Eight Classic Cocktails for a Classy Super Bowl Sunday
Super Bowl Sunday is traditionally time to break out beer, chips, dips and maybe a box of wine for the crowd. But if you really want to elevate the game while watching the Los Angeles Rams take on the New England Patriots in Super Bowl LIII, nothing classes up an event like classic cocktails.
So dust off the bar cart, don a black vest, slap on some arm garters and give your guests something to celebrate with these eight classic drinks for game day.
Jump straight to a cocktail recipe
“A dry martini. One. In a deep champagne goblet. Three measures of Gordon’s, one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet. Shake it very well until it’s ice-cold, then add a large thin slice of lemon peel.” —James Bond, Casino Royale
While Bond’s signature drink, by his instructions, could technically qualify as a double, we’ve toned this classic down to more reasonable standards. Also, while Kina Lillet was discontinued in 1986, Lillet Blanc is an appropriate substitute, though many prefer Cocchi Americano as it still contains quinine, the key ingredient that has since been removed from the Ian Fleming-era Lillet. Likewise, Gordon’s Gin has been reformulated to a lower proof in some markets, causing many cocktail traditionalists to insist on using an alternative 94-proof London dry gin, such as Broker’s or Tanqueray.
- 2 ounces gin (94 proof)
- ⅔ ounce vodka
- ⅓ Lillet Blanc or Cocchi Americano
Combine all ingredients into a shaker. Fill with ice and shake vigorously for 15 seconds. Strain into a chilled coupe glass. Garnish with a large, thin lemon lemon peel.
The New York Flip is just one member of an entire class of classic cocktails called flips. Though there are historical claims of flips being created as far back as the 1600s, modern understanding of the drink stems—as do a vast number of cocktails we enjoy today—from Jerry Thomas’ seminal 1862 bar bible, How to Mix Drinks: or, The Bon-Vivant’s Companion.
By itself, a flip just means a cocktail made with egg and sugar, but traditionally without cream (differentiating it from an eggnog). What sets a flip apart from other egg cocktails is that the whole egg is used, yolk included. Many classic recipes even call for twice as much egg yolk as egg white. The word “flip” itself comes from the old practice of pouring the egged mix back and forth rapidly between jugs to froth the cocktail and smoothen out the drink.
The tawny Port acts as the primary sweetening agent in the New York Flip, bolstered with just a small amount of simple syrup. And because New Yorkers have to be brash, their signature version of the flip has also come to include the addition of cream and egg yolk without the white. Swap the heavy cream with buttermilk for a nice variation that has less fat but a touch more acid, to counter the richness of the drink.
Though it falls more in line with the nog family, however you choose to prepare it, keep this classic recipe in your pocket for a perfect after-dinner drink.
- 1 ½ ounces Bourbon
- ¾ ounce tawny Port
- ¼ ounce simple syrup
- ¾ ounce heavy cream or buttermilk
- 1 egg yolk
- Nutmeg, for garnish
Combine all ingredients except for garnish in a cocktail shaker. Dry shake (vigorously and without ice) for at least 20 seconds, or until egg is fully beaten and incorporated into the drink. Add ice and shake again for an additional 10–15 seconds to chill. Strain into a sherry glass, coupe or martini glass and grate fresh nutmeg over the top. Serve up.
The Last Word is a pre-Prohibition cocktail that represents one of the earlier innovations in the sour family of cocktails: concoctions that include lemon and/or lime juice. First seen on a menu at the Detroit Athletic Club bar in 1916, the drink is said to have been named for, or possibly created by, popular vaudeville performer Frank Fogarty. He was so renowned for his sharp wit he was said to have always gotten in “the last word.”
The cocktail, like many of the era, fell out of favor as the 20th century marched on. For decades, the only record of the original recipe was in Ted Saucier’s 1951 cocktail manual, Bottoms Up. However, in 2004, Seattle bartender Murray Stenson, then of the Zig Zag Cafe, stumbled across Saucier’s recipe and tested the classic cocktail on his customers to great success.
From there, the drink’s resurgence spread to Portland, Oregon, before jumping coasts and becoming popular in New York City’s cocktail bars. A short time later, this revived classic spread to menus across the country.
The key to the drink is Green Chartreuse, a French herbal liqueur with a history even more colorful than the cocktail. The original recipe was created in 1605, intended as a medicinal elixir. Today, the spirit is made from 130 plants, the identity of which are only known by two of the Carthusian monks of La Grande Chartreuse, which makes it one of the most closely guarded secrets in the spirits world.
In 1903, the French government exiled the monks to Spain and nationalized the Chartreuse distillery in an attempt to produce the spirit themselves. Unable to accurately recreate the recipe, the nationalized Chartreuse folded in 1929. The distillery was bought and gifted back to the monks, who returned to France and retook rightful stewardship of the spirit.
The Last Word is a fairly simple cocktail to make. It uses only four ingredients that are measured in equal parts. It’s also a fantastic option when entertaining, as its three spirit-based ingredients can be mixed together ahead of time. Just add fresh lime juice before serving.
- ¾ ounce gin
- ¾ ounce maraschino liqueur, like Luxardo
- ¾ ounce Green Chartreuse
- ¾ ounce lime juice
- Lime twist (for garnish)
Combine all ingredients in cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously 10–15 seconds until well chilled. Double-strain through fine mesh strainer into chilled coupe glass or Nick & Nora glass. Garnish with lime twist.
Winter can be an endless, freezing drag. Luckily, nothing helps melt through seasonal malaise like a cocktail classic: hot buttered rum.
This hearty, warming drink is pure cocktail comfort food. Have a favorite wintry ingredient? Try adding it to the mix. The vanilla extract in this recipe brings a delicious depth to the drink, but substituting sarsaparilla or ginger will yield a completely different (and delightful) flavor profile.
Hot buttered rum is also a great excuse to use some of those liqueurs gathering dust on your bar cart—if you’ve still got that bottle of Drambuie or Galliano that’s been taking up space in your liquor cabinet since 1983, this is your opportunity to throw in a splash and put them to work. Endlessly customizable, we encourage you to use this base recipe as a springboard to cocktail creativity.
Thirsty yet? Lets get mixing.
- 1 stick (4 ounces) unsalted butter
- ½ cup light brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- 1 teaspoon ground cloves
- 1 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- 1 teaspoon ground allspice
- Pinch of salt
- 2 ounces dark or aged rum
- 6 ounces hot water
- Cinnamon stick, for garnish (optional)
In mixing bowl, combine butter, vanilla extract, sugar, spices and salt. Beat until well combined.
In heat-proof glass or mug, combine aged rum with 1 ounce (2 tablespoons) spiced butter mixture. Remaining batter can be stored in airtight container in refrigerator for future use.
Top with hot water and stir until ingredients are well incorporated. Garnish with cinnamon stick if preferred.
“Don’t bother with churches, government buildings or city squares. If you want to know about a culture, spend a night in its bars.” –Ernest Hemingway
The Hemingway daiquiri has arguably become the most popular variation of this classic rum cocktail, perhaps unseating the undisputed heavyweight champion of the 1990s, the frozen strawberry daiquiri.
A prolific drinker, Hemingway likely had a number of cocktails named after him. Most had little in common with the legendary writer, but to connect a concoction with the original Most Interesting Man In The World was a good way to sell cocktails.
We don’t know if Hemingway ever drank his namesake cocktail at El Floridita. One of Hemingway’s go-to watering holes in Havana created the cocktail to appeal to casual drinkers and leverage the name of one of its most famous patrons.
That’s because no one in his or her right mind would want to consume Hemingway’s preferred drink, the Papa Doble.
As the story goes, Hemingway, looking for a bathroom, popped into El Floridita. There, he saw the bartender mix a batch of frozen daiquiris. Never one to leave an unattended beverage to its own devices, Hemingway picked up the drink and tried it.
After a few tastes, he was said to have told the bartender, “That’s good, but I’d prefer it without the sugar…and double the rum.”
“Always do sober what you said you’d do drunk. That will teach you to keep your mouth shut.” –Ernest Hemingway
Hence, the drink’s name: “Papa” was Hemingway’s nickname in Havana, while “doble” indicates his preferred octane.
While a legend in drinking culture, Hemingway seemed to have terrible taste in cocktails. His favorite drinks seemed to follow a blueprint to consume the largest amount of alcohol in the least time.
That’s evident in the Papa Doble. It’s four ounces of rum with only a splash of lime, blended so cold that it couldn’t be tasted going down.
So, to create a “Hemingway daiquiri” for the public, El Floridita had to get a bit creative.
Staying true to the writer’s disdain for sugary drinks, the updated Hemingway daiquiri uses Maraschino liqueur rather than the traditional cane syrup. It’s a classic Italian liqueur distilled from Marasca cherries, which imparts a very subtle sweetness. A touch of ruby red grapefruit juice is also used to balance the drink. It adds a slight a touch of sweetness to counter the lime, but with a refreshing tartness.
- 2 ounces white rum
- ¾ ounce lime juice
- ½ ounce Maraschino liqueur
- ½ ounce ruby red grapefruit juice (freshly squeezed, if possible)
- Lime wedge (for garnish)
Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake until well chilled. Double-strain into a coup glass. Garnish with lime wedge.
Not to be solely remembered as a drinker for telling bartenders to “double the booze,” Hemingway has at least one published cocktail of his own. He gave it the same title as his nonfiction tome on bullfighting, Death in the Afternoon. It was published in the 1935 cocktail book So Red the Nose, or Breath in the Afternoon, a collection of cocktail recipes from famous authors.
The recipe, in Hemingway’s own words:
“Pour one jigger absinthe into a Champagne glass. Add iced Champagne until it attains the proper opalescent milkiness. Drink three to five of these slowly.”
Often mistaken for a single drink, the Corpse Reviver actually describes a family of cocktails. These beverages earned their namesake by being pitched to imbibers as hangover cures as far back as the 19th century.
Mentions of the drink date back to 1861 (in an issue of London’s satirical Punch magazine) as well as an early recipe that appeared in the 1871 book The Gentleman’s Table Guide by E. Ricket and C. Thomas. However, the two most famous variations, Corpse Reviver #1 and Corpse Reviver #2, were first standardized in Harry Craddock’s 1930 bartending bible, The Savoy Cocktail Book.
The one every home bartender needs to know? The Corpse Reviver #2. It’s the pinnacle of classic-cocktail elegance: perfectly balanced, easy to remember and mixed in equal parts.
Craddock’s original recipe called for equal parts gin, lemon, Cointreau, Kina Lillet and a whisper of absinthe. Unfortunately, Lillet— a fortified aperitif wine—stopped using cinchona bark in their formula in 1986 and dropped “Kina” from their name, losing the product’s signature bitter quinine bite as a result.
Thankfully, the quality of Corpse Reviver #2s that can be found has improved in recent years as Cocchi Americano, an quinine-fortified aperitif wine, has become widely available outside of Italy and works as a great replacement for the classic Kina flavor.
- ¾ ounce gin
- ¾ ounce lemon juice
- ¾ ounce Cointreau
- ¾ Cocchi Americano
- 1 dash absinthe
- Orange peel, for garnish
Combine all ingredients in shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously until well chilled. Double strain (strain from shaker through additional fine mesh strainer) into chilled coupe or Nick & Nora glass. Garnish with orange peel.
Note: If a less anise-forward flavor is desired, absinthe can be used to rinse the glass (swirled until the interior is coated and then discarded), rather than shaken with the other ingredients. And if you’d like a lighter cocktail, Lillet Blanc can be substituted for Cocchi Americano.
When it comes to classic gin cocktails, few are as revered by bartenders as the Aviation. On the other hand, even fewer are reviled like a poorly made Aviation.
The drink is built on a delicate balance of strongly flavored ingredients, which can easily cause ruin when out of proportion. But done right, you’re guaranteed to convert anybody who claims they “don’t like gin.”
The first printed mention of the Aviation on record is in Hugo R. Ensslin’s 1917 classic compendium, Recipes for Mixed Drinks. A variation on the gin sour, the Aviation replaces simple syrup with maraschino liqueur, balances it with lemon and introduces a wildcard, Crème Yvette.
Crème Yvette is a violet herbal liqueur—a proprietary blend modeled after the more generic crème de violette that was integral to the original Aviation. It provides the Aviation’s distinctive, sky-like blue/grey hue (the source of the drink’s name) and signature floral punch.
Bartenders are often split on preference of Crème Yvette, with its addition of berry, vanilla and spices, or the less-complex but more violet-forward crème de violette. Crème Yvette did become a hot commodity after production stopped in 1969 and options for a proper Aviation became limited, causing the drink to lose the public’s interest and fall out of sight.
In 2009, after 40 years, the long-sought ingredient was revived and the once-forgotten Aviation began to find a new audience.
With Yvette’s pungent blend of aromatic ingredients, a little goes a long way. One extra dash has been known to ruin the drink (a slightly heavier hand can be used with the less-sweet violette). If you follow this recipe, though, you’ll have made one of the cocktail world’s most perfect gin creations.
- 2 ounces gin
- ¾ ounce fresh lemon juice
- ½ ounce maraschino liqueur
- 1 bar spoon Crème Yvette (or crème de violette)
- Maraschino cherry, for garnish
Add all ingredients except garnish to cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake vigorously until well chilled. Double-strain into a chilled coupe. Garnish with maraschino cherry.
Let’s get this out of the way: There’s no Mint Julep recipe on earth that isn’t going to upset someone. Unlike, say, a classic Vesper martini or a New York Flip, there’s no ironclad “authentic” Mint Julep technique, despite how many people assert their version is the real deal.
Some insist that a small forest of heavily muddled mint float in the drink, while others claim that the mug should just be rubbed with mint leaves, which should then be discarded. There’s also a camp that demands powdered or granulated sugar be used, while some believe simple syrup works just as well.
About the only thing that everyone can agree on is to never, ever make a julep like this.
After trying countless variations and techniques over the years, my perfect Mint Julep involves six rules:
- Bourbon, sugar, mint and ice should be the only ingredients.
- The mint should never float or be muddled (if any gets stuck in your straw or your teeth, you’re doing it wrong).
- The ice must be crushed almost to the consistency of a snow cone.
- Don’t skimp on the garnish. As wine drinkers know, a large part what we taste comes from our sense of smell. A powerful whiff of mint every time you take a sip is as important as what you put in the drink itself.
- Invest in a proper set of metal julep cups. The layer of frost that forms from the ice is part of what makes drinking Bourbon on a hot day so enjoyable.
- A metal straw, while not actually necessary, will make you feel much fancier.
- 8–10 mint leaves
- ½ ounce simple syrup
- 2 ounces Bourbon
- 4–5 mint sprigs (for garnish)
Place loose mint leaves on the bottom of a metal julep cup. Add simple syrup. With a muddler or the flat back of a bar spoon, lightly press on the mint leaves to release their oils without tearing or shredding them. Add Bourbon.
Add crushed ice to the julep cup, packing it down until a small mound forms above the rim. If crushed ice isn’t available, pulse ice cubes in a blender or food processor until reaching the desired consistency. Garnish with mint sprigs.
- 1Vesper Martini
- 2The New York Flip
- 3The Last Word, Your First Cocktail Choice
- 4The Original Hot Buttered Rum Recipe
- 5The Story (and Recipe) Behind the Hemingway Daiquiri
- 6Corpse Reviver #2 Classic Cocktail Recipe
- 7The Original Aviation Cocktail
- 8How to Make a Proper Mint Julep