The bar industry sometimes gets a bad rap but fortunately, there has been a bit of a resurgence in preference for a classic, well-made, hand-crafted cocktail and that is a very good thing. The culture of the cocktail is one of some sophistication and class that elevates what would be an otherwise stupefying element—alcohol—into something far more elegant.
This is especially true of École du Bar de Montréal cocktails made during the Prohibition in the United States. At this time, alcohol was banned in the United States so those who wanted a drink had to get one at a speakeasy. These were underground clubs that served, basically, homemade alcohol; and those spirits were not always the most pleasant to drink straight. Fortunately, creative bartenders figured out how to hide the bitterness and spice with complex recipes that we now get to enjoy nearly a century later.
If the Martinez was not the first modern cocktail ever served, it was definitely among the first. It is older, in fact, than its far more famous descendant, the Martini. While the classic martini is, basically, vodka or gin shaken with, perhaps, a little dry vermouth, the Martinez consists of gin and sweet vermouth and just a dash of bitters, shaken with another dash of maraschino liqueur.
Often called the “Prohibition Gem,” the Southside is rumored to have been a favorite of notorious gangster Al Capone (and his henchmen). The standard recipe consists of gin, lime, mint, and simple syrup. If you are familiar with popular modern cocktails you might recognize these ingredients also belong to the Cuban concoction, the Mojito. The Southside, though, is far more herbaceous and complex than its smoother, sweeter, cooler cousin.
This drink is as simple as 1-2-3; and it doesn’t get much better than that. Just take 1 oz of lemon juice, 2 oz of Cointreua, and 3 oz of cognac, shake, and strain in a cocktail glass. Easy and straightforward this is a bright, but still furtive, cocktail rumored to have been named after an army captain who preferred to ride in a sidecar on his way to the bar.
The OLD FASHIONED
Finally, the Old Fashioned dates back to the 19th century, which dates it long before the beginning of the Prohibition. It is a simple drink that consists of a sugar cube muddled with orange bitters, followed by whiskey or brandy poured over the mix and then garnished with an orange peel.