Drinking like a man isn’t about pounding back shots and beers or downing “40’s” on a street corner. Men’s drinking habits have also come a long way from the days when a “Man’s” drink was a shot of “Red Eye” in a dirty glass. There may also come a time to retire the Jägerbomb or whatever else was popular during your time at college and save those drinks for the occasional reunion.

A simple change that men often make is the switch to base spirits such as Bourbon or Scotch, poured “neat” or on the rocks. While there is certainly a time and place for such libations, we should also look to add some variety to our drinks.

As we grow older, we hopefully mature and gain some sophistication. Our drinking habits should also mature to reflect our lifestyle and tastes. A well made and properly presented cocktail is a sight to behold and a joy to imbibe. Cocktail making can be an art but, it’s a skill that is easily learned. Every man should learn a handful of basic cocktails to add to his repertoire.

The cocktail has had a long and illustrious history. It was first described in 1806 as a drink made with spirits of any kind, sugar, water and bitters.

Since then, the popularity of cocktails has had its ups and downs. Obviously, the prohibition period of the 1920’s was a bad time for cocktails. Oh, there were places to drink surreptitiously such as speakeasies, but drink quality was certainly suspect.

Another bad time in cocktail history, in my opinion, was the “Martini” craze from 1990 to 2000. Anything poured into a cocktail glass was mislabeled as a Martini or had the suffix “-tini” appended to it. My personal pet peeve was the substitution of Vodka for Gin in the classic Dry Martini. The proper name of a cocktail made with Vodka, Vermouth and Bitters is a Kangaroo Cocktail. I don’t know many men who would order that drink by its proper name. If anything, it would be better to ask for a Vodkatini. But there again is that awful “tini” appendage.

This cocktail “boom” also saw an increase in the size of cocktails. But, that size increase was not due to larger alcohol pours. The increase was caused by cheap juices and other fillers. A proper cocktail should only be 3 or 4 ounces at most. Any larger and you run the risk of too much dilution due to ice melting or the drink becoming too warm because it takes a longer time to drink. Harry Craddock, a famous bartender and author of The Savoy Cocktail book once said the best way to drink a cocktail is quickly, while it is still laughing at you.

The following list of classic cocktails will separate the men from the boys. I feel that the six cocktails featured below are worthy of being called a Mans drink. Any decent bar can put these drinks together. They are also easy to learn so you can make them yourself at home.

The Manhattan

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This drink is made with 2 ounces of Whiskey, 1 teaspoon of simple syrup and a dash or two of bitters. Add these ingredients to an ice filled mixing tin and stir until the mixing tin frosts over on the outside. The alcohol will be sufficiently chilled and diluted at this time.

Strain the ingredients into a cocktail glass and garnish with a cherry or lemon twist.
Step up your game by using a Rye Whiskey for a spicier flavor and upgrade the common neon red Maraschino cherry for a homemade Brandied or spiced cherry.

The Dry Martini

A staple of the business man’s lunch in the 50’s and 60’s, the Dry Martini is a bracing, savory cocktail when made well. A proper Dry Martini is made with 1 ½ ounces of Gin, ½ ounce of Dry Vermouth and one dash of Orange Bitters.

Stir these ingredients in an ice filled mixing tin to chill and dilute. Strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with a lemon twist. Never shake a Martini. Shaking a cocktail made entirely of clear liquids only introduces ice chips and clouds the drink making for a less than perfect presentation. The extra ice chips also add unwanted dilution.

The Vesper

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Created by Ian Fleming for his James Bond book series, the Vesper is a variation on the Dry Martini. The Vesper is comprised of ½ ounce of Vodka, 1 ½ ounces of Gin and ¼ ounce of Lillet Blanc which takes the place of bitters.

Stir these ingredients in an ice filled mixing tin to chill and dilute. Strain into a cocktail glass and garnish with a lemon twist.

The Old-Fashioned

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The epitome of the definition of the word cocktail, an Old Fashioned cocktail when made properly is a delicious, complex cocktail. If it’s not made well, it could be a watered down mess of crushed fruit in a glass.

An Old Fashioned is made with 2 ounces of Bourbon Whiskey, 1 teaspoon of simple syrup and a dash of Angostura Bitters.

It is built right into the glass it is to be drunk from. Add the simple syrup and bitters to the glass, half fill the glass with ice and stir. Pour in the Bourbon and then using a vegetable peeler, peel a large piece of orange directly over the glass so the orange oils are expressed into the drink. Add the peel to the drink when done. Next, fill the glass with ice and stir again. Garnish with a cherry.

The Dark and Stormy

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Another cocktail that is built right into the glass is the Dark and Stormy. The Signature drink of Gosling’s Rum, this cocktail should only be made using Gosling’s Black Seal Rum. Any substitution will just not be the same.

In a tall glass, add ice, 1 ½ ounces of Gosling’s Black Seal Rum and top it off with Ginger Beer. Stir the ingredients and garnish with a lime.

The Moscow Mule

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This drink has a fairly colorful history. It was created in 1941 at the Cock ‘n’ Bull pub in Hollywood, CA. The pub has a house brand of Ginger Beer that was not selling well. At the same time, John Martin, head of G.F. Heublein & Bros. was trying to get their new product, Smirnoff Vodka on the market. They decided to combine their products and ordered engraved, copper mugs to hold their new drink. Martin went door to door, visiting neighborhood bars with a mug, a bottle of Smirnoff and one of the first Polaroid cameras on the market. Martin would ask the barman to pose with a mug and the bottle of Vodka for two photos. One photo stayed at the bar and the other photo was shown to the next barman as proof that their competition was serving the new cocktail. It was a successful campaign as sales of Smirnoff went through the roof.

The Moscow Mule is very simple to make. Add 2 ounces of Vodka and ½ ounce of fresh lime juice to a copper mug or glass filled with ice. Top off with ginger beer and serve. You can garnish this drink with a slice of lime if you desire. While any glass will do fine, I think this cocktail’s history deserves the copper mug.

There you have it, a good cross section of cocktails using a variety of base spirits and mixology techniques. Those six drinks taste and look good while adding a bit of class to your drinking experience. Order one of these the next time you are out on the town or try your hand at home bartending and start drinking like a man.