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April 22, 2006 | Episode 16

Bartender Jason Kosmas shows host Brooke Alexander how to mix up a solution for a home bar.
Bartender Jason Kosmas shows host Brooke Alexander how to mix up a solution for a home bar.
Real Simple Television Productions Inc.

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Classic Cocktails

Mix these easy, old-fashioned drinks



Dale DeGroff, a former bartender for New York City’s Rainbow Room and the author of The Craft of the Cocktail, recommends these drinks and offers some insight for each.

Margarita

“The style of tequila you choose is kind of critical,” says DeGroff. “And when I say 'really good tequila,' I mean 100 percent blue agave tequila — tequila made from only the agave plant. That kind is called tequila puro in Mexico, and in America it’s called 100 percent blue agave.”

Hands-On Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Makes 1 cocktail
 
2 ounces tequila
1 ounce orange liqueur
3/4 ounce fresh lime juice
1/2 ounce simple syrup (optional; recipe below)


In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, combine the tequila, orange liquor, lime juice, and simple syrup (if using). Shake well. Strain into a margarita or rocks glass.

Tip: If you prefer your margarita in a salt-rimmed glass, rub the lime along the rim of the glass. Place some coarse salt on a small plate; do not substitute table salt. Dip the rim of the glass into the salt.


Cosmopolitan

“It’s simple,” says DeGroff. “It’s four ingredients, and ‘fresh’ is the key. The common mistake people make is they don’t shake it hard, and they don’t put fresh lime juice in — they use some sort of artificial lime out of those little squirt things.”

Hands-On Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 5 minutes
Makes 1 cocktail
 
1 1/2 ounces vodka, preferably citrus vodka
3/4 ounce orange liqueur
1/4 ounce fresh lime juice
1 ounce cranberry juice cocktail
Twist of orange peel (optional)

In a cocktail shaker filled with ice, combine the vodka, orange liquor, lime juice, and cranberry cocktail. Shake well and strain into a martini glass. Garnish with a twist (if using).

Mojito

“It’s a limeade for adults,” says DeGroff. “What you need is fresh lime juice. but you don’t need to muddle the limes. Not that you can’t if you want to, but that’s not the tradition in Cuba, where the drink [was popularized].”

Hands-On Time: 5 minutes
Total Time: 10 minutes
Makes 1 cocktail
 
1 sprig plus 4 leaves fresh mint
3/4 ounce fresh lime juice
1 ounce simple syrup (recipe below)
1 1/2 ounces white rum
1 to 2 ounces club soda

Place the 4 mint leaves, lime juice, and simple syrup in a highball glass. Use the back of a spoon to muddle (smash) the ingredients. Add the rum and some ice. Pour in soda to taste and garnish with the mint sprig.

Simple Syrup

To make simple syrup, simmer 1/2 cup water and 1/2 cup granulated sugar in a saucepan, without stirring, until the sugar dissolves and the mixture thickens slightly, about 5 minutes. Cover and refrigerate for up to several weeks.

All of the above drinks recipes are from The Craft of the Cocktail, by Dale DeGroff.  

 

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