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Oct 16, 2006 04:20 AM

a classic man's cocktail?

say you're a twenty-something male, saddling up to the bar. what's your standby, signature cocktail?

i've been trying to settle on one for some time, but i'm not well versed in spirits. i'm looking for something along these lines:

- nothing too stiff (e.g. a martini)
- nothing too sugary (e.g. a margerita)
- something with character or sophistication (e.g. a sidecar?)

i've been drinking dark 'n stormies, but those seem a little juvenile...

help a guy out!


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  1. #1. Gimlet. Real lime juice...not Rose's. Gin, not vodka.
    #2. Mint Julep (not just for Derby day) : 1 tsp sugar; 2 mint leaves; crushed ice to fill glass; bourbon; splash soda.
    #3. Greyhound.
    #4. Presbyterian.
    #5. The Ted: Captain Morgan & Coke
    #6. The Bell: Vodka & orange juice
    #7. The Ted Jr.: 7up
    #8. The Theodora: Cream soda

    21 Replies
    1. re: liegey

      Gimlet - yes, gin over vodka. But what's your beef with Rose's Lime? Fresher is not always more authentic. Gin with plain lime juice is unpleasantly harsh - it needs the sugar.

      "A real gimlet is half gin and half Rose's Lime Juice and nothing else" (Raymond Chandler, The Long Goodbye).

      1. re: frenetica

        Indeed. I asked for a gimlet, and the barkeep made it with raw lime juice. One sip, and I sent it back.

        A variation I like is the vanilla gimlet, using Stoli vanilla. Tastes like key lime pie.

        Chandler also wrote, "Alcohol is like love. The first kiss is magic, the second is intimate, the third is routine. After that you take the girl's clothes off."

        1. re: frenetica

          Frenetic, I would not stick to an author's opinion published or not as a recipe to be followed other than as an experiment. And that one ie equal parts gin and Rose's Lime Juice is a failed experiment. The lime juice is a condiment to a gimlet as the vermouth is to a martini. A good gin and "capful of the lime juice make a mildly tart gin cocktail - enjoyable and easily repeatable. Ice in the mixing glass stir and strain. Now you've got it.

          1. re: feelinpeckish

            Savoy has the gimlet clocking in at a 50/50 ratio of gin and lime syrup.

            Also, I'm curious to know how present vermouth should be in a martini, given you calling it a 'condiment'.

            1. re: jgg13

              The recipe on the bottle of Noilly Pratt says 1/3 vermouth, of course they want to sell more Vermouth. Personally, I like about half that much.

              1. re: TroyTempest

                To stick w/ Savoy, they call for 1/3 vermouth as well. I'm more of a manhattan fan than martini, but I view both of them as ideally having 1/3 vermouth.

                FWIW, Harry Johnson called for a 50/50 blend in the martini cocktail

                1. re: jgg13

                  I can't for the life of me EVER recalling that much vermouth being used in a drink in my circle or any bartender in quality any level of bar/restaurant. The "cap-full" I described is adequate for a dry (not VERY DRY) martini. Without going into the outside the limit descriptions where one merely whispers the word vermouth over the gin, my description provides a very pleasant drink. And it also applies to manhattans as to vermouth quantity.

                  1. re: feelinpeckish

                    That's how a lot of people do it in modern times, but classically speaking they're wrong. it doesn't help though that most places don't properly keep their vermouth, i think that a lot of people think that they don't like vermouth because they've only had the stuff after it has gone bad.

                    And the whole winston churchill whispering the word thing isn't a martini, it's a gin (or vodka) served up :)

                    1. re: jgg13

                      Agree completely. A lot of the original recipes (for both Manhattans and for the Martinez, which is the forerunner of the Martini) call for even as much as 2:1 vermouth:spirit. If you use a good vermouth, it can taste pretty good, and as a bonus, the drink doesn't have quite as much alcohol in it. I don't understand the hate for vermouth - without the vermouth (and, some might argue, without bitters), it's not a cocktail. If you just want really, really cold gin or whisky in a cocktail glass, why not just ask for that (I'm not even going to get started on vodka)! Once you're getting to the point of spraying the vermouth on, why even bother.

                      I usually make about Manhattans 2:1 whisky to vermouth, and sometimes make Martinezes 2:1 vermouth:gin (I've tried both using a mixture of sweet and dry, which one old recipe used, and just sweet).

                      Agree about the other problem - with people asking for so little vermouth, even bars sometimes don't go through the vermouth that fast. And a lot of places that stock top-shelf spirits still use sub-par vermouth, or crappy ice.

                      My girlfriend made this comic about Martinis (attached below) (the character in the second frame is "Cocktail Crusader"

                      1. re: jgg13

                        A dry martini means it's made with French (or dry) vermouth as opposed to Italian (or sweet) vermouth, and forget ratios and all that whispering jive. I prefer my martinis dry but I'm not dogmatic as to the ratio--I mix mine to suit my prevailing moods. Sometimes I even add sweet vermouth: other times I add bitters and a twist. In all cases, all open vermouth bottles are kept well chilled.

                        My wife is partial to manhattans, preferably 2 parts 6-year-old Sazerac rye to 1 part Vya sweet vermouth with Angostura Orange bitters stirred over ice and served over a Luxardo cherry with a tsp of maraschino syrup slipped down the side of the glass.

                      2. re: feelinpeckish

                        Funny, but the "quality" bartenders are doing exactly that: more vermouth.

                        And a Manhattan with just a "capful" of vermouth is gross.

                        Where do you drink? I'd like to know where not to go.

                        1. re: Alcachofa


                          I love a Manhattan and not enough Vermouth is a sure route to a bad Manhattan.

                          I can understand those who want a dry Martini or even a Winston-Churchill-glass-of-Gin-by-another-name. However, a dry martini should not be the default and a regular Martini should be close to 1/3 Vermouth. Just make sure its good vermouth.

                        2. re: feelinpeckish

                          "can't for the life of me EVER recalling that much vermouth being used in a drink in my circle or any bartender in quality any level of bar/restaurant."

                          Witness CHOW's "The Perfect Martini" video, where we learn about The Fitty-Fitty at NYC's Pegu Club - a half gin, half vermouth martini.


                          I've tried the recipe at home and it's actually quite good.

                          1. re: feelinpeckish

                            Stop using crap vermouth. Use plenty of it. Your martini will thank you.

                            1. re: feelinpeckish

                              I don't tend to love a TON of vermouth in my martinis, maybe a 1:4 ratio, so I can almost see where you're coming from, but in a Manhattan? No freakin' way. That's at least a 1:3 ratio at my house, and might begin pushing 1:2.

                      3. re: feelinpeckish

                        A "failed experiment"? I suppose all the classic cocktails are "failed experiments" in your book. Anything less than 3:1 is just gin with a hint of Rose's. Nothing wrong with that, but it isn't a gimlet.

                    2. re: liegey

                      A gimlet, by definition, uses Rose's Lime. Fresh lime is no longer a Gimlet, but something closer to a gin sour.

                      And coookie, in case you were wondering, a Presbyterian is whiskey or bourbon with club soda and ginger ale. Other base spirits can be substituted, just order a vodka presbyterian if you want to do that.

                      My signature cocktail is the Pegu Club Cocktail, a refreshing blend of gin, triple sec, fresh lime juice, and a couple of dashes of Angostura bitters, served straight up with a lime twist. It's a very summery drink, so you might want to find something to tide you over until it warms up. Cuba Libres are always good... sure it's just rum and coke with a squeeze of lime, but a Cuba Libre sounds so much more exotic, doesn't it?

                      1. re: liegey

                        You are telling a man to drink rum and coke? or a basic screwdriver (vodka+oj)? This guy would get laughed at by every lady in the house! He needs to drink gin anything or scotch. Jeez, dont effiminate the guy seeking help.

                        1. re: Hungry Girl

                          I'd agree with this sentiment about a Rum & Coke or screwdriver. Drink drinks that taste like drinks, put one or two things in that will dilute the flavor of the spirit, but not drown it out. If you are worreid about appearing to be more manly, drink something on the rocks or with tonic or club soda.

                        2. re: liegey

                          Walker Percy on juleps: 1941: Drinking mint juleps, famed Southern Bourbon drink, though in the Deep South not really drunk much. In fact, they are drunk so seldom that
                          when, say, on Derby Day somebody gives a julep party, people drink them
                          like cocktails, forgetting that a good julep holds at least five ounces of
                          Bourbon. Men fall face-down unconscious, women wander in the woods
                          disconsolate and amnesiac, full of thoughts of Kahil Gibran and the
                          Be careful of the advice you seek!

                          1. re: liegey

                            Consider the Pink Lady: gin, applejack, and the laughing in the face of death that comes with consuming raw egg products. It's also delicious when properly made, i.e., with a housemade Grenadine instead of one of those generally horrific commercial bottled products.

                            Order one and stare down anyone that snickers: that ought to prove your manly bona fides. In Boston, Green Street and Eastern Standard Kitchen shake up fine renditions.


                          2. According to "The Hipster Handbook" the Holy Trinity of cocktails are:
                            1) The (gin) Martini
                            2) The Cosmopolitan (not a man's cocktail surely)
                            3) The Manhattan

                            I love 1) and 3). 3) with Makers is my favorite. However, you did say a "man's" cocktail and all of the above (although very deck) come served in a Martini glass (not manly). I recall in a lot of Scorsese films mob guys ordering "7 & 7" (Seagram's 7 and 7up). You can always just go Scotch on the rocks.

                            2 Replies
                            1. re: Chinon00

                              Not too much ice, or maybe just a little cool water if it's good scotch, IMHO.

                              1. re: Chinon00

                                Or get your Manhattan on the rocks. When I lived in St. Louis almost every bar served them that way. Then I moved to the upper Midwest, where they are served up and made with brandy! It pays to know your bartender. Or just be specific.

                              2. This will probably get moved, but it is a good topic. I like to drink vodka and tonic, or rye and ginger ale.

                                Rusty nails are good, but maybe a bit too stuffy.

                                1. A Manhattan -- and I've never been served it in a martini glass. I like it extra sweet (more red vermouth) but only if it's decent vermouth.

                                  Otherwise, I'd drink scoth, neat. Or burboun, neat.

                                  24, Male. I'm NOT a manly man and I'm as likely to order Cassis or something else 'girly'. However, I like Manhattans and other harder liqour.

                                  3 Replies
                                  1. re: Atahualpa

                                    "A Manhattan -- and I've never been served it in a martini glass"

                                    Of course not - however Manhattans should be served up in a cocktail glass, which is a stemmed glass similar in shape to martini glasses.

                                    Finally, sorry, an extra sweet manhattan does not qualify as a 'man's drink'

                                    1. re: Atahualpa

                                      I usually get asked "up?" when ordering a Manhattan, say yes, and therefore get it in a stemmed cocktail glass - as Frank notes: but I suppose if such a glass moves it to "not manly" I guess you could say "no" and get your Manhattan on the rocks.

                                      I can't help but think a Manhattan goes against the "not too stiff" guidance from the OP, but I have a hard time coming up with a drink I'd call "manly" that isn't also stiff... if I want manly and not stiff I guess I'd have a beer!

                                      Actually looking at some of the other answers I think those who said scotch & soda have it right... seems to meet all the criteria.

                                      1. re: Pincho

                                        for something as dark as a Manhattan but not as stiff tasting, try the Creole (1 oz rye, 1oz sweet vermouth (less sweet vermouth if it's something like Vya), 1/4 oz benedictine and (since amer picon is not commonly available) 1/4 oz either allspice dram or cointreau (or a mix), garnished with lemon rind.

                                    2. thanks for the suggestions thus far!

                                      and maybe i should modify my first post. i'm certainly not above throwing back the odd girly drink or two. perhaps what i meant rather than a "man's drink", is a "gentleman's drink" - that is, less emphasis on the machismo, and more on the suave.

                                      1 Reply
                                      1. re: coookie

                                        Old Fashioned
                                        Vesper - if you want suave then james bond is your guy