Cocktail being poured

Blogs & Inspiration

Classic Cocktail Recipes That Inspire New Creations

Learn how to tap into the serves and mixology knowledge of the past to craft exceptional new drinks, with advice from the experts.

Authors: Simon Aukett, WSET & Rough and Tumble; Phil Ward, Owner of Altar, New York

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

Find The Hidden Gems

Modern-day customers are clamouring for more traditional, classic cocktail tastes and flavours. Dusting off older cocktail recipes and adding them to your menu can help your venue deliver outstanding service.

By peeking deeper into the past, you can unearth certain 'hidden gems' to help you stand out as a bartender and offer unique options.

With the help of Simon Aukett, you can resurrect some of these neglected cocktails and reintroduce them to a modern audience. Plus, studying older cocktails can give you an excellent understanding of balance and structure, two skills Phil Ward thinks can make you a better mixologist.

Three Drinks From The Past

Simon Aukett, an expert in spirits and wine, has put forward three exciting and underutilised drinks you can gain inspiration from and serve at your own venue.

Claridge Cocktail

First mentioned in the famous Savoy Cocktail Book, this drink is a wet Martini with added Triple Sec and apricot for a fruity punch. It's pretty sweet, making it a good option for those not yet used to stiffer Martinis.

Simon's Claridge Cocktail recipe calls for London Dry Gin and a lemon twist garnish to keep it fresh.

Missionary’s Downfall

This forgotten drink has a mojito-like profile and uses peach liqueur and pineapple to create tropical, beachy notes. This drink is traditionally blended with ice for a smooth consistency, but you can shake it furiously in a shaker instead.

The Missionary's Downfall recipe is complex on the palate, with a light herbaceous tone from the inclusion of mint.

Grand Stand

Found in a cocktail book from 1934, this drink combines cognac with gin, lime, and maraschino. Although unconventional, these flavours work together to create an elegant, sophisticated cocktail.

Simon adds a bit more simple syrup into his recipe to make it sweeter to bring it up to date.

Make Your Own

As a bartender, you can decide how wedded to tradition you want to be when creating your own serves. Use past drinks as a blueprint for innovation; some of the most celebrated modern creations have used this ethos.

One such drink is the Oaxaca Old Fashioned, created by Phil Ward, who took the principles laid down by the original and expanded on it.

The Oaxaca Old Fashioned recipe uses the same methodology of a classic Old Fashioned. Instead of whiskey, the Oaxaca Old Fashioned uses tequila and mezcal, adding extra depth and complexity. When making this creation, Phil was careful to 'split hairs'. This is where you ensure all your measures add up to the original amount, in this case, 55ml. This ensures that the drink maintains the structure and balance that made the original so famous.

"If I had one thing to say to young bartenders, it would be don't get ahead of yourself. Learn balance. Learn Structure. Keep things simple."

Phil Ward

Key Takeaways

  • Adding Classic Cocktails can help your venue stand out.
  • Simon Aukell recommends serving classics like The Claridge Cocktail, Grand Stand, and Missionary’s Downfall.
  • Studying classic cocktails can help you learn structure and balance.
  • Innovate off classic cocktails to create new, exciting serves.

Sign up for free and become a member of Diageo Bar Academy today to unlock the latest industry news, trends, and tips to keep your bar knowledge up to speed!