Frosé (Frozen Rosé), might have had a moment, but in the world of cocktails, the classics are still king. Indeed, who can resist the old school glamour of a cocktail shaker, measuring jigger and stylish martini glasses? These iconic cocktails and their accessories elevate the hum-drum and every day into glamour and escapism, allowing you to imagine that you are James Bond leaning nonchalantly against the bar or Carrie Bradshaw twirling in Manolos.
But what exactly are the classics and which ones should you be trying in 2019? Our Bascule Bar mixologists have the answers and the spirits to match.
Classic cocktails reach as far back as the 1800s and punch (essentially the grandmother of cocktails) is even mentioned in the 1600s. While the origin of the name ‘cocktail’ is much disputed (the stories vary from the preposterous to the possible), there is one man in particular who should be credited with the popularisation of the drink. Jerry Thomas, an American bartender, published his bartender’s guide in 1862. He distinguished cocktails from a host of other tipples by the presence of bitters. Nowadays, ‘cocktail’ is a term loosely used to describe any mixed drink, though the classics often still have bitters in them.
Onto the imbibing! While there are many classic cocktails to sample, these are our top favourities, with the stories to match. Ask our bartenders to sling away.
1. The Old Fashioned
Dating back to 1880, this American drink is still the most popular cocktail in the world. Our award-winning Bascule Old Fashioned is made with Bourbon, muscovado and maple syrup, muddled with bitters and given a classic citrus rind twist. Delectable.
2. The Tom Collins
Memorialised by Jerry Thomas, the Tom Collins is a classic G&T style cocktail made with gin, lemon juice, sugar and soda water. By the late-19th century, the cocktail was being served across America. Much twisted on, the Juan Collins uses Tequila in place of gin, while the Jack Collins uses Applejack, the Ron Collins rum and the Phil Collins Pisco.
3. The Martini
Listed amoungst the top 10 drinks at most bars in the world, The Martini came to fame in the roaring twenties. This strong drink is made with gin and vermouth, and served in its iconic glass, garnished with a lemon twist or olive. You can have it dry (with dry, white vermouth), dirty (a splash of olive brine), perfect (equal amounts of sweet and dry vermouth), shaken (over ice ala James Bond), or stirred.
4. The Negroni
Legend has it that the Negroni was born in Florence, Italy, when Count Camillo Negroni concocted it by asking his bartender to strengthen his favourite cocktail, the Americano, by adding gin rather than the normal soda water. Whatever the truth, the ruby red charmer made of one part gin, one part vermouth rosso (red, semi-sweet) and one part Campari, garnished with orange peel continues to win over palates the world over.
5. French 75
Ah finally, something with champagne in it! The drink, called Soixante Quinze in French dates to World War I and an early form was created in 1915 at the New York Bar in Paris—later Harry’s New York Bar—by barman Harry MacElhone. The combination was said to have such a kick that it felt like being shelled with the powerful French 75mm field gun. A traditional French 75 is a cocktail made from gin, Champagne, lemon juice and sugar.
6. The Margarita
The first known publication of a margarita recipe was in the December 1953 issue of Esquire, with a recipe calling for an ounce of tequila, a dash of triple sec and the juice of half a lime or lemon. Nowadays, you can have it in just about any flavour, crushed and blended or poured over ice. Just do not forget the salt.
7. The Sazerac
The Sazerac story goes that back in 1838, Creole apothecary Antoine Peychaud invented the Sazerac in his shop at 437 Royal Street. They say he first served it to his fellow Masons after hours in an egg cup –a coquetier—a word that some insist morphed into “cocktail.” The name of the drink comes from Peychaud’s favourite French brandy, Sazerac-de-Forge et fils. Requiring two glasses, this potent drink is made with 1/4 oz Absinthe, a sugar cube, 1 1/2 oz rye whiskey or cognac and three dashes of Peychaud’s Bitters.
8. Aperol Spritz
The Italian aperitif, Aperol, was created in Padua in 1919. The original recipe has supposedly remained unchanged over time but it was not until the 1950s that Aperol Spritz became a popular alternative to the usual Venetian mix of white wine and soda. Now, the happy orange pre-dinner drink is more popular than ever before! Simply add Aperol, prosecco and a splash of soda to a glass with ice and serve with a slice of orange. Summer in a glass we say.
9. The Whisky Sour
The first mention of a whiskey sour was in 1870. The drink containing whiskey (usually bourbon), lemon juice, sugar and optionally, a dash of egg white, hasn’t changed much since. However, at Bascule, ours is a little special. Made with local whiskey, as well as Rooibos tea, we’ve taken a classic and put a distinctly South African spin on it. You will have to try it to see if it measures up! Sipping at Bascule this summer
There is much to be enjoyed at Bascule. The nautical décor and ‘below deck’ feel mirrors the marina we are poised on – Table Mountain an awesome backdrop to any sundowner. Our whisky collection (with over 400 varieties from around the world) is a treat for any whisky lover, all of whom are welcomed to taste and savour at leisure, guided by our skilled sommeliers. Live music plays on weekends, beckoning the night set to unwind in style.
Our Bascule Bar is ready to welcome guests from 12pm-12am daily, so pop in for lunch, or while away the evening. There is, after all, a lot to be sampled.
Blog post by Tarah Darge