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Acquaint yourself with these classic creations, which have survived decades and have remained sophisticated choices to this day

When walking into a swanky bar, or a buzzing nightclub, you may not be aware of the story behind your usual orders or favoured cocktails. Many top-billed libations on today’s bar menus are creations that have a long and storied past. With each sip, think about the era these cocktails were born in, and take a trip through time.

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1. Boulevardier


  • 1 1/4 ounces bourbon (or rye)
  • 1 ounce Campari
  • 1 ounce sweet vermouth
  • Garnish: orange twist

While often compared to the classically European Negroni, the Boulevardier cocktail is around 20 years older than its counterpart and has its history linked to two American gentlemen. Mixed with bourbon whiskey, Campari and sweet vermouth and served over ice or straight up, this vintage cocktail is an option for those who love smoky, bittersweet notes. The creation of the Boulevardier can be attributed to an American writer Erskine Gwynne, who was the publisher of Boulevardier magazine (specifically for expats residing in Paris in the 1920s), and the notable Harry McElhone of Harry’s New York Bar in Paris. Its name means “wealthy, fashionable socialite” which does tell us a great deal about who used to enjoy it back in the day.

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2. Sazerac


  • 1/4 ounce Absinthe
  • 2 1/2 ounces XO cognac
  • 1/2 ounce Cointreau
  • 1/2 ounce Suze
  • Garnish: Lemon twist
  • Glass: Champagne flute

New Orleans’s jazzy charm and unique allure is bottled up into the Sazerac cocktail which was supposedly invented in the mid-19th century at the Sazerac Coffee House. Originally, it was made with Sazerac de Forge et Fils Cognac. It is said that the cocktail was stopped because of a brandy shortage that occurred because of the phylloxera epidemic which ended up damaging many European vineyards. However, bartenders decided to change things up and swap the cognac for whiskey, which became the Sazerac’s new main liquor for quite some time. This vintage tipple is quite comparable to the flavour profile of an old fashioned. It’s deep, bold, smoky and quite strong. The beverage is so linked with New Orleans that the Sazerac was named the city’s official cocktail in 2008.

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3. Sidecar


  • 2 ounces cognac
  • 1 ounce Cointreau
  • 1 ounce lemon juice

This prohibition cocktail is frequently spotted in period pieces, clasped in the hands of a sophisticated dame. Some say that this First World War era creation got famous in Harry’s New York Bar in Paris during the 1920s. It is said that the cocktail was given its name because the first person to order it was a man who arrived at the bar in a sidecar. Whatever the truth may be, this beverage is one of the most famous cognac cocktails. With cognac, orange liqueur like Cointreau, fresh lemon juice and delicately sugared rim, the Sidecar is favoured for its dry, tart and sweet notes. A delicate coupe or martini glass would be the ideal vessel for this vintage pour, coming straight out of an ice-filled shaker.

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4. Gimlet


  • 2 1/2 ounces gin
  • 1/2 ounce lime juice,
  • 1/2 ounce simple syrup

Another iconic cocktail is the Gimlet, simply made of gin (although some may use vodka) and lime juice. Its origins, while fascinating, are not glamorous; the mixture is rumoured to have been concocted by British sailors in the 18th century. This tipple is often called another variation of a gin sour. The tale says that sailors were battling scurvy and needed to ingest citrus to help cure the illness. What happened was the men combined the tart liquid with liquor to aid in its consumption. This happy invention not only then helped them beat scurvy, but also birthed the now-beloved Gimlet. The cocktail rocketed to popularity around 1953 when the Raymond Chandler novel The Long Goodbye referenced the drink.

See also: Beginner's Guide To Creating And Enjoying Cocktails: Tips From Kapitolyo's The Lotus Gin Room

5. Tom Collins


  • 2 ounces London dry gin
  • 1 ounce lemon juice, freshly squeezed
  • 1/2 ounce simple syrup
  • Club soda
  • Garnish: lemon wheel or maraschino cherry

The Tom Collins is a classic highball cocktail that came to be in the 19th century, around 1876, and has lasted the test of time. It was originally named the John Collins before popular opinion dubbed it the Tom Collins due to the use of Old Tom Gin. It is rumoured that this iconic cocktail was popularised by a prank called “The Tom Collins Hoax”. In New York City, people told friends to look for a rumbunctious man named Tom Collins at the nearby bar, saying that he had been bad-mouthing them. Upon arrival, when asking the barkeep for Tom Collins, one would receive a zesty, delicious tipple instead! This refreshing gulp can be thought of as a gin sour and is surprisingly easy to create. It contains gin, sugar or simple syrup, lemon juice, and carbonated water. Some compare it to a sparking lemonade, which sounds simply perfect for our tropical weather. With something as fuss-free as this with no special tools are needed at all, you can whip one up right in time for your next happy hour.

See also: Tatler Picks: The Best Gins In Asia 2021

6. Manhattan


  • 2 ounces bourbon or rye
  • 1 ounce sweet vermouth
  • 2 dashes Angostura bitters
  • 1 dash orange bitters
  • Garnish: brandied cherry

Appropriately named after the jewel of the Big Apple, the Manhattan is one of the world’s most famous cocktails, born in the late 1800s. Claimed to be invented by New York City’s Manhattan Club, the drink captivated the hearts of the upper class upon its launch, and has worked its way to nearly every bar-goer’s list. The Manhattan is classically made with American whiskey, vermouth, aromatic bitters and is often served in a dainty coupe. Each dark, smoky, slightly bitter and secretly sweet sip sets the mood and proves why this cocktail has cemented its place in menus the world over.


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