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Back to Basic Cocktails

Back to Basic Cocktails

athy Stephenson | The Salt Lake Tribune

In 2009, we went back to basics. We planted gardens, cooked at home and made do with less.

The fundamentals also applied to our cocktails. The sweet, fruity, excessive spirits of the past decade were slowly replaced by the simpler drinks of yesterday.

“Everything old is new again,” explains Marilee Guinan, the bar manager at Park City’s High West Distillery. “People are really focused on drinks that highlight the distilled spirits, not cover them up.”

Guinan and Dave Perkins, the owner of High West, compiled this list of traditional drinks–as well as recipes–that will make a comeback in 2010.

So this New Year’s Eve, say goodbye to banana martinis and pomegranate cosmos and raise a glass filled with one of these seven classic cocktails:

Whiskey Smash – This drink, an early cousin to the mint julep, dates back to at least 1862 when it was featured in Jerry Thomas’ How to Mix Drinks . Lemon, mint and sugar are muddled, or smashed with a pestle, before adding whiskey.

Whiskey Cocktail – Believed to be one of the first cocktails invented. In the mid-to-late 1800s, bartenders began making new variations to this classic whiskey drink. Purists who wanted to avoid the newfangled options were forced to order an Old Fashioned to enjoy the original.

Vesper – Ian Fleming, author of the James Bond secret-agent series, created this martini-like drink in his 1953 novel Casino Royale . Bond named the cocktail after a love interest, Vesper Lynd, because once he tasted the drink, it was all he wanted.

Sazerac – The official cocktail of New Orleans was invented in the 1830s by Antoine Amadie Peychaud. A native of the West Indies, Peychaud owned a drug store and created his own medicinal mixtures for curing ailments. His clients came to love his medicinal toddy, a mixture of absinthe, rye whiskey, Cognac, simple syrup and Peychard Bitters.

Rock and Rye – This legendary drink was originally concocted as a way to cure a cold. Years ago, it contained a bitter-tasting herb called horehound, a natural cough suppressant. Bartenders added sweet rock candy to cover up the medicinal taste. Today lemon juice, not bitter herbs, is added. The drink can be consumed over ice or served warm as a hot toddy.

Manhattan – This classic bourbon cocktail is one of the first extensions of a martini. Legend has it that when Samuel J. Tilden was elected governor of New York in 1874, socialite Jennie Jerome – later Lady Randolph Churchill, mother of Sir Winston Churchill – held a celebration in his honor at the Manhattan Club in New York City. The bartender created this drink for the occasion.

Gimlet – There’s an ongoing bartenders’ debate about whether to use fresh lime juice or bottled Rose’s Lime Juice in this cocktail, which dates back to the mid-1800s. The original drink contained Rose’s sweetened, preserved juice, which at the time was the only way to get fresh lime flavoring. (Sailors kept a bottle with them on long voyages as a way to avoid scurvy, a vitamin C deficiency.) Of course, now fresh limes are available year-round. The gimlet was originally made with gin, but vodka became a popular substitute in the 1990s.

kathys@sltrib.com