From the cocktail’s early days, two fancy recipes…


Story by Sam Bygrave
Photography by Steve Brown

A few weeks back we took a look at how the old time masters of bartending — the likes of Jerry Thomas, Harry Johnson et. al. — dressed up the cocktails of their day. Of course, in their day, a cocktail was spirit, sugar, water and bitters. They took to ‘improving’ them with dashes of fancy European liqueurs (like the maraschino in the Improved Brandy Cocktail below); they made their drinks ‘fancy’ with lemon twists rubbed around the rim of the glass and dropped in to garnish, and by serving them in ‘fancy’ wine glasses (as in the Fancy Gin Cocktail below).

And note the use of genever in the Fancy Gin Cocktail — its rich character (as opposed to delicate gin) is why it stands up in a such a spirit-forward drink.

Take a look at the two recipes below, and give them a go — it’s the only way you’ll get a taste for the early days of cocktail experimentation.



Improved Brandy Cocktail

50ml H by Hine Cognac
2 dashes of Angostura Bitters
7.5ml sugar syrup
7.5ml maraschino liqueur
5ml absinthe

Stir all ingredients and strain into a chilled coupe. Moisten the rim with lemon twist, dropping the garnish into the drink.



Fancy Gin Cocktail

50ml Bols Genever
2 dashes Boker’s Bitters
5ml sugar syrup
5ml triple sec or curacao

Stir and strain into a chilled cocktail glass.

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