On the whole, cocktails are one of those things that’ll never go out of style. Their recipes might change and new ones invented, but as long as the world still has bourbon in it, or rye, or gin, or vodka, brandy, tequila, any booze, really, there will be people throwing it together in a shaker, mixing it up, and straining it into a glass.
We all know about the old stuffーThe Old Fashioneds, Manhattans, and Gin and Tonics of the worldーalong with some new or low-cal ways to serve them, but what about the stuff that flies under the radar? It’s not like we only have a half dozen ways to mix alcohol, juice, herbs, or whatever bitters are.
Well, that’s why we’re here, friend. Here are the best cocktails you’ve never heard of but need to try.
Yes, the pink lady is pink. And yes, it does have “lady” in the name. But the good people at Playboy interviewed a few bartenders about this, and if they’re not worried about the femininity of your drink, then you shouldn’t be either. The cocktail gets its pink hue from the 2 dashes of grenadine tossed in for good measure, but a pink lady is basically dry gin and apple jack, mixed with a little lemon juice and a goddamn egg white. Two high-proof boozes, mixed with eggs and lemon. Nevertheless, the grenadine gives it an ever-slightly-but-super-important dash of sweet fruitiness, and the lemon lends a dry, crisp smack to the concoction. If you’ve never sampled the Pink Lady, it’s time to do something about it. Recipe
Corpse Reviver Number 1
You’ve all heard of the Corpse Reviver (probably one of the most badass cocktail names of all time), but when you do, you’re usually hearing about Number 2 (gin, Cointreau, a little absinthe). The original Corpse Reviver #1 is an excellent cocktail that no one drinks, and we honestly don’t know why. A strong cognac base, mixed with a little calvados (apple brandy) and a little sweet vermouth, shaken well and strained into a standard cocktail glass, the Corpse Reviver #1 is a simple, uncomplicated, and damn good cocktail worthy of your attention. Recipe
Another classic cocktail we forgot after Prohibition, Warday’s Cocktail is excellent for people who prefer a more herbaceous booze. Gin, calvados, a little sweet vermouth, are mixed and finished off by some Yellow Chartreuse. The Warday’s Cocktail is a drink that really does well in the transition from summer to autumn, but we’re fans of it year-round, too. Recipe
Known as “The Whiskey Cocktail for People who Don’t Like Whiskey,” the horsefeather is a careful and delicious blend of rye (or bourbon), ginger beer, and a dash or two of bitters, poured over ice into a highball glass and garnished with a wedge of lime. It’s easy and simple, and really hits the spot for those Sunday-morning hangovers, or on a scorching summer day. Hell, it’s even “spicy” enough to do well around a late-night winter’s fire. For this one, just make sure you don’t skimp on the ginger beer. How much you put in will make or break this light and sprightly cocktail. Recipe
Death in the Gulf Stream
If there’s one piece of advice from Hemingway that’s as good as gold, it’s his booze recommendations. A favorite of his, Death in the Gulf Stream (no, really, that’s the name of this cocktail) is a concoction of lime juice, bitters, simple syrup, and jenever (gin’s Dutch older brother). The juniper flavor from the jenever goes perfectly with the lime, and can certainly quench any thirst on a hot day. Do keep in mind, however, that too much simple syrup will absolutely ruin this drink. Follow the recipe down to the button, and then add syrup to taste—nothing more. Recipe
The Income Tax
As a very intelligent gentleman once said, “Only two things in life are certain: Death and this tasty cocktail.” The Income Tax is a year-round cocktail encompassing gin, dry and sweet vermouth, a little orange juice, and a couple dashes of Angostura bitters, shaken and strained into a cocktail glass. The ease and simplicity of this classic cocktail can’t be understated, especially for the complex flavors it delivers. For reference, this cocktail is almost identical to another classic pre-Prohibition mix called the Bronx, but with the addition of the bitters—which make all the difference. Recipe
Kentucky and Tennessee might be where America’s whiskey calls home, but New Orleans, Louisiana, is where it all goes to play. Vieux Carre is straight up old school Americana mixed into a glass that got tossed around in some Cajun voodoo, and turned into something beautiful. Bourbon, cognac, sweet vermouth, some Peychaud’s and magic are mixed into a rocks glass with ice, gently stirred, before turning everyone’s Mardi Gras in a bead currency nightmare. Recipe
If you go down to Mexico and ask a Mexican what Mexicans drink, you won’t hear anything even remotely similar to the word “margarita.” Margaritas are the guilty pleasure of Americans, not the traditional drink of Mexico. If you want something closer to what they’re drinking south of the border, you need to get the La Paloma. A classic La Paloma has only four ingredients: Reposado tequila, fresh lime juice, grapefruit soda, and a pinch of salt (DO NOT omit the salt). That’s it. Mix everything together in a tall glass with some ice, stir it all together, and enjoy. Recipe