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Cocktail Trends

Mad Men Push The Resurgence Of Classic Cocktails

April 23, 2013 By: Kristen Santoro

It was only yesterday that Sex and the City produced a multitude of Cosmopolitan consumers. The show catapulted the Cosmo and rooted it as one of the most popular cocktails.

Today, one of the biggest trends, also spawned by a popular TV show, is the continued growth of classic or retro cocktails such as Manhattans and Old-fashioneds. Maybe its Don Draper’s (from Mad Men) fault, but classic cocktails are making a comeback in a huge way. And we can’t complain.

Over the years thousands of cocktails have been created, but only a few have stood the test of time. Many of the cocktails featured on Mad Men originated 200, even 300 years ago. In addition, speakeasy-style bars that serve regression drinks have been and continue to popup everywhere.  If you’re not responsive to the trend, expect your guests to sip on these palatable libations somewhere else.

More often guests are putting down their vodka-cran and indulging their taste buds with sweet, bold and savory flavorings that often imbibe these cocktails. With antique glasses, old-school recipes and knowledgeable bartenders on the rise, prohibition-style cocktails are a great way to celebrate history and entice customers to frequent your bar.

Mad Men shines a persuasive light on the American cocktail culture; therefore make sure your staff is prepared for the continued resurgence in the classics.  Here are just a couple to keep in your back pocket:

Old-fashioned—literally, the old-fashioned way of making a cocktail—has been our contemporary expression of the original drink and encompasses bourbon, bitters, water and sugar. 

Tom Collins—made from gin, lemon juice, sugar and carbonated water served on the rocks. Change the gin for whiskey and you get a John Collins, substitute rum and you get a Rum Collins, sometimes called a Marimba Collins.

Sidecar—is traditionally made with cognac, Cointreau and lemon juice. It is thought to have been invented around the end of World War I.

Manhattan—made with whiskey, sweet vermouth, and bitters. The Manhattan never really slipped into hibernation, having been kept sleepily awake through the years, however younger generations are beginning to recognize its supremacy.

Dirty Martini—gin, dry vermouth, olives, and a small amount of olive juice or brine. Aficionados of the dirty martini maintain that successful execution is in the proper preparation of the cocktail.

Gimlet—an old style navy drink prepared with gin and lime juice.  Bartenders often substitute the gin for vodka – vodka gimlet.


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