Five Rediscovered 'Old Man' Gin Cocktails

Categories: Five Great...
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Flickr user shannonhurstlane
You young whippersnappers! You think just because some glorified bartender figures out there's more to a cocktail than syrupy fruit liqueurs and vodkas shaken together with too much ice, you've invented more trendy cocktails. Well, we were drinking these cocktails back when you got three for a dollar and went back to work after! Now put the vermouth back in the martini, throw out that Commie vodka business, and get off my lawn!

In all seriousness, where the past 10 years have been the Vodka Decade--vodka was turning up in martinis, for God's sake--many of the rediscovered cocktails that have been turning up on menus contain the ultimate "old man" spirit: gin.

Gin is an acquired taste when you've been used to the soulless, flavorless chill of vodka. A friend of mine, trying it for the first time, said it tastes like fellating a pine tree, as succinct a description of cheap gin as I've ever heard.

Gin producers, facing oblivion, listened, and they improved the quality of their spirits. It started with Bombay Sapphire. Plymouth started being exported, though its juniper flavor was a little much for gin newbies. Hendricks came out with its non-standard bottle and appealing-to-quirkiness adverts, though the slippery cucumber flavor makes for a great G&T and a very odd martini. The French and Americans have gotten into the gin business, with Citadelle and Bluecoat American, both quite good. The most versatile gin, though--the one that seems to play best in every preparation, from martinis to complex cocktails--is Martin Miller's.

Below are five "old man" cocktails enjoying a renaissance.

1. Negroni

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Flickr user reeselloyd
An apéritif in Continental Europe can be anything from anisette to Champagne. What stimulates the appetite best, though, is a bitter flavor. The Negroni, invented in 1919, is equal parts gin, Campari and sweet (red) vermouth that's stirred with ice and strained into a cocktail or old-fashioned glass with an orange twist. Don't serve huge pours of this; it's a sipping drink.

2. Ramos Gin Fizz

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Flickr user reeselloyd
The world owes a very great debt to New Orleans, mostly for its food--but the Roosevelt Hotel, just off Canal Street, has given us the Sazerac (a topic for a separate post) and the Ramos Gin Fizz, a brunch favorite that's one of the best excuses ever for drinking before noon. It's complex but worth it. Shake together 2 ounces of gin, 1 ounce of simple syrup, 0.5 ounces each of lime and lemon juices, 1 ounce heavy cream, a dash of orange flower water, and an egg white. Add ice and shake again, then strain into a highball glass and top with a spritz of soda water.

3. Tom Collins

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Flickr user reeselloyd
One of those drinks that everyone's heard of, but no one seems to know how to make. You can buy bottles of sticky, processed Collins mix in stores, but it's easy to make this at home. Superfine sugar is not the same thing as powdered sugar (the latter has cornstarch in it)--make your own by taking plain sugar and putting it through a food processor for 30 seconds. Shake 2 ounces of gin, 1 ounce of fresh lemon juice and 1 teaspoon of superfine (not powdered) sugar with ice. Strain into a highball glass filled with ice and top with 3 ounces of club soda. Garnish with a maraschino cherry (or better yet, a brandied black cherry) and an orange slice.

4. Pink Gin

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Flickr user stuartwebster
Once you've fallen in love with gin, the simplest of cocktail recipes is open to you. Pink gin is nothing but 3 dashes of Angostura bitters and 3 ounces of gin that's put in an old-fashioned glass and swirled until the drink turns pink. That's it. This may be the oldest gin cocktail recipe in the world, since it reached its heyday during the reign of Queen Victoria.


5. Gimlet

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Flickr user reeselloyd
The gimlet is the first of the gin-based classic cocktails to be corrupted by the insidious forces of vodka, as well as the cocktail most open to mixological meddling. Traditionally, it's just 2 ounces of gin and with almost (but not quite) the same amount of Rose's Lime Juice--yes, that sticky, sweet concoction nearly universally panned by bartenders everywhere--stirred with ice and strained into a cocktail glass (or poured over ice in an old-fashioned glass).



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11 comments
Claudia Koerner
Claudia Koerner

I missed this while I was out of town! Love it - gin and tonics have been my drink of choice pretty much since the beginning, and I like to make gimlets for parties.

Pepe
Pepe

Try the Aviation; if you like it it'll like you right back.1 1/2 oz. gin3/4 oz. maraschino liqueur3/4 oz. fresh lemon juiceShake the ingredients well with ice and strain.

Jonathan
Jonathan

My first drunk was on my dad's gin, with a table full of other first-time high school students playing quarters.

Lots of shots of straight stuff.

It might be a fine drink, but it was no friend that night ... or the next day.

David H
David H

I've had them all except for the pink gin...gonna have to try that.

Jeff Overley
Jeff Overley

Just made a Pink Gin. Pretty brilliant stuff. These spirits both have a lot of perfume and spice and esters going on, and they really team up nicely. Many thanks, Dave.

Newportblue65
Newportblue65

Great article! Great reading!...Love those Gimlet's.....From a "Old Man"......

Jason
Jason

This is an awesome article, gin is a fascinating spirit to work with. I can't think of anything made with Vodka that doesn't taste better with Gin. I am also super excited to hear the words "stirred" and "dry shake". Thanks Dave for giving Gin is proper dues with this great selection of classic drinks!

I'm in the anti-Roses Lime Juice camp, but I find that adding a little Falernum & fresh lime juice in place of the Roses is a fine interpretation of the Gimlet.

Jason Schiffer320 Main

jumpcut
jumpcut

All of those are way too sweet. Just order a gin & tonic...that's the best gin drink.

Brittanie Shey
Brittanie Shey

How is a pink gin too sweet? It's just gin and bitters.

The guest that wouldn't leave
The guest that wouldn't leave

Agreed... these are the faggiest "Old Man" drinks I've ever heard of.Tonic and Gin, or a stiff Gin Martini.... now those are old man Gin drinks.

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