Classic cocktails are classic's for a reason, they've stood the test of time and are still some of the most popular drinks in bars. But some bartenders have to chosen to twist these cocktails into something new and wonderful. Sometimes the changes are only minor, other times sees the entire drink built from the ground up. We've even got our own twist here at The Broken Stem - a 'Smoked Black Walnut Old Fashioned', but more on that later.
Here are the
1. La Poderosa - French 75
First seen in The ABC of Mixing Cocktails by Harry MacElhone in the early 1900's, it's comprised of gin, lemon juice, sugar & topped up with champagne.
Its 21st century re-invention comes from El Nivel in London's Covent Garden, courtesy of Bar Manager Massimiliano 'Massi' Favaretto. His 'La Poderosa', (translated - the powerful) is less of a twists and more of an evolution of the French 75. It's made up of Vida Mezcal, lime juice, agave nectar and cardamon & lavender bitters, shaken hard, topped up with sparking wine and garnished with dried lavender.
Smokey, fragrant, light and citrusy. It's hard to have just one.
2. Grainaissance - Rusty Nail
Everyone has heard of a Rusty Nail, even if you've never had one. I very simple mix of Scotch & Drambuie, orginating somewhere between 1937 and the 1960's.
Well over at The Fumoir Bar at Claridges a modern re-invention has given the drink a renewed life by Head Bartender Riccardo Semeria. Not only has he updated the drink, but he's also created a drink paying homage to the renewed interest in grain whisky. A combination of Haig Club grain whisky, El Maestro Sierra Fino Sherry, Drambuie and chamomile syrup. The result is a lighter, more floral drink though it still posses the warmth and spice of the original.
3. Clearer Colada - Piña Colada
The Piña Colada is possibly one of the most recognisable drinks in the world - synonymous with beaches, sunshine, paradise and THAT song. Served in the curvy hurricane glass ice and completely white - not something you'd consider chic and classy. Well now you can sip it, martini style.
Davide Segat from the London Edition in partnership with consultancy Strangehill, took this beach bar image and transformed into something more glamourous. It's created via washing Havana 3 with coconut fat, then freezing it and scooping the frozen fat. The next step is creating their pineapple cordial. In a vacuum packed bag they add 4 chunks of pineapple, malic acid, water and sugar. It's left in a water bath of 60ºC for 2 hours then straining the contents. The fat washed Havana 3 & Pineapple cordial are then stirred down and served straight up with a lime twist to garnish.
In fact it's been so popular that the London Edition's Punch Room is on tour and it's one of the drinks they've been serving from Miami to Singapore.
4. The Maid in Cuba - Daiquiri/Mojito/Maid
Over the space of a year this became on of the most well known drinks across the globe, created by Tom Walker (Attaboy, NYC) during his time at The American Bar, Savoy London as his entry for Bacardi Legacy 2014, which he later won at the global final in Moscow.
The drink itself was based upon the three different drinks - the Daiquiri, the Mojito and the the modern classic 'Maid' cocktail, created by Sam Ross of Attaboy, NYC (former Milk & Honey).
The drink is made up of Bacardi Superior (Carta Blanca), lime juice, mint, cucumber, absinthe and soda. Learn about it from Tom below.
Honourable mention: Stone Daiquiri - White Lyan London
5. The Bloody Mary - The Pickle-Rack O'Ribs/Beary Mary
One of the most famous classic in the world, found in restaurants and bars the world over and synonomous with brunch and hangovers. A classic combination of vodka, worcestershire sauce, tobasco and lemon juice. This is probably the most played with classic, I've seen kale infusions from Kensington Street Social (Sydney) bar manager Matt Fairhurst, squid ink from World Class 2013 UK finalist Gareth Evans, Seaweed infused vodka from China Tang London and even pickle juice replace the tomato at Hawksmoor, Spitalfields London.
Originating at Harry's New York Bar in paris, it's been tried, tested and twisted and it still show no signs of slowing down. With so much variety, I've chose two variations.
The Beary Mary
From Ryan Grant at The Fat Bear in St Paul's comes the 'Beary Mary' and while not on the menu it occasionally crops up.
Inspired by the reraurants southern roots it consists of Finlandia vodka infused with Spanish white onion, lemon juice, Quady's Star Board Port, salt, Tabasco, worcester, Búfalo salsa chipotle and tomato juice. It presents like few Bloody Mary's - depth of flavour and consistant long finish with a sharp palate from the white onion.
The Pickle-Rack O'Ribs
Also hailing from St. Pauls see a bizzare and utterly intriguing twists in the form of the Pickle-Rack O'Ribs from Barbecoa, One New Change.
This twists turns the drink on it head, which first includes vac packing baby-back ribs with Stillhouse Original Moonshine and kept refridgerated, followed by re-distilling the diced ribs in a roto-vap. We then see Barbecoa's own inhouse pickle brine thrown with BBQ sauce, tomato juice & house spice mix. On the side you're then presented with a measure of the re-distilled moonsine (to add as you see fit) and garnished with a pickle spear dusted with smoked Paprika. Oh and did we mention it comes with a full baby-back rib? Possibly the ultimate edible garnish.
6. Concrete Sazerac - The Sazerac
The Sazerace is one of the most significant and profound drinks the world over, it's complex flavour is reflected by the specifics of which it's made. Made with either Cognac, rye whisky or both alongside Peychaud's bitters, sugar and Absinthe. It's simplicity reflects other similar drinks like the Old Fashioned or Manhattan. And it’s home - New Orleans, the spiritual home of cocktails.
At Dandelyan, one of London's finest bars, experimentation and development is second nature - they continue to innovate in ways one might never imagine.
This time the Sazerac is the field of play - how to re-imagine something so significant? Speaking to Ryan Chetiwardana, the man behind White Lyan and Dandelyan, he told me that:
'It's about time and minerality essentially; opening up the notes absent from a young cognac. The spirit has the requisite aged notes but not the tertiary flavours that comes from slow ageing. The concrete is a reductive material and opens up the spirit giving a mineral edge and accentuates the fruitiness. We just play up to this in a Sazerac'
To achieve this, the young Martell Cognac is vac-packed with a specialist concrete then heated in a water bath at an un-specified temperature and time. The infused Cognac is then mixed with fermented Peychaud bitters and absinthe. For the final serve it's kept chilled by edible 'chocolate' whisky stones.
Honourable mention: 'Moby Dick Sazerac from White Lyan, London
7. Full Fat Old Fashioned - Old Fashioned
The Old Fashioned has the honour of being one of, if the the first mixed drink to be known as a cocktail. Its simple mix of Bourbon, Angostura bitters and sugar make it easily replicable and enjoyed the around the world. It's the perfect cocktail to re-invent.
Here at Broken Stem we have our own take on it: The Smoked Black Walnut Old Fashioned - Woodford Reserve Bourbon, stirred down with walnut syrup and black walnut bitters over Halen Mon smoked water ice cubes.
But the twist we're mentioning here is the Full Fat Old Fashioned from the Hawksmoor Group, by former Air Street bartender Adam McGurk (now Randy’s Wing Bar). The drink’s popularity has seen it on the menu at all the sites.
The drinks consists of Bourbon washed with clarified butter in the sous vide/water bath combo, then stirred down over sugar and bitters. Its mouth feel is smoother than a classic Old Fashioned, with hints of popcorn & caramel on the palate. Despite thinking that this is wintery drink we can assure you that it's ideal anytime of year - even summer, classic has been given a fresh sweetness that suits hot days.
Honourable mention: 'Beeswax Old Fashioned at White Lyan, London
8. Urn-aged Corpse Reviver - Corpse Reviver No.2
The cocktails found in the Savoy cocktail book are some of the finest in the world, in particular the Corpse Reviver from Harry Craddock, created in the 1930's. He was believed to have said 3 in succession would successful revive a corpse. The drink has seen many additions to the original featuring Cognac, calvados and vermouth, known as the No.1. Others has included the No.2 which features gin, Kina Lillet, lemon juice, orange liqueur and absinthe as well as the No.Blue which includes blue curaçao.
This twists is both tweak on drink and a play on the classic name, which come from The Cocktail Trade Co. London (though currently only available on their menu at the Bristol site - Her Majesty's Secret Service). The drink is made up of Egyptian embalming gin (a play on joke, infused with
cedar oil, juniper, clove honey, cider, honey, pink peppercorns, cassia chips & green cardamon), aged in a clay urn, then shaken with fortified honey wine, mandarin liqueur, lemon and the standard splash of absinthe.
Served straight up in a zombie graveyard - it's a very modern and fun take on this classic, but still a remarkable drink. I'm sure Harry would be proud.
9. The -18ºC Martini/The Alaska - The Martini
One of the most symbolic classic cocktails - its been attached to to more people than Henry V. It was the preferred tipple of individuals such as Winston Churchill, poet Dorothy Parker, Brian Griffin, Franklin Roosevelt & of course, suave spy James Bond.
But for a drink that is only two ingredients - how can you possibly create a twists. Well it requires a bit of science.
Stoli created a promotional serve for their prestige vodka Stoli Elit, using a specially designed shaker with a cage for dry ice chips - which by shaking it gently with Noilly Prat super cooled it to approximately -18ºC. It's then served straight up with either a lemon twists or a specially created elit olive - specifically an Alphonso olive (Peruvian black olive that tastes like a green olive) marinated in Bordeaux wine. The olive is served on the side, allowing you to determine when it should be added, as the flavours from both are affected.
It's currently available at a small number of bars including MASH London and Novikov Lounge, Mayfair (with the addition of caviar bitters).
Honourable mention: 'Turnmill's Rice Wine' at Sosharu's 7Tales, London.
10. The Ponderosa - The Mint Julep
When you think of a Mint Julep, the first thing that usually come to mind is a hot day - probably one in the deep south of the US and the Kentucky Derby. A quick, cold and refreshingly strong drink that's seen popularity all over the world - with original version including apricot brandy, madeira & claret (seen in book 'Dainty Drinks & Cooling Cups' by William Terrington) but the popular and known choice is Bourbon.
Another one of those conundrums: how do you create something inspired by a simple mix of Bourbon, Sugar and Mint. It requires experimentation and ideas that wouldn't necessarily have been around the time of its creation (said to be the 18th century).
At The Gibson in East London, they’ve taken what they know best and created something unique and different with a savoury palate but still paying homage to the classic. They infuse Knob Creek rye with lamb jerky and combined it with smoked apple, lemon ketchup, pickled mint sauce & orange juice. It's garnish is as elaborate as its ingredients: lemon twists, wheatgrass shoots and the very edible lamb jerky.
Hnourable mention: 'English Julep', The Whip London