Three classic drinks you have to try

In this latest installment of What’s Shaking? Laura Macfehin suggests three classic cocktails for you to try as the nights get cooler

In summer my taste in drinks tends towards the crisp and dry– and as a result I’d rather have a beer or a Gibson than anything too fruity.  But as the nights get earlier and cooler my tooth gets sweeter; and suddenly the idea of something a little extra little seems tempting.  Not that these drinks can’t be enjoyed any time of year if the mood strikes you!

Here are three classic drinks from the dawn of cocktails that are always worth revisiting.

Cherry Bomb


The Martinez is one of those cocktails that sometimes gets described as the ‘original’ cocktail or as the precursor to the martini.  Those credentials are lost in time and kind of beside the point, but it is an old recipe– it was recorded in the 1884 book The Modern Bartender so its lineage extends at least to the 19th century.

Martinez recipes often call for maraschino liquor or cherry brandy; I like to use Cherry Herring because I feel like it has a bit of a more natural taste than a lot of other cherry ‘flavoured’ beverages.

The Sweet vermouth I used in this and in the Blood and Sand is Carpano Antica Formula, which is delicious.  There are more and more local Vermouths being produced though– and the end of this month Reid+Reid are launching a Sweet Vermouth, which if half as delightful as their Dry Vermouth promises great things!


12 oz Gin

12 oz Sweet vermouth

14 oz Cherry liqueur

2 dashes Angostura bitters

Garnish: Orange twist

Stir in a chilled shaker half-filled with ice and pour into a chilled glass.  Garnish with and orange twist if desired!

Martinez cocktail


Be my Valentino


In 1922 Paramount Pictures mixed up a fruity little movie featuring steamy lovers Rudolph Valentino and Nita Naldi, with Lila Lee thrown in for sweetness.  The film was a hit (it has been remade twice since) and a clever bar-keep mixed up this sweet little number in homage.

Whiskey cocktails are far less common than their gin counterparts– this is an easy one to master being essentially equal measures of its four contiuent parts.  You don’t need a fancy scotch for this either– any blended whiskey will do, but fresh orange juice does make a power of difference– kind of like Valentino wth kohl pencil or without.

Blood and Sand

3/4 oz whiskey

3/4 oz Cherry Herring

3/4 oz Sweet Vermouth

3/4 oz orange juice

Shake in a chilled shaker with ice and pour into a cocktail glass.

blood and sand
A Blood and Sand



Another contender for oldest cocktail, this New Orleans staple has a lot of lore surrounding it, but it is one of the simplest drinks to make.  Unlike the other drinks I’ve listed, you kind of want to use the right ingredients in your Sazerac.  It makes a Sazerac what it is.

While you can tip any kind of scotch into a Blood and Sand and come up smiling, a nice Rye is what you really want for a Sazerac.  Try Bulleit Rye Whiskey or Overholt and you will have a very delicious drink.


1 teaspoon sugar

3 or 4 dashes Peychaud’s Bitters

a few drops water

2 oz rye whiskey

1 teaspoon absinthe

lemon peel

Put a tumbler in the freezer to chill.  In a mixing glass or shaker put the sugar and water and muddle or swirl to dissolve.  Add ice cubes, the whiskey and bitters and stir.  Add the absinthe to the chilled tumbler and swirl to coat the inside of the glass– tipping out the excess.  Strain the whiskey mix into the glass and garnish with a little lemon peel if you like!

Sazerac, with Peychauds in the background.  Candle by Nick Rule

If you are new to cocktail mixing or skint and you don’t want to commit to a large bottle of something don’t forget about those nifty little singles one the counter of the bottle shop.  Cocktail drinking is really playing– they only way you can do it wrong is by not having fun.  Or find a bartender and get them to mix you a Martinez or the like– then if it tickles your fancy you can fill your liquor cabinet at home!


What is your favourite winter tipple? Do you mix it at home or is there a bartender with a deft hand near you?  I’d love to hear about it!

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