Around the late 90s, Manhattan was gaining prominence as a “drinks wasteland.” With little variety, the art of making and inventing cocktails had taken a backseat. A Cosmopolitan was as sophisticated as it could get before the Appletini came along. In a time when men dominated the scene behind the bar, a woman made her way to the forefront and revolutionised the art of making craft cocktails. Her name was Audrey Saunders.
In a world satisfied with flavoured vodka, she gave gin prominence. Bitters found their way back and fresh juices replaced the widely prevalent pre-made mixers. She was the one roasting fresh tomatoes for a Bloody Mary and grilling pineapples. After working at various bars, Saunders’ opened Pegu Club in 2005. Located on West Houston Street, it became her laboratory and Little Italy was one of her creations.
Little Italy was one of the cocktails she crafted to re-introduce rye whisky which was gradually disappearing. It is a concoction of rye whisky and two classic Italian aperitifs, vermouth and Cynar. This cocktail is strong with a bitter edge. It has a herby taste and the bitterness is refreshingly surprising. Little Italy is the perfect balance of sweet and bitter with the right amount of whisky, leading to a dense flavour.
For the classic drink, combine 30 ml rye whisky with 15 ml Cynar and 22.5 ml sweet vermouth. After a good stir along with some ice, strain it into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with two maraschino cherries with a little extra syrup. For an interesting add-on, you can try a flamed wide strip of orange zest. It finishes the drink off pleasantly.
The Twelve Mile Limit cocktail is one of the iconic and favoured cocktails that sprang from the Prohibition-era of the USA. Interestingly, this potent cocktail took its name after the very U.S. Law that banned the consumption of alcohol for up to a dozen miles off its shores.
The Amber Moon cocktail has been around for a long time. Back in the 1800s, cracking raw eggs into alcohol was considered a ‘miner’s breakfast’. The burning sensation left after having whisky was soothed by drinking beer with raw eggs. In Amber Moon, eggs and whisky are combined and the whisky cocktail becomes a healthy drink that can cure a hangover.
The highball is probably one of the most common whisky drinks consumed around the world with the most famous variant being ye olde Scotch and Soda. However, the whisky highball can come in many shades but the most distinguishable feature of this mix is the tall glass of ice! The origin story of this familiar drink, however, has been lost in the meanders of time.