Classic Cocktails

By Fred Minnick 


In the right hands, bar tools, fruit, and whiskey can yield one of life’s great pleasures as you sip. But cocktails are only as good as the bartender’s skill. That’s why one Manhattan’s sublime texture and rich bourbon balance stands out over another’s cherry juice-saturated mediocrity. As drinkers, we remember our favorite bartenders and follow them from place to place. We can also dabble at home. It’s time to take your love of the cocktail into your own hands and start mixing.

What you need: First, get your knife and a cutting board for preparing fruit. Then you need a bar spoon for stirring. Under no circumstances should you shake alcohol drinks such as the martini—shaking bruises the spirit. For as good as he was with a Walther PPK, James Bond did not know his cocktails. You’ll also need mixing tins. Two metal tins are what the professionals use, and so should you. Don’t fall for the gimmicky, often fancier shakers. Two tins, that’s all you need. Last, get a jigger for measuring your pours. Of course, we all know that when nobody’s looking, you’re just pouring as much as you want.

In today’s mixology-crazed world, you’re likely to fall in love with a craft cocktail bar’s signature menu items. These four classics (plus one bonus recipe at are no longer on many menus, but experienced bartenders know how to make them. Now you will, too.

First up, the infamous Manhattan.

The Manhattan has more twists and turns than any whiskey cocktail, but there’s one classic style, and it should be made with rye. Not bourbon. You can certainly substitute; I’m just offering the classic recipe.


  • 2 ounces rye (I like Redemption Rye for this)
  • 1 ounce Italian vermouth
  • 2 dashes Angostura Bitters (no substituting, it must be Angostura)



  1. Stir rye, vermouth, and bitters in cracked ice until your tin ices over.
  2. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon twist and Maraschino cherry.
  3. To make this a “perfect Manhattan,” use 0.5 ounce Italian vermouth and 0.5 ounce French vermouth.
Michael Eman
Official Contributor
Kevin Gibson is a free-lance writer who writes for numerous publications, including Bourbon+ magazine, Thrillist, and Alcohol Professor.