10 Cocktails Every Gentleman Should Master

Knowing how to make the perfect cocktail is a skill that every man should master. As a tribute to The Voyeur we are sharing some post-prohibition cocktails that every gentleman and adventurer alike should learn. Having a favorite that matches your personality and a specific occasion will go a long way. This is not your standard list, we've rounded it out with some unique recipes that are sure to impress. 

Before we begin, you will need the proper tools to craft these beverages: 

  • Shaker
  • Strainer
  • Jigger
  • Bar Spoon
  • Pint Glass

A full set can be purchased here if you are short any of these utensils.

1. Manhattan

As the story goes, the Manhattan was first invented by Dr. Iain Marshall in the Manhattan club in the 1870's. The drink was created specifically for a banquet honoring presidential candidate Samuel J. Tilden and hosted by Jennie Jerome (better known as Lady Randolph Churchill). Due to the success of the banquet, the drink became popular and dubbed the "Manhattan" after the club where it originated. This, by many accounts, is complete fiction as Lady Randolph was pregnant and in France at the time. But since it is still contested, we'll go with it:

  • 2 oz Rye Whiskey
  • 1 oz Sweet Vermouth
  • Angostura bitters
  • Cherry Garnish
  • Ice

Fill a standard pint glass with ice. Add whiskey, sweet vermouth and 2 – 4 dashes of Angostura bitters. Stir, don’t shake. Shaking will work to chill the liquid but you'll end up with a layer of foam on top (and no one wants foam in their drink). Using a strainer pour the drink into a chilled martini glass. Garnish with a cherry.

2. Sidecar

The Ritz Hotel in Paris claims to be the birthplace of this drink, though its exact origins are still unclear. It is thought to have been invented towards the end of World War I and takes its name from the motorcycle passenger attachment. Regardless of its true history, this is a sweet drink that is sure to charm:

  • 1.5 oz Cognac
  • .75 oz Cointreau
  • .75 oz Lemon Juice
  • Lemon peel
  • Sugar
  • Ice

Coat the rim of a chilled cocktail glass with a lemon peel and dip in sugar. Combine Cointreau, Lemon Juice, Cognac and ice into a standard pint glass. Shake well and strain into the chilled, sugar coated cocktail glass. 

3. Madison Pears Martini

A martini born from the fabric of our brand. This concoction embraces the zestful flavor of a pear combined with the smooth elderflower-based French Liquor. It is sure to put a smile on every face. Master this recipe and you will have mastered yet another conversation starter.

Madison Pears Martini.jpg
  • 3 oz of Pear flavored Vodka
  • 1.5 oz St. Germain
  • ½ of a Fresh Lime squeezed with a real Lime squeezer
  • Pear Garnish
  • Ice

Place ingredients (sans pear) into a shaker filled with ice. Use a real lime squeezer to juice half of the lime. Shake until liquid is cold (we’re talking really cold) - this may take a few minutes. Pour into a true martini glass and garnish with a slice of pear.


4. Corpse Reviver #2

This gin-based cocktail uses a wash technique to lightly coat the glassware with Absinthe. This helps give each sip a hint of flavor to infuse the other ingredients. 

The origins of the Corpse-Reviver family of drinks is unclear but it has been written about in cocktail books as early as 1871. The Corpse Reviver #2, was included in Harry Craddock’s famous Savoy Cocktail Book published in 1930. Harry wrote that the drink should "be taken before 11 a.m., or whenever steam and energy are needed.” A colorful substitute to the Bloody Mary:

  • 1 oz Old Tom Gin
  • .75 oz Cointreau
  • .75 oz Lillet Blanc
  • .75 oz Fresh Lemon Juice
  • An Absinthe Rinse
  • Cherry Garnish
  • Ice

Place all ingredients (sans cherry) into a shaker. Shake with ice. Rinse you cocktail glass with a few drops of absinthe. Swirl and discard the excess. Strain the contents of your shaker into the absinthe-rinsed cocktail glass. Garnish with the cherry. Enjoy!

5. Old Fashioned

This classic cocktail has numerous variations and twists, and is also the source of many debates. The old fashioned is comprised of very few ingredients so proper composition is extremely important. This means that if one measurement is off, there are very few other tastes to mask the mistake. As stated on shakestir.com: The drink’s history is a confusing one because it refers to a style and not one particular drink. In the early to mid 19th century, The Sling was a popular mixed drink that contained only spirit, sugar, water, and perhaps a grate of nutmeg. At some point bitters was added to the mix, birthing the “Bittered Sling,” which came be known as the “Cock-tail.” Faster than you can mix one up, variations were born. Fruits here and liqueurs there muddled up the original, and purists and old farts began to request their Cock-tails the “old-fashioned way.” Over time this simply became an “Old-Fashioned.”

Here is our recipe for a proper Old Fashioned:

  • 2 oz Whiskey
  • Angostura bitters
  • .5 tsp of Sugar or 1 small Sugar cube
  • A piece of Lemon Peel
  • Ice

Dissolve sugar with a little water in a rocks glass. Add 2 dashes of Angostura bitters, one cube of ice and whiskey. Mix with a proper bar spoon. Coat the rim of the rocks glass with the lemon peel and discard or drop into the drink to garnish.


6. Madison Kick

The name says it all. This recipe takes the classic and neat drink (vodka on the rocks) and gives it a polite kick in the butt. The chilled cucumber masks the taste of straight alcohol and the jalapeño adds a nice kick of flavor:

  • 4 oz Ketel One or Belvedere
  • 1 Sliver of Jalapeño
  • 1 Slice of chilled Cucumber
  • Ice

Fill a standard rocks glass with ice. Add a top shelf vodka, a sliver of jalapeño and a slice of chilled cucumber. Stir briefly with a bar spoon. For full effect, it is important that the jalapeño and cucumber are submerged within the liquor, they should not sit on the top of the ice or on the rim of the glass.

7. Gentleman's Press

A simple tipple, but one that is loved by many, is the Gentleman's Press. This one must be made with Gentleman Jack Rare Tennessee Whiskey and Ginger beer. It is not an overly complicated cocktail to mix but it is sure to satiate the most complicated palate:

  • 2 oz Gentleman Jack Rare Tennessee Whiskey
  • 3 oz Ginger beer
  • Lime wedge Garnish
  • Ice

Place all ingredients (sans Lime) into a Collins glass filled with ice. Stir briefly and garnish with the Lime wedge.

8. Moscow Mule

This is a fascinating drink and is described by its inventors to "lift the spirit of adventure." The Mule MUST be served in a copper cup for full effect. Though this cocktail was born in New York City, its rise in popularity occurred in Los Angeles. 

One night in Manhattan's Chatham bar, three friends, one John A. Morgan, president of Cock 'n' Bull Products, John G. Martin, president of G.F. Heublein Brothers Inc., and Rudolph Kunett, president of the Pierre Smirnoff, were sharing drinks and stories of adventure. As the tale goes, "We three were quaffing a slug, nibbling an hors d'oeuvre and shoving toward inventive genius". They wondered what would happen if a shot, along with the squeeze of a lime were joined with Morgan's ginger beer (source). The concoction was created, a toast was made and the drink was dubbed the Moscow Mule:

  • 2 oz Vodka
  • 1 oz Lime Juice
  • 6 oz Ginger Ale
  • Ice
  • Copper Cup or Glass Jar

For the full effect, fill a copper cup with ice. Place all ingredients into the cup and stir briefly. 

9. Scotch & Soda

Also known as a Highball, the Scotch & Soda originated in the UK sometime in the early 1800's. It was referred to as a Highball initially because it was the most commonly made drink in the highball glass ("The 'Scotch Highball'". New York Times. March 25, 1904. p. 8.). It is an exceptionally easy drink to master and we recommend making it with a top shelf blended scotch (our preferred choice is Johnnie Walker Black). Though this is a refreshing drink any time of year, it is an especially popular way of sipping scotch during warmer days:

  • 1.5 oz top shelf Blended Scotch
  • 4.5 oz Club Soda
  • Lemon twist
  • Ice

Fill a chilled collins glass with ice. Add scotch and club soda. Hold glass at a 45 degree angle while adding the soda to avoid foam. Coat the rim with a lemon and garnish with a twist.

10. Rusty Nail

This drink, one of our favorites here at Madison Pears, is sure to impress most scotch aficionados. The combination of Drambuie and whiskey first popped up in 1937. However, it took another few decades for the concoction to become self-realized, grow in popularity and assume it's current name and form. In New York, it was dubbed the Little Club No. 1 after the swanky joint on East 55th st. (frequented by the entertainment industry). Across the world, it was referred to as a Mig-21 in the USAF officers club in Thailand. At the same time, in the midwestern US it was called a Knucklehead (Esquire).

The origin of the name "Rusty Nail" has been most often credited to the 21 Club in Manhattan (its etymology dates back to the 1960's). However, the cocktail's name was official when Gina MacKinnon, the chairwoman of the Drambuie Liqueur Company, gave the Rusty Nail her endorsement in The New York Times circa 1963 (Esquire). Furthermore, the Rat Pack was enamored by the drink, which led to its popularity and wide adoption across the states (source). Regardless of its origin, it is a timeless classic that should be a staple in every man's bar:

  • 1.5 oz top shelf Scotch or Glenlivet 15
  • .75 oz Drambuie
  • Lemon twist
  • Ice

Fill a rocks glass with ice. Pour ingredients into the glass and stir well. Garnish with lemon twist

It's not necessary to master every drink in the world, but these 10 should get you on your way. We opted to include both staples and unique concoctions. Choose a few that match your palate and personality, and you'll be well equipped when you set out on your next adventure.