A guide to manly cocktails

barman in tweed

Real men drink cocktails too.
Image source: Shutterstock

Gentlemen, it’s time to liberate yourselves. Desist from ordering your usual pint at the bar and try something different. We’re talking cocktails. And before you scoff, rest assured that real men drink cocktails too.

To help you get started, we’ve produced the ultimate guide to the manliest of cocktails. Eight drinks so rugged that you won’t be ashamed to order them while you’re out. Or even better, impress your guests by hosting a classy party at home. What are you waiting for? Grab your blazer and your pocket square and get mixing…

Old dogs, new tricks

These trusty old dogs are classic, manly cocktails that have stood the test of time. Here are four of our favourite fail-safe recipes, with a few optional twists should you wish to jazz them up.

Vodka Martini


Bond’s favourite tipple is not for the faint-hearted.
Image source: Shutterstock

“Shaken, not stirred,” Vodka Martini is the favoured tipple of that manliest of men, James Bond. This cocktail is not for the faint-hearted, however. The booze within it is diluted only by a 30-second kiss of the ice cubes in the cocktail shaker. The resulting beverage is strong, suave, and powerful. Just like Bond.Here’s how to mix a mean Vodka Martini:

  1. Add plenty of ice to your cocktail shaker
  2. Add one measure of vermouth
  3. Add four measures of vodka
  4. Shake for 30 seconds
  5. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass
  6. Garnish with a twist of lemon zest or green olives

James Goode (The Wine Anorak) tasted the best vodka martini possible when he visited the spiritual home of this famous drink – ‘Dukes’ on Mayfair. Bar manager Alessandro Palazzi mixed it as follows:

“Everything – the glass, the vodka, the vermouth – is kept in a freezer, to avoid the need for ice and the resulting dilution. He takes the glass and pours in a little vermouth. This is then swirled around, and dumped on the carpet (yes). He adds the vodka… takes rind of an amalfi lemon and twists it to release some oils, and then places it into the glass. That’s it.”

Old Fashioned

Old Fashioned

The Old Fashioned is American cool in a glass.
Image source: The LDN Diaries

‘Mad Man’ Don Draper’s cocktail of choice is the Old Fashioned. And old fashioned it is – invented in 19th-century New York to soften the taste of bootleg whiskey, it combines bitters, sugar, ice and bourbon or rye.Here’s how to make the optimum Old Fashioned:

  1. Add a teaspoon of caster sugar to a tumbler
  2. Then add 4 dashes of bitters
  3. Stir until the sugar has dissolved
  4. Add 4 ice cubes
  5. Pour in 1 measure of whiskey and stir for 1 minute
  6. Add ice to the top of your tumbler
  7. Pour in another measure of whiskey and stir again
  8. Garnish with orange peel

If you don’t enjoy whiskey, try Danny’s version as described on the LDN Diaries. He replaces whiskey with ‘a top quality rum’ and uses gomme (sugar syrup) in place of sugar.

Bloody Mary

Bloody Mary

There’s nothing feminine about this spicy cocktail.
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The Bloody Mary is the fabled hangover cure for the morning after the night before. But there’s no scientific evidence for its reputation. As Darryl of Kitchen Geekery notes: “despite the health benefits of the tomato juice, the inclusion of the alcohol is the most likely rationale for any disguising of a hangover”.Like your spice? This is the cocktail for you. Here’s how to make a blinding Bloody Mary:

  1. Add several ice cubes to a long glass
  2. Pour over 2 measures of vodka
  3. Add a squeeze of lemon juice, 4 dashes of Worcestershire sauce and 4 of Tabasco sauce, a pinch of sea salt and a pinch of black pepper
  4. Fill to the top with tomato juice
  5. Stir
  6. Garnish with celery

Martin Isark of Can I Eat It? describes an unusual take on this drink named ‘Mary and the Soldiers’. A half measure of dark brown vermouth (called Punt e Mes) and 1 tsp of balsamic vinegar are added to the classic mix. The ‘soldiers’ bit comes from the garnish: “boiled quails egg and soldiers”. Extraordinary.

Whiskey Sour

Whiskey sour drink

A retro drink for whiskey fans
Image source: Shutterstock

The Whiskey Sour is a classic American drink that has been around since at least the 1860s. Another cocktail with a whiskey base, it also includes lemon juice and egg white. And the classic glace cherry garnish gives the drink a cool retro vibe.Here’s how to make a wonderful Whiskey Sour:

  1. Place ice cubes into a cocktail shaker
  2. Add 2 measures of whiskey or bourbon; ½ measure lemon juice; ½ measure of sugar syrup and ½ a measure of egg white
  3. Shake well
  4. Strain into a highball glass with fresh ice cubes
  5. Garnish with 1 cherry and a slice of orange

“If you want to show off, get hold of Sazerac rye whisky (named after the Sazerac Coffee House in New Orleans),” advises Nick Buglione of the Brixton Blog.

Bartender bafflers

We don’t expect you or your local bartender to have heard of any of the following cocktails. But we do hope that you’ll try these four, slightly more unusual, showstoppers out at home. They’re a sure-fire way to impress your friends:

Corpse Reviver No. 1

Corpse Reviver

To be taken “whenever steam and energy are required.”
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Who can resist a drink with a name like this! The Corpse Reviver No.1 was created at the Savoy in the 1930s. This heady mix of cognac, calvados and vermouth is a force to be reckoned with. The 1930 Savoy Cocktail book states: “To be taken before 11 am, or whenever steam and energy are needed.” We reckon we’d need to wait til mid-afternoon, at least!Here’s how to make a cracking Corpse Reviver No. 1:

  1. Add ice to a cocktail shaker
  2. Pour in 2 measures of cognac
  3. Add 1 measure of calvados
  4. Add 1 measure of sweet vermouth
  5. Shake and strain into a chilled champagne saucer
  6. Garnish with a twist of orange peel

Wondering about the ‘No. 1’ business? Well, there is a Corpse Reviver No. 2 and we have also heard rumours of numbers 3, 4, 5 and 6. If you know more about these lesser-known Corpse Revivers, please share your findings on our Facebook page.

Thyme Out Cocktail

Thyme Out

This herby drink is great one for summer parties.
Image source: Shutterstock

The Thyme Out cocktail is the signature cocktail of Giovanni Spezziga of Scarfes Bar, London. It’s thanks to Dan Toombs (aka The Curry Guy) that we discovered a quick and accessible version of the recipe.Here’s how to make a terrific Thyme Out:

  1. Add 2 measures of gin, 1 measure of yellow chartreuse, 15ml lemon juice, 10ml sugar syrup and 10ml orange bitters to a cocktail shaker
  2. Add 1 sprig of fresh thyme
  3. Shake vigorously
  4. Strain into a chilled glass
  5. Garnish with a new sprig of fresh thyme and a slice of lemon

Dan adds: “I’ll be making this one for friends at the weekend. Served ice cold, I could drink these all day. But then, I wouldn’t get any work done.”

Midsummer Muddle

Group of friends enjoying an evening out in the garden

The perfect drink for summer evenings with friends
Image: Shutterstock/Jacob Lund

This last bartender baffler is the perfect cocktail to share with friends on a summer evening. Invented by Angus Ferguson of the Demijohn Blog, we think it’s going to become a firm favourite. Refreshing and thirst-quenching, it’s the perfect pre-barbecue aperitif.How to make a magnificent Midsummer Muddle:

  1. Fill a large pitcher halfway with ice
  2. Squeeze in fresh lemon juice
  3. Add slices of lemon and cucumber
  4. Add 2 measures of morello cherry brandy liqueur
  5. Add 2 measures of Somerset pomona (cider brandy)
  6. Add 2 measures of Seville orange gin
  7. Top up with lemonade
  8. Stir
  9. Serve in tall glasses with extra ice
  10. Garnish with whole morello cherries

Angus describes the epiphany behind this delectable drink: “We invented our Midsummer Muddle Cocktail on a Summer evening in June when we needed a special drink to celebrate with friends… Our Midsummer Muddle Cocktail was born, and what a drinks party it was!”

So there you have it. Eight manly cocktails to quench your thirst this summer. And if you want to serve your Corpse Revivers in a swanky Samuel Windsor boating blazer or your Vodka Martinis in a dinner jacket from our evening wear range – so much the better!

Posted in Men's Lifestyle.