What makes a cocktail manly? It’s an intriguing question with a fair amount of debate — but let’s touch on a few basic rules. A manly cocktail shouldn’t be overly sweet. A manly cocktail never employs a straw. And a manly drink is never blue, green, pink, or purple.
But most of all, a manly cocktail hits the palette sharply with either potent alcohol, strong sourness, powerful bitterness, or combination of the three. It challenges the tastebuds and burns the throat. That’s why they are rarely loved by first-time drinkers.
Whether the cocktails we exhibit here truly are ‘the manliest’ of all is up for interpretation, but there is one thing we’re certain of — they’re all pretty damn good.
You’ll need: 6 fluid oz of vodka, 1 dash of dry vermouth, 1 oz of olive juice, 3 green olives
Made famous by James Bond, if a dirty martini is manly enough for 007, it’s probably manly enough for you. Pour the ingredients into a shaker, give a few generous shakes, and pour into a Martini glass. This signature drink is straight classy.
Be sure to use a vodka that’s of higher quality. Since there’s not much to this timeless cocktail, nothing will mask the impurities of a cheap spirit. Also, don’t shake your shaker for too long or you’ll risk watering down your martini.
You’ll need: 2 oz of Bourbon or Rye Whiskey, 2 dashes of Angostura Bitters, 1 splash of water or club soda, 1 tbsp of sugar, 1 Maraschino Cherry, 1 Orange Wedge
While the Old Fashioned may be a standby, there’s a lot of debate on how this drink should be made. We’ll start you off with the most traditional recipe and leave any variations up to you. First, pour your sugar, water, and bitters into your glass. Using a muddler or a spoon, muddle these ingredients together. Garnish by placing your cherry and orange wedge in the glass.
Looking to reinvent the Old Fashioned? Try muddling your fruit, adding in brown sugar, or add an ice cube for something to cut this strong drink.
You’ll need: 2 oz of rye whiskey, .5 oz of sweet vermouth, 2-3 dashes of Angostura bitters
This drink is almost as famous as the island it’s named for. Pour your ingredients into your mixing glass or shaker. Either stir or shake, strain and add a Maraschino cherry or black olives as garnish. It’s traditionally served in a Martini glass, but any glass will do.
There are several takes on this cocktail, but this bare-bones recipe is all you need if you’re looking for a straightforward order.
You’ll need: 1.5 oz of scotch, .5 oz of Drambuie, 1 twist lemon peel
While it may not have the most appealing name, the Rusty Nail couldn’t be simpler to make. Fill an Old Fashioned glass to the top with ice. Pour in your Scotch and Drambuie. Stir and then drop in your lemon peel. This drink’s smooth taste is best enjoyed after dinner.
If you prefer a stiffer drink, ditch the ice. Taking this drink neat makes the Scotch even bolder.
You’ll need: 1.5 oz of cognac (or bourbon), 1 oz of triple sec, .5 oz of lemon juice
This cocktail has been around since WWI and has been a staple ever since. How do you make this drink? You guessed it. Put all the ingredients into a shaker and don’t be afraid to shake generously on this one.
Adding some ice to the mix will offset the tartness of the lemon juice.
You’ll need: 2 oz of absinthe, 6 oz of cold water, 1-2 sugar cubes, 1 slotted spoon
This spirit is making a comeback following a 95-year-long ban. Pour your Absinthe into the glass. Place your spoon across the glass and your sugar cubes over the spoon’s head. Then pour your water over the spoon and sugar. This historically controversial drink has a licorice flavor to it and the sugar serves to cut that harsh taste.
Absinthe wasn’t banned for no reason — drink slowly and test the waters to see how this libation affects you.
You’ll need: 1.5 oz of scotch (or bourbon), .75 oz of Amaretto almond liqueur
If you find yourself in need of a stiff drink stat, the Godfather is what you’ll be reaching for. Pour both the Scotch and Amaretto into an Old Fashioned glass. Stir slightly. If you opt to skip the ice or extra garnishes, this drink may be the stiffest of the list.
Raise Your Glass
If you’re looking for a classic cocktail to become your version of “Give me the usual”, any of the drinks above will make a fine choice. But don’t drink something just because other people think it’s manly. Whether you’re out with friends or mixing up something at your home bar, if you’re choking back a drink you don’t enjoy, it’s going to be a lot less fun.
Don’t be afraid to try something different. Attitudes have shifted over the years — and with a new army of amazingly creative and competitive mixologists out there, it would be a shame not to see what other flavor combinations they have waiting for you.
What’s your favorite drink? Let us know in the comments.
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