It’s that time of year again, when “dry January” is ditched in favor of spring flings. Whether you’re celebrating with a special someone, or you want a little time with strangers at a dark cocktail bar, here are some of the most alluring drinks as we await pool weather.
Let’s start with one of my favorites, and one that I write about on occasion to spread the word: the Clover Club. Dating (probably) from the 1890s and the Bellevue Hotel in Philadelphia, it was one of the top tipples before Prohibition. Regardless of who created it, the Clover Club is one sexy drink. Pink in color, with a luscious egg white texture, it’s perfect for dessert after a romantic dinner, or just a Tuesday night at home. You’re going to probably get it made with grenadine at a bar—hopefully a housemade one—but you can also make this drink at home fairly easily. You’ll need raspberry syrup, but don’t buy one. The raspberry syrup is basically muddled raspberries in sugar, two parts by weight of sugar to berries, with one part cold water. I like to leave it overnight, but a half-hour is probably fine. You can always strain into a bottle and shake it to bring the syrup together.
- 2 ounces of gin (or 1 1/2 ounces of gin and a 1/2 ounce of dry vermouth)
- 1 egg white
- 3/4 ounce of lemon juice
- 1/2 ounce raspberry syrup
Separate the white and add to a shaker; build the rest of the drink, and shake it without ice, then with ice; strain into a coupe glass.
If you want, you can up the sweet and sour ingredients, as I often do. The vermouth seems a little unnecessary to me, so I generally omit it. I often place a few drops of Peychaud’s bitters on the top and swirl for color, but a few berries on a pick look great, too.
The Brandy Alexander, or “Alexander #2,” appears in Harry Craddock’s The Savoy Cocktail Book from 1930, but it most likely was around for a while before Craddock ever made one. It’s a heck of a cocktail name (or a showgirl alias), and an underappreciated classic. It has a vibe that is both golden age and also vaguely mid-century; I can imagine them being whipped up in a sunken living room in the 1960s. Luckily, they are easy to make, too! Here’s the Savoy version:
- 1/3 crème de cacao
- 1/3 brandy
- 1/3 cream
Shake well, and strain into a cocktail glass.
I would definitely dry shake to aerate the mix before adding ice. Nutmeg, freshly grated, is the preferred garnish. The proportions hold up from the OG recipes—three ounces total. Don’t cheap out on the ingredients, but there’s no need to use a fancy cognac; spend on the creme de cacao instead.
Nothing says sophistication like a martini, especially if you’re drinking at a fancy joint. It doesn’t necessarily scream “classy,” though, if you’re spilling a glass of 6 ounces of corn vodka and olive juice, with blue cheese and olives between your teeth. Oh, there is nothing wrong with that—but if you’re first getting to know someone, or trying to find someone to get to know, try this “original” version instead.
- 2 ounces of Plymouth gin
- 1 ounce of dry vermouth
- Dash of orange bitters (optional)
Stir; strain into a coupe; add lemon twist.
Is this really the “original”? We don’t really know, but it’s kind of caught on. Plymouth is both a brand and type of less-aggressive gin (if vodka is usually your thing), but a London Dry is great, too. The vermouth will mellow the martini, so if you’re gin-adverse, maybe do 50/50 until you acquire a taste for it. The lemon twist should be expressed over the top and the sides, as well as the stem, for a fresh aroma on your drink—and your hands.
Want a little more Marlboro Man in vibe? What about switching up your Manhattan habit for a Rob Roy? First created at New York City’s Waldorf Astoria hotel in 1894 and named after a Broadway show, it is rarely ordered today. Much like the other Scotch cocktails of note (the Blood and Sand and the Rusty Nail), it has a classic macho feel, but without the toxic “bro” vibes. You don’t have to be a tough guy, or a guy at all, to enjoy a Rob Roy on a cool night. The cherry garnish shows that you also have a soft side, so don’t do a twist with this one.
- 2 ounces of blended Scotch
- 1 ounce of sweet vermouth
- 1 dash each of Angostura and Peychaud’s bitters
Stir; strain into a cocktail glass; garnish with a cherry.
There are some pretty smoky blended Scotches out there, but this should be a balanced cocktail. Save the Band-Aids-and-campfires stuff for something else, like poker night.
Want something a little less rich? There’s nothing wrong with just going for a highball with Scotch—or try a highball with the whiskies coming out of places like Japan, Taiwan and India. Why? Because you’re very cosmopolitan, but not high-maintenance, and everyone knows it now.
- 1 1/2 ounce of whisky
- Mineral water
Build over large cubes in a tall glass, lightly stirring. Garnish with thinly-sliced lemon.
However you decide to spend your time, even if it’s just with the dog, you’ll feel great sipping any of these cocktails!