6 cocktails to try this Summer

Today, as Summer is clearly on its way, I would like to write an article slightly different than usual. I will not directly talk about Paris, but rather about six original cocktails you should try this summer. The good point being that you can order them in any good cafés in Paris! But you can also do them by yourself!

The chaotic White Russian

Vodka has always been a favorite amongst cocktail fans, which is understandable, as this eastern alcohol is as clear as pure water and even when ice-cold, fires up the taste buds. One of the thousands of different cocktails made from vodka is the White Russian, which was on everyone’s lips after the release of the film The Big Lebowski by the Cohen brothers. Duc, the main character in this film was a big fan of this powerful drink.

White Russian

Here is one of the most common recipes for this cocktail: 3cl coffee liqueur, 6cl vodka and milk. Making it is simple: pour the coffee liqueur then the vodka into a whisky glass full of ice, topping it off with chilled milk. For those who like to indulge themselves, add a scoop of vanilla ice cream which adds creaminess and a vanilla flavor to the cocktail. The chilled milk can also be replaced with “crème fraîche”, letting it float to the surface before stirring gently. Different places have their own variations of this cocktail, such as the White Canadian, with goat’s milk instead of cow’s milk, the Blind Russian, with Bailey’s Irish Cream instead of milk or even the Tito Russian, which uses coconut milk. Despite its name, the White Russian isn’t a traditional Russian drink. Its name comes from the main ingredient, vodka, the quintessential Russian alcohol. To digress slightly, you may remember that White Russians were the anti-Bolsheviks at the time of the Russian Civil War. The White Russian became popular around 1960 at events where alcohol flowed freely. Some people, who found straight vodka too strong, preferred to mix it with coffee and milk to reduce the impact. However, it has to be said; the Russians themselves deem this a cocktail for women and tourists only. Today, the White Russian has lost its well-deserved status. It hardly ever appears on bar menus, which is a shame as when it is well prepared (which really isn’t difficult) this cocktail has a lot

The Americano

The Americano was invented in Italy in 1861 at the bar of Gaspare Campari, a place frequented by high society alcoholics such as Verdi, Edward VII and Ernest Hemingway. It was originally called a ‘Milano-Torino’ due to its ingredients: Campari from Milan and Vermouth from Turin. It was only later, when the Americans came to their coasts, that the Italians called this cocktail ‘Americano’ in honor of their momentary guests. The latter took the recipe back home with them to the USA, while adapting it to their taste, in other words with less Vermouth and more soda.

Americano

Another interesting fact is that Campari was considered as a medicinal drink in the United States and was therefore permitted during the prohibition. This had a direct effect on the popularity of the Americano which became a favourite in the US. But in 1933, the end of the prohibition marked the beginning of the Americano’s fall from grace as a fashionable cocktail. It became a casual aperitif, somewhat overtaken by its more powerful variant the Negroni, which quickly became more popular with the Yankees. Meanwhile, Ian Fleming, the inventor of James Bond, wrote a viscous article in which he told the story of having tried an Americano at the Fouquet’s restaurant in Paris and having found it “pathetically weak”. After that, many Americans were ashamed to drink it in public! To what lengths would people go to find good conscience! Anyway, that’s enough for the historic details.

Let’s get down to the heart of the matter, in other words the cocktail itself. The most authentic recipe is as follows: 3cl of Campari, 2cl of red vermouth, 15cl of soda water, a zest of orange and lemon and 4 ice cubes. Remember to pinch the zests for added flavour before adding them to the glass. Some people add a splash of gin for a more virile version, or white vermouth for a gentler taste, or a few drops of Angostura bitter to give it more bite, or dry martini for a dryer taste… Others prefer the Americano as a short drink without soda. As you can see, this adaptable drink can lend itself to lots of variations. Even the proportions of Vermouth and Campari can be adjusted depending on the degree of bitterness desired. To sum up, it is one of the easiest and most pleasant cocktails around. In fact, I am going to go straight down to the hotel bar to sample one (responsibly!) and to check the accuracy of everything that I have just written about the Americano!

The Negroni

The Negroni is very similar to the original Americano as just one the recipe’s ingredients was changed. This change was because of a man: Count Camillo Negroni. It was in a bar in Florence, the Casoni, that the count asked the bartender to replace the Americano’s sparking water with gin. So this is how the famous Negroni cocktail was created between 1919 and 1920.

negroni

The bar in which the cocktail was invented still exists today and is now called Café Giacosa. Its owner is none other than the renowned Italian stylist Roberto Cavalli.

After this small historical aside, let’s get back to the rather simple creation of the Negroni. Pour 2cl of gin, of red vermouth (Martini, Cinzano, etc.) and of Campari, into an Old-Fashioned glass filled with ice. Mix the contents together and then decorate it with a zest or a slice of orange.

The Vesper, James Bond’s cocktail

Now let us talk about James Bond’s renowned drink: the Vesper. The cocktail was thought up by the author Ian Fleming and first appeared in Casino Royale, published in 1953. In this first book about the adventures of the British spy, 007 orders an original drink made from vodka, gin, Lillet (a French aperitif wine) and a slice of lemon peel. He called it Vesper as a tribute to Vesper Lynd, the double agent with whom James Bond had an intense love affair.

Vesper (2)

Excerpt from the film Casino Royale (2006), directed by Martin Campbell, and produced by Michael G. Wilson and Barbara Broccoli. In Bond films, a vodka Martini is wrongly presented as 007’s favorite cocktail. Moreover, the line “Vodka Martini, shaken, not stirred” has become legendary. An enthusiast of several spirits, (vintage wines, Champagne, etc.), James Bond is naturally a vodka-martini drinker. But if we had to associate one cocktail with him, wouldn’t it be the one he invented: the Vesper!

The Amaretto Sour

That one is made from Amaretto, an almond-flavored liqueur, lemon and sugar (pearl, castor or cane sugar). Sometimes you don’t need too many ingredients to make a delicious, strong cocktail. This is precisely the case for a sour (family of cocktails): lemon juice, sugar and spirits are all that you require. The Amaretto Sour, supposedly created in Italy in 1955, was very popular in the United States in the 60s.

Amaretto Sour

It is quite easy to make. First of all, you need to put the ingredients and the ice cubes in a shaker. After mixing them together, all you have to do is to filter and pour your cocktail into a glass. Lastly, decorate your cocktail with a cherry or a slice of lemon and that’s all there is to it! Alexis Le Guen, a barman at the Marie-Suzy, adds grapefruit juice and egg white in his Special Amaretto Sour.

Long Island Iced Tea

The cocktail on everyone’s lips is the Long Island Iced Tea. We actually know very little about the cocktail’s history. Credit for the Long Island Iced Tea is generally given to Robert ‘Rosebud’ Butt, a barman at the Oak Beach Inn in New York. All we know for sure is that he’s crying out for his due.

Long Island

Some say the cocktail was invented back in the 70s at a barmen contest, while others claim it originated in prohibition-era Tennessee. The Long Island Iced Tea shares only the color of its soft-drink eponym, and the five different alcohols in the recipe make a heady cocktail to be enjoyed in moderation.

To make a Long Island Iced Tea, pour vodka (1.5cl), gin (1.5cl), rum (1.5cl), tequila (1.5cl), triple sec (1.5cl) and a squeeze of lemon juice into a shaker. Shake with ice and serve with a splash of coke to give the cocktail its famous color.
And voilà! Sit back and enjoy your refreshing Long Island Iced Tea.

Didier Moinel Delalande is a Director at Hotel Mathurin.

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Comments (3)

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  1. Maryann says:

    What a brilliant article, the history and background info is really interesting and not too heavy a read! I’ve tried the Americano tonight (without soda) and it was perfect. I’m now inspired to have a few friends over for a cocktail night this weekend – and this time I will know more than just how to mix the cocktails! Thanks :-)

  2. Al Milukas says:

    More detials about the Vesper martini, including proper measurements, can be found here! http://livethelive.com/2014/07/15/ill-have-what-james-bond-is-having/

  3. Al Milukas says:

    More details about James Bond’s Vesper martini, including measurements can be found at the link. Thanks!

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