with
the infamous Bond line of ‘shaken and not stirred’.
As a throwback to this era, and with infinite attention
to detail, they sourced Fleming’s favourite perfumer (and
the one mentioned in the Bond novels) to come up with
a special 007 scent for their Martinis. That is one of the
coolest concepts I’ve seen around.
To avoid much of the confusion over what really is a
classic cocktail and how it can be defined, I sometimes
split classic lists into three categories for at least training
purposes. This helps break up and simplify the genre.
• Vintage or Forgotten Classics (for example the
Bamboo Widows Kiss);
• Traditional Classics (for example the Martini, Daiquiri
and Old Fashioned); and
On crafting a top shelf classic cocktail offering
Mixologist Grant Collins
Star bar consultant
Zephyr’s ‘Sonic Spiced Negroni’
36 HM The Business of Accommodation
Food and Beverage
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