For as long as there have been alcoholic beverages, combining them together has been an unsurprisingly human experiment. Despite this long history, the cocktail only received its first known definition in a newspaper in 1806, printed in Hudson, NY.
As time progressed and the indulgence of mixing spirits and complimenting syrups, spices and fruits became more popular, some combinations became iconic.

From the saloons and clubs of 19th century America to the American-style bars of Paris and London in the 1920s, we have found the intriguing tales behind the drinks, and the people who created them.

Gimlets on the High Seas

It’s the late 1700s: the time of long and arduous voyages across the seas taking months on end. Scurvy is a constant passenger: a wasting disease rife amongst the sailors on these journeys, mercilessly taking their lives in considerable numbers. The surgeons and admirals of the British Navy are realising that the vitamin C in citrus fruit is their greatest weapon against this loss of life…

Finally in 1867 it was made mandatory that lime juice rations for each sailor be carried by ships of both the Merchant and Royal Navy. Naturally, the sailors mixed their rations with the rum readily available to them whilst it has been said that the officers onboard opted for gin with lime as their drink of choice. Thus, the Gimlet was born on the high seas.

Though perhaps a little rudimentary back then, being a 50/50 formula of Rose’s Lime Cordial and gin (no ice), it has enjoyed many less ‘limey’ interpretations in its lifetime.

Here is a beautifully refreshing Gimlet recipe to suit a calm summer’s day staring out to sea…

  • 30ml home-made lime syrup, or lime cordial
  • 60ml Rocky’s Paradox Gin
  • Ice
  • Slice of lime to garnish
  • Splash of soda water (optional)

1. Chill a martini or coupe glass in the fridge.

2. Pour 50ml of the lime syrup or cordial into a jug or tall glass.

3. Add a few ice cubes, and the gin.

4. Stir until the outside of the container feels very cold.

5. Strain the mixture into your chilled glass, add a splash of soda water if desired, and garnish with a slice of lime.

*Adapted from BBC Good Food 

The Quiet Beginnings of the Aviation

It’s New York in 1917, and the bars and clubs are doing a roaring trade in the pre-Prohibition era. In the bar of the Hotel Wallick, on the corner of Broadway and 43rd Street, Hugo R. Ensslin quietly goes about creating cocktails for the middle class.

With none of the vivacity of other bartenders well known for their craft, he self-publishes an unassuming book artfully called ‘Recipes for Mixed Drinks’. Not only does he write the last major cocktail book published before the Prohibition Era, an extraordinary time capsule, but his creativity is obvious, with over 400 cocktails contained within its pages.

His recipes still have their devout following amongst contemporary mixologists, and The Aviation is a prime example of his use of delicate flavours. A perfect balance of gin, maraschino liqueur, crème de violette and lemon juice with a purple hue resembling the depth of the sky at just past sunset.

  • 45ml Rocky’s Paradox Gin
  • 12.5ml maraschino liqueur
  • 5ml crème de violette
  • 15ml lemon juice
  • 5ml sugar syrup
  • 10ml chilled water
  • Ice

1. Chill a coupe glass in the fridge.

2. Pour all ingredients into a cocktail shaker until the shaker feels cold.

3. Strain the cocktail into the chilled coupe.

4. Garnish with a slice of lemon, or an edible violet.

*Based on the Difford’s Guide recipe:

The Many Faces of Bloody Mary

Trying to trace the history of the Bloody Mary is like trying to find your way through a labyrinth of tales told by exuberant characters.

The story stretches from Hollywood to Harry’s New York Bar in Paris to the St. Regis Hotel in New York City and the mystery remains alive, 100 years later, as to who created one of the world’s most beloved cocktails.

Regardless of its true place of birth, it is a drink that has been re-imagined in just about every destination it’s taken up residence – from the Bloody Maru with a sake twist, to the Cubanita with rum and Bloody Ceasar with clam juice. There is seemingly no end to the possibilities.