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?
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.
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.
In Barbados, rum defines a well-balanced thirst quencher
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.
• 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
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.”