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Apr 02, 2024

Innovation Meets Tradition: Five Modern Classic Cocktails

There are many cocktails that are considered to be modern classics, and are well worth the time and attention of any aspiring mixologist. Here are some ideas!
Written by THE ART OF SHAKING

Last update: Apr 02, 2024 -

2 min read

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When it comes to the art of mixology, you may cut your teeth learning how to make classics such as the Old Fashioned, the Manhattan, or the Cosmopolitan. However, there are many cocktails that are considered to be modern classics, and are well worth the time and attention of any aspiring mixologist. 

These are drinks that have mostly been invented within the last decade or two, but have achieved a level of popularity and universality that have earned them classic status. One of the keys to their success is that they have an accessible but appealing list of ingredients that means they are simple to make and fun to drink! Here are a few examples. 

 

The Penicillin

This is the ultimate modern classic cocktail, created in the mid-2000s by Sam Ross. It’s a riff on the classic whisky sour, given a fresh twist with a smoky gingery taste. It’s made with lemon juice, honey-ginger syrup, and a float of Islay single malt. This produces a sublimely luxurious but comforting aromatic flavour that has proved to be a huge hit.  

 

Paper Plane

Another Sam Ross invention of 2008, this cocktail takes its name from MIA smash hit Paper Planes of the mid 2000s, giving it an instant cultural reference point. The drink is inspired by the classic Last Word cocktail, using the same structure but completely changing up the ingredients. 

It is made with equal parts bourbon, amaro, lemon juice, and aperol. This gives the cocktail a distinctive orange hue, which has perhaps helped to boost its popularity in the Instagram era. It’s served with a cute miniature peg holding a paper plane to the rim of the glass. The drink is simple to prepare but has a pleasing complexity of flavour. 

 

The Bramble

The Bramble is relatively old for a modern classic, having been invented by Dick Bradsell way back in the 1980s. However, it’s hugely popular and still retains its contemporary edge today. It’s made with a combination of dry gin and lemon juice, simple syrup, and crème de mûre (blackberry liqueur). This gives it an unforgettable tart and fruity flavour. 

 

The Old Cuban

The Old Cuban sounds as if it has been around for at least a century, but in fact it was invented by Audrey Saunders in a New York bar circa 2001. It’s made with aged rum, mint, sugar syrup, lime juice, Angostura and champagne, and served with a mint leaf garnish. 

 

Gin Basil Smash

Rumour has it that this delicious gin-based cocktail was first created in Germany in 2008, but it’s already a staple of cocktail bar menus around the world. It is made from a combination of gin, lemon juice, simple syrup, and muddled basil leaves. All the ingredients are shaken with ice until chilled, and then strained into a rocks glass with ice, and garnished with a basil leaf.

 

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