Friday, 3 May 2013

Friday Cocktail: The Ultimate Vintage Cocktail Guide

Photo: Ken Johnson (CCL)

If, like us, you often dream of getting your Don Draper on and going all glamourous glasses, decadent drinks and vintage va-va-voom, then this post is the one for you.

Of course, there's plenty of places that sell this kind of experience, but we can't always afford to go to Bourne and Hollingsworth or The Savoy, and besides: staying in is the new going out, and it's so easy you really have no excuse.

The Booze

Obviously, this is a good place to start. We should all know the classic cocktails off by heart, but it's all too easy to get distracted by fancy new mixes, so here's a list of some of the classic recipes you should have in your repertoire:

Photo: The Culinary Geek (CCL)
Martini (don't forget the dirty martini and modern twists like our Lime Vodka & Green Tea martini!)
Mint Julep
Gin Fizz
Tom Collins
White Russian
Blue Hawaiian
Gimlet (don't forget our elderflower gimlet!)

Diamond Dash also gives the recipes for the main ones in this fuss-free list, or if you take your Mad Men obsession really seriously then AMCTV have compiled a directory of the Mad Men cocktails too.

Stuck for ideas? You can also visit The Vintage Drink for a fun way to work out how what you've got in the cupboard will turn into a vintage cocktail treat.


If some nights you just can't be bothered with the shaking and the muddling, The Handmade Cocktail Company will come to the rescue! They sell everything from bottles of readymade manhattans to old-fashioned and negroni - 70cl bottles start at £31.95 on the Master of Malt website. They even do a range of genuine vintage cocktails (bottled in the 1970s-80s) if you want your cocktails genuinely retro.

Also, don't forget you can also buy genuine antique spirits to give your cocktails some real history.


If you want to learn how to make vintage cocktails from the experts, there are certainly plenty of books out there (Serious Eats even do a guide on how to choose which one to buy!)

We think the two best ones are Laziz Hamani's Vintage Cocktails (£22.40 at Amazon) or the absolute classic: The Savoy Cocktail Book by Harry Craddock (£8.96 on Amazon), originally published way back in 1930.


Have you read our Martini glass guide? That's a good place to start, and we'll be doing more glasses with class guides over the coming weeks, but make sure you have plenty of sturdy old-fashioned glasses, pretty champagne saucers and margarita glasses too.

You could also do with an ice bucket (we love the cream one from The Cook's Kitchen for £18.65 and M&S' stylish stainless steel number for £29.50) and why not throw in a gorgeous rectangular drinks tray (£40) from Not On The High Street while you're at it?

Lastly, if you're feeling really decadent, you could always splash out and invest in the ultimate in retro drinking: a globe drinks cabinet. At £99.95 from Amazon, this was the cheapest we could find.


You might want to relax in an armchair wearing something sparkly and listen to some cocktail party music while you sip your sidecar: obviously, any of the jazz greats from the 1930s and 40s will be a beautiful soundtrack, but we absolutely love the Vintage Songs, Cocktail Parties CD from Amazon for £7.49. It's got a lot of tracks we'd never heard before and was a nice mix of smooth and spritzy music.

If you'd prefer to stick to the greats, we are in love Cocktails and Crooners (opens in spotify) and this bluesy, relaxing Cocktails Anyone? playlist.

And Finally...

Lastly, if you are looking to get your vintage kicks while out and about (and if you want the vintage hair, clothing and homewares to match your cocktails) you can buy the sparkly new Rough Guide to Vintage London for £7.99. It's kind of my 'when I have the funds' bible.

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