One of the greatest dividends of the revival in cocktail culture that began in the 1990s has been the relentless innovation. More new cocktails—and good ones—have been invented in the past thirty years than during any period since the first golden age of cocktails, which lasted from roughly the 1870s until the arrival of Prohibition in 1920 and included the birth of the Martini, Manhattan, Daiquiri, and Tom Collins.
Just as that first bar-world zenith produced a half-century of classic recipes before Prohibition, the eruption of talent over the past three decades has handily delivered its share of drinks that have found favor with arbiters on both sides of the bar. Among them are the Espresso Martini, White Negroni, Death Flip, Old Cuban, Paper Plane, Siesta, and many more, all included here along with each drink's recipe origin story.
What elevates a modern cocktail into the echelon of a modern classic? A host of reasons, all delineated by Simonson in these pages. But, above all, a modern classic cocktail must be popular. People have to order it, not just during its initial heyday, but for years afterward. Tommy’s Margarita, invented in the 1990s, is still beloved, and the Porn Star Martini is the most popular cocktail in the United Kingdom, twenty years after its creation.
This book includes more than sixty easy-to-make drinks that all earned their stripes as modern classics years ago. Sprinkled among them are also a handful of critics' choices, potential classics that have the goods to become popular go-to cocktails in the future.
Robert Simonson writes about cocktails, spirits, bars, and bartenders for the New York Times. He is the author of A Proper Drink, The Old-Fashioned, 3-Ingredient Cocktails, The Martini Cocktail, and Mezcal & Tequila Cocktails. His writing has appeared in Saveur, Food & Wine, GQ, Bon Appetit, Vinepair, Grub Street, Imbibe, and PUNCH. His work has been nominated for two James Beard Awards, four IACP Awards, and thirteen Spirited Awards, winning one IACP Award and two Spirited Awards. A native of Wisconsin, he has lived in New York City since 1988.