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25 May 2020 By David Fuhrmann-Lim

These Are The Classic Cocktails You Need to Know How to Make.

Because one day you’ll be thirsting for an Old Fashioned at home, and then some. And who’s gonna make it for you? Learning these recipes will give you hours of endless fun, and you only need a few spirits to get you started (make sure it’s top-shelf stuff though). Score yourself: Gin (optional Old Tom), rum, tequila (mezcal), vermouth (port), cherry liqueur, vodka, whisky (rye, bourbon), Campari, Cointreau (any triple sec), cachaca, pisco and absinthe. You’re good to go.


The Big Easy

pisco sour
Pisco Sour
Debate still rages about the origins of the drink, you either lean towards Peru or Chile as the country of export. What’s not up for debate is how delish the cocktail is—a concoction perfect for summer (I’m partial to it when winding down after a heavy night… also see Corpse Reviver II).
Need: Pisco, lime juice, sugar syrup, egg, lime and bitters.
Method: Add egg white (remember the dry shake first), 50ml Pisco, 50ml lime juice, 50ml sugar syrup and ice into a cocktail shaker and shake vigorously. Strain into a rocks glass. Top with a few dashes of Agostura bitters and garnish a slice of lime.
The Twist: Yuzu juice works.

 french 75 cocktail

French 75
Gin and Champagne go together like jazz and noir movies, and this makes a simple, elegant welcome drink.
Need: London dry gin (60ml), fresh lemon juice (20ml), simple syrup (20ml), Champagne (60ml), long spiral lemon twist (for serving)
Method: Combine gin (try this French gin), lemon juice, and simple syrup in a cocktail shaker. Fill shaker with ice and shake until it’s very cold, say about 20 seconds.
Strain cocktail through a Hawthorne strainer into a large flute. Top with Champagne and garnish with lemon twist. Now you’re cooler than Miles.
The twist: Use rosé or experiment with gin infusions.


A good way to make the most of any spare cognac lying around, the Cointreau and lemon juice combine to give this wayside cocktail a boost.
Need: Cognac, Cointreau, lemon juice, sugar syrup, orange garnish.
Method: Combine 50ml cognac, 25ml Cointreau, 25ml lemon juice, one teaspoon of sugar syrup and plenty of ice in a cocktail shaker and once shaken hard, strain into a coupette glass with a twist of orange for garnish.
The Twist: Use a combo of blackberry+pineapple juice instead of lime. Voila, c’est summertime! (Here are a few more spirit techniques you can try at home.)


Three For the Beach (or Your Balcony/Garden)


Can’t beat a margarita when the sun is beaming down, and you need a drink to see you through to the after-party. You’re likely to want to do tequila shots while making this, so our advice is… make sure it’s quality teq.
Need: Tequila, lime, salt, triple sec, plenty of ice.
Method: First things first, prepare the glass by wiping the rim of the glass with a lime and then placing it upside down on a bed of salt so that the rim has a light covering all the way around. Combine 50ml tequila, one tablespoon of triple sec and ice in a shaker and serve with extra ice and lime to garnish.
The twist: Everything is improved with mezcal. We’re calling ours a Smokarita.



Nothing beats a cold Mojito as alternative refreshment during an afternoon bbq. Fresh is the keyword here: fresh mint and lime = fresh cocktail. Muddle the hell outta the most of your ingredients and the work will pay off.
Need: White rum, one lime, sugar, mint and soda water (why not x6 and make a jug instead, you selfish dolt!)
Method: Muddle together the juice of one lime, sugar and mint in a mixing glass and pour into a tall glass with plenty of ice. Add 60ml white rum and stir. Top up with soda water and garnish with a spring of fresh mint.
The twist: Swap out white rum for Plantation Pineapple Rum.



Brazil’s national drink is refreshing and easy to make. Legend has it that the cachaça—as Brazilian as samba, football and carnival—should be the cheap, bottom shelf variety, it makes the drink better! First created in the 1500s from the fermented juice of sugar cane, cachaça is similar to rum yet distinct for its funky, grassy flavours, setting the Caipirinha apart from other sweet-and-sour cocktails.
Need: Cachaca, sugar, lime (cut into wedges), and soda water.
Method: Muddle sugar and lime. Fill glass with ice, add the cachaça, and stir briefly. Garnish with a lime wheel (optional).
The twist: Drizzle a bit of blueberry liqueur and garnish with some blueberries.


tom collins cocktail

Tom Collins

Meet Tom, your summer lifeguard.

Need: Gin (45ml), lemon juice (20ml), simple syrup (20ml), soda, orange half-wheel and Luxardo cherry.

Method: Combine all in a cocktail shaker, add ice and shake hard for 15 seconds. Strain into a Collins glass (yes, the glass is named for the drink) and add fresh ice. Top with soda. Garnish with an orange half-wheel, wrapped around a Luxardo cherry, with a cocktail pick through the whole thing.

The Twist: Any gin works: genever, Old Tom or new style gins. Tom’s very forgiving.


A Stiff One (M-N-O)

CÉ LA VI_Negroni Week

Negroni, no introduction needed.
Need: Gin (go navy strength if you like it strong), sweet vermouth and Campari.
Method: Stir all three spirits (15ml each) in an ice-filled mixing glass until very cold, about 30 seconds. Strain cocktail into an ice-filled rocks glass., garnish with orange slice and serve.
The twist: Forget the bitters, infused gin (blueberries, hazelnut) or blanco vermouth add a new dimension.


Crackerjack rum old fashioned cocktail

Old Fashioned
I made my own bitters for this, but you’re better off experimenting with one of the many cool brands out there (I like Barkeep). You can also use orange bitters if you want a more intense orange-y profile, or muddle two thin orange wedges with the sugar. Otherwise, what’s there to tell you? It’s Don Draper’s favourite sin, besides marital affairs.
Need: Rye whiskey (60ml), one teaspoon raw or granulated sugar, bitters, orange wedge (for serving), and one maraschino cherry (optional).
Method: Stir sugar and same amount of warm water in a rocks glass until it’s dissolved. Add three dashes of bitters. Add ice cube and pour rye over. Stir 20 seconds to chill cocktail and dilute whiskey. Garnish with orange wedge and cherry. Watch Mad Men.
The twist: Stick to rye if you want it slightly spicier, but maybe a dollop of peated whisky if that’s how you roll. One other thing: instead of sugar, use maple syrup.


sazerac house new orleans

You can batch this New Orleans classic ahead of time, and serve it when the guests are clamouring for something strong and you’d rather be broadcasting your mad uke skills. (Cocktail legend Dale DeGroff has a different take of the Sazerac.)
Need: rye whiskey (60ml), sugar syrup, absinthe (wash), bitters and lemon twist.
Method: Rinse the rocks glass with a dash of absinthe and toss it out (the absinthe, not the glass.) Stir the rye whiskey with a tablespoon of sugar syrup until cold. Add bitters and pour into the now hallucinating rocks glass. Go coupe if you like. Garnish with a lemon twist.

The Twist: Absinthe is what differentiates this from an Old Fashioned. So experiment with absinthe.


warehouse bar boulevardier cocktail

Named for The Boulevardier magazine, this Prohibition-era cocktail was a favourite among expatriates living in Paris. (Trivia: A Rob Roy is a Boulevardier without Campari.)

Need: bourbon (60ml), Campari (30ml), sweet vermouth (preferably Antica Formula), lemon twist (for garnish).
Method: Stir everything in a mixing glass with ice until chilled. Serve in a rocks glass with a lemon twist.

The Twist: Like the Negroni, you don’t fk with the Campari, but you can switch to a blanc or bianco vermouth (and Aperol has less abv as well), or make the whisky as peaty or fruity as you like. My favourite is Port Charlotte 10—it just works.


Origin Bar - cocktail



Part Manhattan and part Martini, the Martinez has appeared in cocktail books going all the way back to 1884. The recipe that most resembles the one served today comes from legendary bartender Jerry Thomas and includes Old Tom gin, so the cocktail does tend to skew a bit sweet.

Need: Old Tom-style gin (45ml), sweet vermouth (45ml), Luxardo maraschino liqueur (7ml), bitters, and orange garnish.

Method: Add all ingredients into a mixing glass with ice and stir until chilled. Strain into a chilled coupe glass. Garnish with an orange twist.

The Twist: Origin Bar in Shangri-La makes the best Martinez (above). We’re gonna give it away by telling you that it’s because they use…three styles of vermouth. That’s all we can say. Swoon. You can also use port instead of vermouth. In fact, port’s a darn worthy swap for vermouth for a round, comforting nuttiness.


The M Word

The Martini holds a special place in my heart. It’s the most classic of all the cocktails, it’s served in an elegant yet utterly cumbersome martini glass—which is pretty much the cocktail’s way of giving zero fucks. It only needs two spirits to make it work, and it’s merely a question of how dry (less vermouth) or wet (more vermouth) you want it. And that’s it. Also, gin. Always gin. Not up for discussion. (Discussion: because of the botanicals, Mr. Bond.) The Martini also doesn’t need a twist, though there are myriad versions of it, like Cucumber, Kit Kat, Lychee, Saketini…sure, whatever floats your boat. Once you’ve mastered these, pop into Jigger & Pony, Asia’s #1 bar in the recent 50 Best reveal. And they will make you a Martini.

The Library cocktail Dirty Martini

Dry Martini

This is such a simple but delicious signifier of taste and wankiness, and any barman worth his/her tattoo should be able to get it right. (See if they chill the martini glass.)  Ask for an upmarket vermouth. Go on, indulge yourself.

Need: Gin, vermouth and olives.

Method: Fill a mixing glass with ice and then pour in 150ml dry gin and 25ml vermouth and stir until the glass is chilled. Strain into chilled glasses and garnish with olives on a cocktail stick to serve.

The Twist: None. Also, don’t say “shaken, not stirred”, ever. [Dirty Martini: Same as the classic, add a dash of olive brine to the proceedings. Prefer it filthy? Add more brine, it’s not an exact science, alas…]

 There is a Twist: Try aquavit instead of gin. We’re calling it a Vikingtini.

martini punch

Espresso Martini

You don’t need George Clooney’s Nespresso to help with this; a stove-top coffee maker or even canned espresso works just as well. The ideal early evening drink to bring a bit of pep to proceedings, Kahlua is the coffee liqueur of choice.

Need: Vodka, espresso, Kahlua coffee liqueur and ice.

Method: Mix 100ml vodka, 50ml cooled espresso, 50ml of coffee liqueur and plenty of ice into a cocktail shaker and shake till your hands freeze. Strain into chilled martini glasses and garnish with three coffee beans.

The Twist: Mr Black Cold Brew Coffee Liqueur offers half the sugar and more coffee for your coin.


Dusk cocktails martini


The Vesper first appeared inIan Fleming’s Casino Royale, published in 1953 and gets its name from fictional double agent Vesper Lynd. Here’s an Italian take on the Vesper, using a slightly sweet aperitif (Cocchi Americano). 

Need: London dry gin (30ml), vodka (30ml), and Cocchi Americano Italian aperitif wine (15ml). Otherwise, you’d usually use Lilet blanc aperitif.

Method: Combine everything in a large glass. Fill with ice and stir until cold. Strain into a chilled stemmed cocktail glass. Garnish with a grapefruit twist. Read a Graham Greene novel.



The Gibson


The Martini‘s savory second cousin, the Gibson, uses a pickled cocktail onion in place of the typical briny olive to add an umami undertone. The Gibson is believed to have been created by San Francisco businessman Walter D.K. Gibson in the late 1800s, who thought that eating onions prevented colds, hence the addition of the mini allium. (Ernest Hemingway was a lover of martinis and often took his Gibson garnished with frozen Spanish cocktail onions—he preferred them frozen to keep the gin as cold as possible.)

Need: Gin (75ml), dry vermouth (15ml), and cocktail onion garnish.

Method: Add the ingredients into a mixing glass with ice and stir. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a cocktail onion.


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