An iconic Jazz age cocktail invented by British bartender Harry MacElhone. It’s a stone-cold classic that’s been a favourite at the Savoy’s American Bar since the 1930s. Basically, a gin sour with a little triple sec thrown in, it’s one of those drinks that tastes like infinitely more than the sum of its parts.
50ml No.3 London Dry Gin
20ml Lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon absinth
Combine all ingredients in a large shaker and shake without ice to whip up that egg white a little bit. One egg should do two cocktails nicely. Add plenty of ice and shake hard until everything is emulsified and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. The absinth is optional but that sweet anise flavour makes good company for the juniper in your gin and the orange in your Cointreau so it’s worth inviting to the party. Exercise caution with this one, it’ll sneak up on you.
The yuzushu from venerable sake brewery Akashi-Tai is made by infusing ginjo sake with yuzu fruit. It’s beautiful by itself with balanced sweetness and bright acidity and a flavour somewhere between mandarin, lemon, and those green fruit pastilles that might be lime flavoured. Delicious on its own for sure but Served 2:1 with Champagne it makes a spritzy cocktail that beats any Bucks Fizz, Bellini, or Kir Royal hands down.
50ml Akashi-tai Yuzushu
Couldn’t be easier; pour the sake into a flute or Champagne saucer and then pour the wine in slowly to preserved the bubbles. Any dry Champagne will be suitable but its perhaps best to avoid anything too lean or acidic as your drink will wind up very tart. This is exactly the kind of thing you want to have ready to go around midnight, two ingredients, nice and grownup, easy to make a second and indeed third round of.
A dry gin Martini in everything but garnish, this variation on the classic comes with a pickled onion or two. The Gibson had a bit of a moment this year after featuring in The Queen’s Gambit, but it’s been around forever. Hemingway favoured them during his Florida years – when he wasn’t favouring a Scotch and soda, Daiquiri, or Bloody Mary – and would keep onions in the freezer to make his Gibsons extra icy. Bar owner Marian Beke is such a fan that he named his Old Street cocktail spot after it. ‘We believe the Gibson has been overlooked for a long time, which is a real shame,’ he says. ‘It enhances the regular Martini serve with more savoury, umami notes and extra kick of acidity.’
7.5ml Noilly Prat dry vermouth
Good quality pickled onions
Cut a strip of lemon zest and skewer a couple of onions on a cocktail stick. Stir the gin and vermouth with lots of ice until well chilled and nicely diluted. Taste a little as you go to make sure you’re happy with the balance. Strain into a frozen cocktail glass, spritz the oil from your lemon peel onto the surface of the drink and discard, then garnish with pickled onions. Feel free to use any other kind of pickles you have as well as onions; little cornichons work nicely. Beke recommends serving a little cheese with your Gibson, ‘Parmesan or mature cheddar work well, as the fat and protein help to soften the alcohol kick and bring savoury notes that improve the drinking experience.’
Be sure to keep your Noilly Prat in the fridge once its open as dry vermouth will oxidise quite quickly at room temperature. You’ll want to drink it within a couple of weeks to get it at its best. Just as well then that it makes an excellent aperitif wine all on its own.
The original Martinez was made with Old Tom gin, sweet vermouth, bitters, and Maraschino liqueur. In its original form it’s a sweet drink to the modern palate but with a few tweaks it scrubs up nicely. Subbing the sugary Old Tom for a nice blanco Tequila makes a bright and fresh cocktail that’ll convert any agave-sceptics out there.
50ml Tapatio Blanco
25ml Cocchi Americano
1 teaspoon Maraschino liqueur
1 dash bitters
Stir all ingredients in a mixing glass, shaker tin, or pint glass with lots of ice until it’s absolutely freezing. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and garnish with a wee twist of grapefruit. Herbal, slightly almond-y Maraschino liqueur is a great thing to have on standby but as most cocktails only call for a tiny amount of it you might want to buy a miniature rather than a full sized bottled. You could use an aged tequila like Vivir Anejo, which will provide extra sweetness and some creamy vanilla. However, that will make this more of an after-dinner drink. Classic Angostura will do nicely but if you have orange bitters use those.
The absolute best thing you can do for your Espresso Martini is drop the vodka and sub in something more interesting. A fruity whisky with strong vanilla notes will be right at home. And don’t listen to anyone who says Espresso Martinis aren’t supposed to have whisky in them – Martinis aren’t supposed to have coffee in them either. When you’re making cocktails there’s always room for a little creative licence.
Nikka Coffey Grain from Miyagikyo distillery in Japan is fantastic here – It’s buttery, spicy, and filled with tropical fruit flavour. Its name pertains to the column still invented by Aeneas Coffey on which it is made but oddly enough works very nicely with espresso. A little cheaper and also fantastic would be Jameson Caskmates stout edition. Maturation in oak seasoned with Irish stout has given this classic whiskey a rich profile with lots of chocolate, nuts, and toffee.
50ml Jameson or Nikka
30ml Fresh espresso (from a moka pot will do)
25ml Mr Black Coffee Liqueur
Shake all ingredients hard with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. You can add some coffee beans or a few drops of chocolate bitters as garnish if you like, but they’re not essential. If you have a sweet tooth you can also add a spoonful or two of simple syrup (equal parts sugar and water). This is best taken for some extra pep at the beginning of the evening or after dinner. Just don’t stay on them all night; too much booze, sugar, and caffeine is a recipe for a bad head on January the 1st. Nobody needs that.