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What Is THE Classic Cocktail - Probably NOT What You Think

The classic cocktail infographic with martini & manhattan.

A Tricky Drink Question

If you asked a random group of people, “What is THE classic cocktail?” The likely responses to this “trick question” would be split about half and half with 50 percent saying it was the Martini and the other 50 percent answering that it’s the Manhattan. That’s because most don’t know that the Classic Cocktail is an actual drink recipe and not simply a description referencing any number of hall of fame mixology masterpieces along with some not so hallowed ones.

Cocktail Confusion Comparable To Comedy Classic

It’s sort of like that old Bud Abbott & Lou Costello comedy routine, “Who’s on first?” That skit is a play on words where Who is the name of the baseball player playing 1st base and shares some of the same confusing similarities as this drink’s name does.

Abbott: What is the classic cocktail?

Costello: A Martini.

Abbott: Yes, that’s certainly a timeless tipple, but what’s the classic cocktail?

Costello: OK, well the Manhattan is a classic cocktail.

Abbott: Yes, but that’s just another vintage drink. What is THE classic cocktail?

Costello: The?

Abbott: The one and only, whose name also describes itself and sometimes other drinks too.

Costello: Is it Fancy?

Abbott: No, fancy does too, but this one is classic.

Google, Yahoo and Bing Walk Into A Bar

You think Lou is confused? Google, Yahoo and Bing walk into a bar searching for ‘THE’ classic cocktail recipe since they can’t locate one either. They know the definition* of ‘A’ classic cocktail and that there sure are lots of ‘THEM’ classic cocktails in Top 10 lists, but ‘THOSE’ are not ‘THE’ one. So, Ask the bartender queries Quora’s queue of quaffers and still can’t find any expert Answers dot com to the question.

How To Mix The Classic Cocktail

Published in the 1930 Savoy recipe collection by Harry Craddock, his formulation had proportions of 1/2 brandy and 1/6 each for the lemon juice, maraschino and curacao orange liqueurs. The variation below reduces the sweetness, especially when not opting for a sugar frosted rim when preparing.

The Classic Cocktail Drink Recipe:

  • 1 oz  brandy
  • 1/2 oz  lemon juice
  • 1 1/2 tsp  maraschino liqueur
  • 1 1/2 tsp  curacao

Measure ingredients into a shaker with ice. Shake well and strain into a chilled martini glass. Optional serving methods include rubbing lemon on lip of glass to coat rim with superfine sugar and garnishing with a lemon twist. A channel knife is very handy and makes cutting citrus peel garnish spirals a cinch.

Help Spread The Word That The Classic Cocktail Is The Name Of A Drink AND A Drink Description

You may use the infographic above for free on your website. This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License which allows for redistribution, commercial and non-commercial, as long as it is passed along unchanged and in whole, with credit to the original work.

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* - classic cocktail recipes are generally defined as those appearing between 1887 and 1934 (post Jerry Thomas’ Bartender’s Guide and prior to the end of U.S. Prohibition), so ‘the’ qualifies per this timeframe. Not to be confused with the 1806 definition of ‘a’ cocktail which is technically a mixture of any kind of spirit with sugar, water and bitters.

† - as of this writing, nothing on page 1 or 2 anyway. Individual search results vary though and are said to be personalized based on over 200 factors and counting. However, this appears to be confusion over the drink(s) that Google, Yahoo and Bing think you are looking for.

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