Discover where and how your favourite cocktails were invented…
Let’s face it, there are few greater pleasures in life than settling in at our favourite bar at the end of a long week to indulge in a crisp cocktail or sitting by a sun-soaked beach to enjoy a perfectly chilled aperitif. Whether it be a Negroni, Martini or Pina Colada – we can always count on the fact that every bar in the world will know how to make our favourite libation.
However – how did this come to be? Few of us know the history behind our favourite cocktails and how they perfectly encapsulate the places, history and heritage of where they were born.
Interestingly, many of our favourite mixology staples find their origins within the great hotels of the turn of the 20th century – from the European Grand Tour hotels to the thriving metropolitan palaces of the industrial age. DDW explores some of the all-time favourites (and how to make them):
Grand Hotel Baglioni, Florence
This classic came to be during the early 1900s after a regular guest at the Grand HotelBaglioni asked the bartender to add a measure of gin to his Americano cocktail (Campari with a dash of Vermouth).
The combination was a success and quickly caught on, adopting the name ‘Negroni’ after Count Camillo Negroni, the very man who first ordered it. These days, Campari sell their own pre-mixed bottles of Negroni, but many fans still feel that there’s nothing quite like preparing one for yourself from scratch.
30ml dry gin
Mix the ingredients in a glass with ice, before serving either on the rocks or straight up.
The Knickerbocker, New York
Whilst a certain Mr. Bond may have popularised the Dry Martini, it was in fact invented by a Mr. Martini di Arma di Taggia; a bartender at New York’s famous Knickerbocker Hotel. The story goes that di Taggia served regular Knickerbocker guest John D. Rockefeller this ‘unfamiliar concoction’ in 1906 and that Rockefeller instantly fell in love with it – dubbing the drink ‘The Martini’ after the man himself. Unfortunately, we don’t know whether Rockefeller liked them shaken or stirred…
60ml Gin (or Vodka for the Vodka lovers)
25ml dry vermouth
15ml sweet vermouth
Optional dash citrus, orange bitters
Mix ingredients in a glass with ice, then serve ‘straight-up’ and with a twist or 3 olives (if no citrus/orange bitters used)
Hotel Metropole, Brussels
The Black Russian was invented by barman Gustave Tops in the late 1940s, when American Ambassador to Luxembourg – and renowned socialite – Perle Mesta visited the bar at the Hotel Metropole. Tops decided to mix a signature drink for Mesta, serving her this now-classic combination of Vodka and Kahlúa. The Black Russian has inspired many variations over the years, with some adding milk or even Irish Cream to the mix, but this original, simplistic pick-me-up is still the firm favourite among many.
50ml premium vodka
Mix the two ingredients by stirring for thirty seconds, then serve over ice.
The Ritz, Paris
The Side Car has been a staple at The Ritz in Paris since the early 1920s, where it is believed to have been invented. This classic favourite has been a mixologist favourite since inception and has legions of fans around the world. In a recent bout to claim his own stake in the history of this storied drink; current Ritz Paris bar manager Colin Peter Field broke a world record by creating a decadent twist on the classic and mixing ‘the world’s most expensive cocktail – a heady combination of Ritz Fine Champagne and 1865 Cognac. Fans can buy this ‘Ritz Sidecar’ for a mere €1,500 at The Ritz’ famous Hemingway Bar or attempt to make their own with the recipe below:
30ml Triple Sec (and a splash of Champagne if desired)
22.5ml freshly squeezed lemon juice
10ml chilled water
Shake the ingredients together with ice, then strain into a coupe glass to serve.
St. Regis, New York
The classic choice for ‘the morning after the night before’, this vodka-tomato brunch concoction was first put together by famous St. Regis bartender Fernand Petiot in 1934. While the name ‘Bloody Mary’ is inarguably this cocktail’s most recognised title, the drink is now listed as the Red Snapper on the menu at its New York home – the St. Regis changed the name of the drink 80 years ago, to avoid offending their elegant clientele!
120ml tomato juice
Pinch black pepper
Mix the ingredients in a glass with ice, and shake. Serve over ice, with two sticks of celery.
For those of you that fancy a change from Petiot’s original recipe, check out our article on some fun variations.
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