Last Thursday, more than 175 Bostonians braved freezing weather and slippery sidewalks to pack the 47-foot bar at Eastern Standard for a special classic cocktail event hosted by Martini & Rossi and Imbibe Magazine. Guests sampled five cocktails handpicked by Eastern Standard mixologist Jack Cannon (aka “Jackson”): the Belle de Jour, Bobby Burns, Classic Martini, Frisco and Half Sinner Half Saint. “This is great,” said attendee Peter Gumaskas, after his first sip of a Frisco, made with bourbon and Benedictine liqueur. “It’s not too sweet, and the bourbon is not too strong.”
The comment likely would have made special guest—drink historian David Wondrich—smile. Wondrich, author of Killer Cocktails, earlier described the perfect classic cocktail as well-balanced. “A classic cocktail, for me, is from a certain period when ‘cocktails’ was a language that all the best bartenders understood and could work in,” he said. “It should have a distinctive flavor profile: It should taste like itself, not something else. It’s not too sweet, not too sour, not too strong—you shouldn’t just taste the booze. And it doesn’t have to be made with huge amounts of elaborate ingredients.”
Eastern Standard, said Wondrich, has all the hallmarks of a classic cocktail bar: bitters on the back bar, rye whiskey (that’s American straight rye, not Canadian), freshly squeezed juices and a frequently tapped bottle of vermouth.
Later in the evening, Wondrich demonstrated how to make one of his favorite classics, the Saratoga Cocktail, which was circulated in tasting glasses throughout the bar. Here’s the recipe for those who couldn’t make it to the event:
1 oz cognac
1 oz straight rye whiskey
1 oz Martini & Rossi sweet vermouth
2 dashes Fee's Old-Fashioned aromatic bitters or Angostura bitters
Stir ingredients well with cracked ice. Strain into chilled cocktail glass and twist a thinly cut swatch of lemon peel over the top.
—Genevieve Rajewski (photos courtesy Martini & Rossi)
Welcome to Imbibe Magazine's between-issues look at liquid culture with drink recipes, news and more. From coffee to cocktails, Imbibe celebrates your world in a glass.