Cocktail joints continue to expand their presence in the bar market, but you don’t have to don a vest or perfectly waxed mustache to make delicious drinks. All it takes is a steady hand and good recipe, and you can be your own mixologist. Give a couple of these a look before giving up and closing the tab because you “hate gin.”
Gin, which is essentially juniper-flavored vodka, is one of the easiest spirits to work with in cocktails. There are dozens of easy drink options, but the botanicals also lend themselves to playful experimentation as well. We’ve put together eight drinks including classic gin cocktails and a couple new spins from two of today’s leading cocktail writers.
This cocktail is allegedly named after Dr. Serge Voronoff’s monkey gland transplant experiments. He claimed that all of chimpanzees’ vital organs could be transplanted to people, but the real attention getter was a particular part that supposedly increased male virility. It sounds like Voronoff was the original pop up ad, only it was 1923. Just like getting treated by the good doctor, the Monkey Gland cocktail will leave you very refreshed.
- 1.5 oz dry gin
- .75 oz orange juice
- 1 tsp absinthe
- 1 tsp grenadine
Shake well and strain into cocktail glass.
Recipe can be found in Harry Craddock’s The Savoy Cocktail Book. I’ve taken the liberty of translating the volumes into useable numbers in place of the fractions of a half gill used by Craddock. $15
Most colorful drinks give cause to pause. Something bright pink or purple is typically reserved for underground nightclubs catering to 22-year-old women at 3am. That’s not true of the Aviation, which gets its color from crème de violette rather than Pucker or some other unholy coloring agent. The cocktail dates back to the early 1900s, and its staying power is a testament to its deliciousness.
- 2 oz. gin
- .75 oz. lemon juice
- .5 oz maraschino liqueur
- .25 oz crème de violette
- 1 tsp. simple syrup
Stir with ice then strain into chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon twist.
Recipe can be found in Paul Clarke’s The Cocktail Chronicles. $17
Arsenic & Old Lace
Buying a bottle of crème de violette for a single cocktail would be a waste, so we turned to one of the finest cocktail writers & creators in the game, Gastronomista, for another option for using up the purple power. She recommended the Arsenic & Old Lace. It’s nearly identical to The Atty cocktail before people wimped out and dropped the absinthe. The only difference is the ratios, and Gastronomista found the perfect mix to really make the recipe pop.
- London dry gin
- Crème de violette
- Dry vermouth
Head over to Gastronomista to get the full recipe. You’ll absolutely want to add this cocktail to your repertoire.
If it seems like most cocktails are riffs on others, that’s because they often are. The Manhattan begat the Martinez, which begat the Martini, and so on down the line until we all end up just drinking vodka out of a plastic bottle. The Martinez doesn’t get nearly enough love for how good of a drink it is though. It’s easy to make and gives you a second use for the maraschino liqueur you already bought to make the Aviation.
- 1 oz old tom gin
- 3 oz sweet vermouth
- 2 dashes maraschino liqueur
- 2 dashes gum or simple syrup (optional)
- 1 dash aromatic bitters
Shake with ice and strain into chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with lemon peel.
Recipe can be found in Philip Greene’s The Manhattan: The story of the First Modern Cocktail. $13
Not to be confused with a Floridiot, the Florodora cocktail is named after a Broadway (via London) show, or more specifically, a sextet of sexy dancers within the show. The lovely ladies took New York by storm, winning the hearts of men across the city. They all ended up marrying millionaires, and we ended up drinking a cocktail made in their name courtesy of the Waldorf-Astoria. Everyone’s a winner.
- 2 oz London dry gin
- .5 oz lime juice
- .5 raspberry liqueur
- ginger ale
Shake well with ice and pour unstrained into a Collins glass. Top off with ginger ale.
Recipe can be found in David Wondrich’s Esquire Drinks. It originally calls for raspberry syrup but has since been updated to raspberry liqueur. Buy
Putting Cajun in front of just about anything will grab our attention, but it’s not often you see it attached to a drink. Leave it to cocktail aficionado Bit By a Fox to make all my wildest dreams come true. It’s amazing what a little bit of Tobasco can do for an already tremendous tipple. And don’t be dissuaded by the Prairie Fire shot your “friend” made you take on your 21st birthday. This drink is 100% happiness in a glass.
- Dolin Vermouth Rouge
- Sparkling Water
Head over to Bit By a Fox to get the full recipe. It’s the perfect addition to your summer cocktail rotation.
“Shaken, not stirred,” is seared into everyone’s brain regardless of whether or not they drink martinis. Questionable technique aside, the real gift Bond gave the drinking world was the Vesper found in Casino Royale. It’s ridiculously strong but drinks surprisingly easily. A dangerous combination. Both Gordons and Kina Lillet have changed significantly since ’53, so don’t get too hung up on branding. Cocchi Americano is used by many, myself included, in place of the Lillet because it’s believed to be closer to the original quinine-dosed Kina Lillet than the current iteration.
- 1.5 oz gin
- .5 oz vodka
- .25 oz Lillet Blanc (or Cocchi Americano)
“Three measures of Gordon’s, one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet. Shake it very well until it’s ice-cold, then add a large thin slice of lemon-peel. Got it?” – Ian Fleming, Casino Royale, 1953
Corpse Reviver #2
It might sound evil, but the Corpse Reviver is a heavenly hangover “cure.” There are multiple variations, but most have settled on #2 as the favorite. It’s easy to remember, which is of the utmost important when struggling the morning after a night of over-exuberance, and even easier to make. It also gives you another use for the Lillet found in the Vesper. While this list in general isn’t super wallet friendly, at least you’ll know nothing goes to waste!
- 1 oz gin
- 1 oz Cointreau
- 1 oz Lillet Blanc
- 1 oz fresh lemon juice
- 1 to 3 drops absinthe
Shake over ice and strain into cocktail glass. Garnish with stemless cherry (or orange peel).
Recipe can be found in Ted Haigh’s Vintage Spirits and Forgotten Cocktails. $14