The Martini

The murky past of a clear favourite

Martini. istockphoto.com

Plenty a tall tale has crossed the polished oak; after all, bartenders like to dish out lively anecdotes along with the gin and spiced nuts. But when it comes to boozy myths, legends, outright lies and wholesale whoppers, “more cling to the Martini than any other cocktail.”

So writes Robert Simonson in his IACP-nominated book The Martini Cocktail (Ten Speed Press). He is fascinated by the outsize role the Martini has played in popular culture ever since its invention in 1849, or maybe it was the 1880s, or possibly 1906, who knows?

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Turf Cocktail

The Turf Cocktail. Istockphoto.com photo

The Turf Cocktail emerged around the same time as the Martini, and some believe it was an early version of it (not likely, but you never know).

• 1.5 oz Plymouth gin
1.5 oz dry vermouth, preferably Noilly Prat
• 2 dashes orange bitters
• 2 dashes maraschino liqueur
• 2 dashes absinthe
• Garnish: olive

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Martini

Martini. istockphoto.com

The classic, as it has evolved over more than a century of opinionated drinking.

• 2.5 oz London dry gin
• 0.25 to 0.5 oz dry vermouth
• Garnish: lemon peel twist or olives

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The Kir Royale

Cocktail of the resistance

The elegant but rebellious Kir Royale is an easy party staple. Dan Toulgoet photo

The Kir Royale (or Royal, if you prefer) is the kind of swanky fizz that could have been conjured up by some posh hotel barkeep trying to impress a well-heeled customer. In fact, its backstory is much more thrilling than that.

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Kir Royale

The elegant but rebellious Kir Royale is an easy party staple. Dan Toulgoet photo

A Kir Royale made with non-Champagne sparkling wine is technically a “Kir Pétillant.” In either case, it’s a perfect drink for festive occasions.

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The Caesar

Canada’s cocktail hits the big five-oh

The Caesar turns 50 in 2019. Istockphoto.com photo

This year Canada’s favourite cocktail turned 50. And like many a middle-aged bon vivant, it has been undergoing something of a makeover.

The Caesar was famously invented in 1969 by a Calgary bartender named Walter Chell, who was tasked with creating a drink to celebrate the opening of a new Italian restaurant at The Calgary Inn (now The Westin). Inspired by the popularity of the Bloody Mary and the umami-rich flavours of spaghetti alle vongole, he mixed together vodka, tomato juice, clam nectar and spices and created Canadian cocktail history.

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Rum island

In Barbados, rum defines a well-balanced thirst quencher

Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. photo

It won’t take long, once you’ve landed in Barbados, before someone presses a glass, sparkling with condensation and filled with an amber elixir, into your hand. Welcome to the famous Barbados rum punch and the taste of island life.

In Barbados, rum punch is enjoyed by everyone from farm workers to property tycoons to pallid newcomers from wintry climes. And it’s enjoyed everywhere from the verandas of grand plantation houses to the tailgate of a jeep in the jungle.

How rum punch came to be the national drink is unknown, but not exactly surprising.

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Barbados Rum Punch

Barbados Tourism Marketing Inc. photo

The classic the way it is made on the island.

• 0.5 oz freshly squeezed lime juice
• 1 oz simple syrup (see note)
• 1.5 oz dark rum (such as Barbados’ own Mount Gay Eclipse, or older)
• 2 oz water
• 1 dash Angostura bitters
• Freshly grated nutmeg

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Lovely Bubbly

The history of the Champagne cocktail

Bubbles flowed freely in Casablanca.

It’s kind of a funny thing, the way Champagne cocktails are considered all girly and twee these days. Back when they were originally invented — arguably a harder-drinking era than our own — they were enjoyed by tough guys and sophisticates alike, and so lauded for their powerful kick, they were named for military weapons.

Today, though, you have celebrated bartenders such as Portland’s Jeffrey Morgenthaler tweeting: “Only old ladies and hookers drink Champagne cocktails.”

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