Saturday, January 9, 2021
8-9:30 PM CDT
Matt Regan, Instructor
Classic Cocktails 102
It is time to turn back the cocktail clock, both literally and figuratively. Join me for Classic Cocktails 102: Pre-Prohibition Standards. In this class we will use true classics that date back more than 100 years to demonstrate and teach techniques, spirits, ratios and flavor combinations. A new menu will make this 102 class appealing to veterans of our Classic Cocktail series, but the simple recipes will also make this class accessible to neophytes who have yet to join us for our previous installments.
What You Will Learn
- Equipment – The eight must have tools (or solid substitutes) you need to have on hand
- Spirits – What to keep in stock, and how to store it
- Accoutrement – The necessary ingredients needed to compliment the star of the show
- Technique – It takes more than just talent (aka spirits) to assemble the perfect drink
Pre-prohibition cocktails are marked by simple recipes that let their ingredients shine. They are often spirit forward, although we are choosing to dabble in some citrus with this menu to be sure we have something for everyone. We have already covered several of the great cocktails of this era in other Classic Cocktails classes, so this menu is focused on lesser-known, but equally important and delicious libations.
- Sidecar – a French, or at least European, entrant on our menu, and the youngest of the group (arguably not quite “pre-prohibition”, but still not a product of prohibition so it is in the style we are highlighting and brings in some lesser used spirits that have long, distinguished histories.
- Gimlet – easily dating back to the 19th century, this simple and delicious cocktail was born to prevent scurvy at sea, so not only does it provide health benefits, it also serves as a fantastic canvas to layer in other fresh flavors.
- Sazerac – a truly classic cocktail with a distinguished and well documented history, invented by Peychaud, the nineteenth century apothecary whose bitters are still a key ingredient in today’s recipe.
- Martinez – a cousin of the Manhattan, and the drink widely credited for being a precursor to the martini, a sip of this late nineteenth century classic will leave you wondering why anyone thought to riff on it at all.
What to Bring to Class
If you have been looking for an excuse to outfit a home bar, like gadgets, or simply believe in the old adage “you should always have the right tool for the job,” then get your hands on this equipment prior to class (Amazon smile links provided, so you can double down on your gift to PFLASA, but the retailer of your choice will do!):
- Bar spoon – A bar spoon is long and balanced, with a spiral pattern along its stem that makes stirring easier
- Mini measuring cup / Jigger – there is no “eyeballing it” in craft cocktails
- Hawthorne strainer – Pour the cocktail, leave the mixing ice
- Mixing glass – Do not tell James Bond I said this, but many cocktails are better stirred than shaken
- Shaker – Do not fear the Boston (two piece) shaker, it is far superior to the frustrating 3-Piece shaker
- Ice mold – We like our cocktails cold, but we do not like them watered down
- Vegetable peeler – good news, you probably already have this on hand!
- Citrus Juicer – a little fresh squeezed citrus juice goes a long way in making a great cocktail. Something like this, or a simple reemer will get the job done.
If you are not yet ready to commit to purchasing equipment, feel free to substitute any of the above with some of these suggestions that you may be able to find around the house:
- Bar spoon – a regular spoon, a butter knife, your finger?
- Measuring cup / Jigger – kitchen measuring cups and spoons, medicine cup (yes, I went there, call it a metaphor)
- Hawthorne Strainer – mesh strainer, mini colander, plastic lid
- Mixing glass – Yeti tumbler, 3-Piece shaker, mason jar, large cup, pint glass
- Shaker – Yeti tumbler (with lid), 3-Piece shaker, mason jar (with lid), Nalgene (large mouth water bottle)
- Ice mold – small bowls, shot glasses, cupcake tin, aluminum foil molds (I will be honest, most of these ideas are a reach, but feel free to get creative)
- Vegetable peeler – paring knife (seriously, you don’t have a vegetable peeler? Please just get a vegetable peeler!)
- Citrus Juicer – your hands, literally. Just squeeze that lemon over a bowl
It is going to take some alcohol to make cocktails! Depending on what you want to be prepared to make the night of the class and/or where your spirit preferences lie, have a few of the following on hand (no need to get them all!):
- Cognac (Sidecar) – No need to break the bank here since we are mixing, you can even feel free to sub in regular brandy. That said, you can usually find a VSOP in the low $30 range, and make some great cocktails with it (or even sip it!).
- Triple Sec (Sidecar) – an orange liquor, it is the primary source of sweetness in your margarita. You can go with high end brands like Grand Marnier and Cointreau, or go with a less expensive local option like Paula’s Texas Orange.
- Gin (Gimlet) – stick with a classic London dry gin when stocking your bar, then branch out into other varieties as you want to explore the genre. Brokers is a great London dry gin to start out with if you need a recommendation.
- Rye (Sazerac) – a dry (less sweet) whiskey than bourbon, it provides a great backbone to spirit forward drinks. You can sub this in for bourbon in most cocktails if you want to cut the sweetness typically to most bourbons.
- Peychaud Bitters (Sazerac) – the next most readily available cocktail bitter. These were invented in New Orleans and are a key ingredient in many of the city’s famous cocktails.
- Absinthe – an anise flavored, high abv spirit that was illegal in most of the world for much of the twentieth century, it was a popular and common ingredient in early cocktails and has made a comeback since becoming legal again in the 1990’s. We will not use much, buy a small bottle if you can find one.
- Barrel Aged Gin – yes, gin, like many other spirits, can be barrel aged and once you make a few cocktails with it you will wonder why it is not done more often! The gold standard is Ransom Old Tom Gin, but another favorite is Barr Hill Tomcat Gin, or you can stay local and get Waterloo’s barrel aged gin, which is also delicious.
- Sweet Vermouth (Martinez) – vermouth is a fortified wine that pairs beautifully with higher proof spirits. Do not cut corners on vermouth, it is worth getting the good stuff (and still not very expensive). I strongly recommend Cocchi Vermouth di Torino or Carpano Antica, but Dolin will do in a pinch. Dry vermouth and blanco vermouth have their places in cocktails, but for our menu be sure to go sweet!
- Orange Bitters (Martinez) – maybe the second most common cocktail bitter, which makes them easy to find by bitters standards. Pick them up at your favorite liquor store, you will be glad you did.
- Maraschino Liqueur – a sweet and viscous cherry flavored liqueur, the best known variation is Luxorardo (of Maraschino Cherry fame), although there are other brands and you could even get by with another cherry liqueur, like Cherry Heering.
Be sure to have the following handy as well to round out your ingredient list:
- Sugar (for rich simple syrup, a 2:1 ratio of sugar to water; feel free to make ahead of time)
- Lemons (at least 2 or 3, we will use for juicing and for garnish, so do not juice them all!)
- Limes (at least 3 or 4)
- Cucumber (optional)
- Flat Leaf Parsley (optional)