Four Retro Drinks Making a Comeback in 2023
Some cocktails stand the test of time while others have a moment of popularity before being forgotten or replaced by the latest trend. Vintage cocktails and all things nostalgia are making a comeback across the drinks world, with both bartenders and customers rediscovering old favourites. Some of the coolest retro drinks are being seen across pop culture, from TV series to books and movies. Here, Kaitlyn Stewart delves into the coolest nostalgia serves from pop culture and how you can make them your own.
1. The Old Fashioned and Classic Whisky Cocktails
The Old Fashioned is the definition of a cool, vintage cocktail. Allegedly making its first appearance in 1806, it came about after a man named Harry Croswell wrote to a newspaper to describe a cocktail as a mixture of any type of spirit, water, sugar, and bitters. While this recipe didn’t specify whisky, this is what the Old-Fashioned has become synonymous with in later years.
The Old Fashioned Through the Decades
While its name remained elusive for several decades, the Old Fashioned was a popular cocktail right through the 19th century. George Kappeler outlined the traditional recipe in his Modern American Drinks in 1895 and it has been a bar menu staple ever since.
The Old Fashioned is not just an icon of the bar menu, but has featured heavily in mainstream culture, more specifically on the popular television show of Mad Men. The series’ protagonist, Don Draper is known for his crisp advertising copy, his sharp sense of style, quick wit, and his favourite cocktail – the Old Fashioned.
With its debut in 2007, Don Draper helped usher this cocktail back into popularity, and a new era of cocktail culture in general. Make sure you have an Old Fashioned recipe in your cocktail arsenal!
HOW TO MAKE AN OLD FASHIONED
Channel your inner Don Draper and make your very own Old Fashioned cocktail with our quick recipe below.
- 50ml of bourbon/rye
- 2 bar spoons of turbinado sugar
- 5 to 7 dashes of bitters
- Orange zest
- Orange peel
- Combine the sugar, bitters, and slowly integrate the bourbon and rye by stirring the spirit in a cocktail glass.
- Add ice and add the rest of the bourbon slowly.
- Pour the liquid into your glass that has ice in it.
- Garnish with a cherry and orange peel.
Alcohol content: 15.8 grams
Discover more recipes here!
2. THE WHITE RUSSIAN
Made famous by the cult film The Big Lebowski, the White Russian is a popular cocktail to this day that saw its creation in the 1960s. Originally a variation of another vodka cocktail called the Black Russian, it is considered a tasty and easy drink to make – which accounts for its popularity through the decades.
The Evolution of the White Russian
The first time the world heard the name ‘White Russian’ was in the Oakland Tribune in 1965. Created in the image of the Black Russian, a cocktail created in Brussels in 1949.
An obscure cocktail by the late 80s, it arguably had the starring role in the 1998 Coen Brothers classic, The Big Lebowski. One of the major subplots of the film involved the main character ‘The Dude’ setting off to the supermarket in search of cream — one of the White Russian’s three classic ingredients.
Now an international sensation, different variants include the White Canadian, which is made with goat’s milk, and the White Mexican, which uses horchata instead of cream.
How to Make a White Russian
How to Make a White Russian
There’s an easy way to transport yourself back to the swinging 60’s or look just as cool as The Dude in The Big Lebowski – make your own White Russian. Here’s how youdo it:
- 25ml of vodka
- 25ml of coffee liqueur
- 25ml of heavy cream
- Add ice to a lowball glass
- Add the vodka and the coffee liqueur
- Stir it together
- Layer the heavy cream on top
Some people prefer to use milk as it’s lighter, but cream gives it the full ‘Dude’ experience.
Alcohol content: 13.13 grams
THE LITTLE LEBOWSKI - A TWIST ON A CLASSIC
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3. The Gin Rickey
While most retro drinks are shrouded in mystery or have a jaded past, the history of the Gin Rickey is surprisingly clear. Named after the democratic lobbyist, Joe Rickey, who lived in Washington D.C., it became a staple during the late 19th Century, gaining further popularity in the 20th Century through the writer F. Scott Fitzgerald.
The History of the Gin Rickey
Due to Rickey favouring zero-sugar drinks, he liked to combine bourbon and carbonated water. He asked a bartender at Shoomaker’s bar to add some lime in his preferred high-ball and the Bourbon Rickey was created.
A simple twist on this soon became the more popular beverage: the Gin Rickey. The simple twist which exchanged the bourbon for gin saw the botanicals amplified through fresh lime and sparkling water.
This drink was a firm favourite of F. Scott Fitzgerald and is mentioned by name in his most renowned novel, The Great Gatsby. Making an appearance in chapter seven of the text, Tom Buchanan mixes four of them for his guests – Gatsby being one of them.
How to Make a Gin Rickey
You can feel like Gatsby on a summer’s day by mixing your very own Gin Rickey using this simple recipe.
- 50ml of gin
- Half a lime
- 50ml of club soda
- Add the gin to a Collins glass full of ice.
- Next, add the juice from the lime half and then drop the shell into the glass.
- Top with club soda and give a gentle mix.
Alcohol Content: 14.81 grams
4.The Hemingway Daiquiri
Take a trip to Hemingway's haunt: the Floridita! The story goes that Hemingway was a regular of El Floridita and became enchanted with the Daiquiri. The Hemingway Daquiri was originally known as the Papa Doble (“Papa” being Hemingway’s Cuban nickname) as was created by his favourite bartender, Constantino Ribalagiua in 1921.
The Hemingway Daiquiri in Popular Culture
This cocktail came to be known as the Hemingway Daiquiri when the bartender decided to lighten up on the rum and added cherry liqueur, in order to appeal to his regular customers’ tastes. It appealed so much that people still love it today, and it’s now officially recognised by the International Bartenders Association.
When you make a Hemingway Daiquiri, you might find it needs even more sweetness than El Floridita made it. It’s common for mixologists to add in a touch of simple syrup to the recipe to make it just a little more mellow.
How to Make a Hemingway Daiquiri
Hemingway knew how to enjoy life so much that they named drinks after him. Here is the perfect recipe for a different daiquiri.
- 50 ml rum
- 25 ml red grapefruit juice
- 1 Splash sour cherry liqueur
- 10 ml lime
- 10 ml simple syrup
- Combine all the ingredients in an ice filled shaker glass
- Shake well
- Strain into a well-chilled martini glass
- Garnish with amarena cherries.
Alcohol content: 9.48 grams
Discover more recipes here!
Five Key Takeaways:
- If you only learn to make one cocktail, make it the iconic Old Fashioned. Don Draper would be proud.
- Bring your White Russian out of the 90’s by experimenting with milk alternatives like Horchata.
- Relive the Roaring Twenties like Gatsby with a Gin Rickey, a perfect zero-sugar cocktail.
- Indulge your inner intellect with a Hemingway Daiquiri, and impress everyone with your ‘Papa Doble’ knowledge.
- Consumers are loving the nostalgia trend right now, these pop culture classics are sure to be a hit.
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Stretching out the Classics
‘Stretching out’ drinks takes existing recipes, usually traditional or ‘classic’ (typically, quite spirit-forward by nature), and applies their flavours or ingredients to a new format, like a highball. Learn how to do it today.