Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Cocktails to Try Before You Die

Top trends of the year and upcoming trends for next year (see Jimmy's article below) often make headlines during the holidays. But one list that will survive the test of time is the classic cocktail list. After all, they are on the classic list for a reason.

I can honestly say there are many drinks on this list that I have not tried, but they all sound very enticing. Perhaps we see less and less of these old school classics due to the rise of the craft brew industry, the consumer's thirst for fine wines, or because of the near defunct days of the three martini lunch.  I wonder what it would take to bring back the times of yesteryear when the martini and cigars were the toast of the town? Maybe those days are gone forever. Or perhaps like old clothing, they will once again become en vogue.

'Tis the season for the company Christmas party and numerous holiday gatherings. Take those opportunities to try some of these cocktail classics. You might just stumble upon a new favorite. What's the worst that could happen? You try it and you you don't like it? Fine! Go ahead and grab your same old boring beer or that bottle of two buck chuck.

Here are just a few of the cocktails that - in my opinion - are worth trying this holiday season, along with the best location to have them... if you don't want to try them here.  Although, I would recommend you do that first!

Caffè Rivoire  /  Florence, Italy

"Rivoire in Firenze is the only place for the Negroni, because it's where Luca Picchi works. He wrote a beautiful book about Count Negroni called Sulle tracce del Conte, and he makes the ultimate Negroni. It's served in a giant bucket glass with ice and a slice of orange, which is how it should always be served. We grew up drinking soda pop in America, so when we drink something like Campari we don't like the bitterness. When a drink warms up, the bitterness is multiplied, but if you put it on the rocks, the best sip is the last sip."

Mint Julep
The Round Robin Bar in the Willard Hotel  /  Washington, DC

"Presidents and lawmakers have imbibed here since Lincoln walked in for the occasional stiff drink on his rougher days. They say the term 'lobbying' was invented here because so many people would wait in the lobby for the politicians to finish drinking. Jim Hewes, the bartender here, is just so experienced and the place has so much history, there's nowhere better for a julep."

Irish Coffee
The Buena Vista  /  San Francisco, CA

"The ultimate Irish coffee is at The Buena Vista on the waterfront in San Francisco. They literally make hundreds and hundreds every day. The Irish coffee thing started when original owner Jack Koeppler's buddy Stanton Delaplane -- a 53-year vet of the SF Chronicle -- encountered the drink in Ireland and convinced Koeppler that he needed to serve it in his joint."

Vesper Martini
Dukes Bar  /  London, England

"The Vesper was named after the only woman that James Bond ever wanted to marry. When Ian Fleming was writing it, he was hanging out at Dukes Hotel. He lived in the neighborhood and drank there often. At the behest of Ian Fleming, the bartender invented a martini that was three parts gin, one part vodka, and some Kina Lillet instead of dry vermouth. Shaken, not stirred. They make it tableside, which is lovely."


Tujague's Restaurant  /  New Orleans, LA

"Tujague's is a famous saloon that's been there forever. They serve a classic Sazerac, it's the New Orleans drink. The saloon is in an ancient building and they've got great New Orleans gumbos. Nothing has changed in the place since the early 19th century."

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