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Diageo Reserve World Class Special - Classics With A Twist

In this seventh instalment, we explore the idea of “twisted classics”, and provide tips and ideas on updating classic cocktails.

The easiest way to create interesting new drinks for today's consumers is by twisting classic recipes, and although this is a relatively simple process, it's important to understand the ingredients you're working with.

If, for instance, you take the recipe for the Oriental Cocktail - rye whiskey, sweet vermouth, curaçao, and fresh lime juice – you have a few options to consider.

Which ingredients are you going to switch out?

If you choose to replace the whiskey, choose another straight spirit such as brandy, or a rich, aged rum. Don't replace the whiskey with a liqueur - you'll throw the drink out of balance.

There are many options these days in the sweet vermouth category, so calling specifically for, say, Punt e Mes or Carpano Antica Formula, instead of generic sweet vermouth, is another way of reinventing a classic cocktail.

If you decide, instead, to replace the curaçao in the drink, look for a similar liqueur such as cassis, for instance. Don't replace a sweet ingredient with something like a dry vermouth or straight tequila - it just won't work.

And if you want to further differentiate your twist on this classic, think about adding some aromatic bitters, a couple of dashes of absinthe, or perhaps a drop of Chartreuse or Bénédictine will make your drink stand out.

Another way of bringing classic drinks up to date is by simply adding some fresh new ingredients. Try muddling a little lemongrass with sugar syrup, for instance, then using the syrup to make a Daiquiri.

You could do similar things with fresh ginger, pink peppercorns, star anise, basil, honey, cinnamon, coriander, cloves, cumin and even kaffir lime leaves. Let your imagination run wild.

Use these flavours to put your own touch on Margaritas, Daiquiris, Champagne Cocktails, Martinis, Manhattans, and any other classic cocktail you can think of.

Here are a few examples of twisted classics:


20ml Ron Zacapa 23
20ml Campari
20ml Dubbonet

Glass: Rocks
Garnish: Slender orange slice
Method: Stir all ingredients with ice and strain into an ice-filled glass.

Alcohol per serving: 12.4g

Concept: This was a variation of the timeless classic, the Negroni, dedicated to a famous Italian aristocrat. It's the personification of an era of simple elegance and this cocktail twist works beautifully with Zacapa. It was created by Mark Huang from Taiwan who won the Gentleman's Drinks Challenge at the Diageo Reserve World Class Global Final in 2011.

The Dean

50ml Tanqueray No. TEN
10ml Italian vermouth
3 twists of Sicilian orange
2 drops grapefruit bitters

Glass: Martini
Garnish: Sicilian orange twist
Method: Stir all ingredients with ice and strain into a chilled glass.

Alcohol per serving: 20g

Concept: This drink is a nod to Dean Martin’s Sicilian heritage and is a 21st century twist on his favourite dry martini (made with Tanqueray London Dry Gin).

Blue Zinger

35ml Johnnie Walker Blue Label
5ml Mozart chocolate liqueur
7.5ml Dubonnet
1 pinch fresh vanilla grains
2 dashes orange bitters

Glass: Rocks
Garnish: Orange zest, vanilla pod and finely grated tonka bean
Method: Gently stir all ingredients in a rocks glass over large ice cubes, until mixed and chilled. The whisky should be added in last in small increments.

Alcohol per serving: 14.4g

Concept: A subtle variation of the Old-Fashioned with a nod to the Sweet Manhattan, two of the most legendary cocktails and stalwart drinks of the Mad Men era. This cocktail balances the Scotch with the light aromatic wine notes of Dubonnet, a hint of bitter-sweet chocolate liqueur and is finished with vanilla grains and fine-grated tonka bean.

Other Diageo Reserve World Class stories:

Stay up to date on the latest Diageo Reserve World Class Global Final news on Facebook by following us at www.facebook.com/globalworldclassfinals.

Since its debut in 2009, the Diageo Reserve World Class Global Final has grown into one of the most influential bartending events of the year, where some of the best emerging and charismatic personalities gather to celebrate a shared obsession, the art of being a bartender. At the end of a week of gruelling competition, fresh talent is uncovered, novel techniques start to generate buzz and new trends begin to shape the industry for the year ahead.

In the lead up to this year’s Global Finals that will take place from 4 – 9 July; this is a series of short World Class specials covering the trend of the moment, Retro Chic and some exclusive Global Final moments.