top of page

The Amazing Cocktail

Cocktails have apparently made a comeback. To the younger generation, they think they are drinking a new beverage called the Moscow Mule. Little do they know that the Moscow Mule is older than their grandparents. Born in 1941 in New York’s Chatham Hotel, the drink was originally named “Little Moscow.” But I digress. Cocktails, in my opinion, have never really died. They have always been present in one way or another. In the 1950s and 60s, cocktails, cocktail parties, and cocktail dresses were all the rage. It was a daily ritual for a wife to whip up a cocktail for her and her hubby to enjoy when he came home from a hard day at work. A chaser, if you will, to the fantastic meal a 1960s housewife slaved over all day for her family. Yes, cocktails were served up in elegant crystal glasses and they were a mix of hard alcohol and some kind of mixer or juice. They came in every shape and size and satisfied the most discriminating palate. They were served on the rocks and straight up. With cherries, olives, or a lime twist. Yes, cocktails in 1950 were as American as apple pie.

Cocktail parties were very popular gatherings in the 50’s and 60s. These events were social occasions that were sometimes themed and always served up a variety of cocktails and hot and cold hors d’oeuvres. The rules for cocktail parties in 1950 were simple: 1) the event should last no longer than an hour and a half, 2) guests should be allowed to arrive and leave freely, and 3) the gathering should be cheerful in nature and guest should avoid talking about politics, religion, and personal topics. The dress code for these affairs were elegant cocktail dresses and heels for the ladies and a suite and tie for the men. It was unacceptable to bring a child to this kind of event since libations were being served liberally. Besides, parents in the 1950’s would never dream of taking a child with them to an adult function. This was an evening out for a husband and wife. A chance to get away from the kids, let their hair down, and have some fun.

And no cocktail party was ever complete without the guest of honor – the cocktail! For this blog, I did some research on the vast array of cocktails that were served at these gatherings. Cocktails made appearances at other events too, some not so social. For example, it was not unusual to be offered a cocktail when businessmen got together in the office to discuss business. If you are a fan of the show, “Madmen” you can easily see that the ad execs drink while on the job. It was considered in 1950 and 1960 to be socially acceptable. And who can forget the dapper 007, James Bond, and his martini, shaken not stirred. Even the lovely Holly Golightly in “Breakfast at Tiffanys” loved her Champaign Cocktails and the infamous Rat Pack (Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin, Sammy Davis, Jr., Peter Lawford, and Joey Bishop) were known to drink cocktails in their movies and on stage during their acts. Cocktails were the main attraction in 1950s & 60s and why not? They were simply delicious concoctions that made drinking to excess an elegant and refined experience.

When I looked at the list of cocktails that one could drink in 1950 through 1979, my head spun. For this blog, I decided to choose a few of the most popular cocktails. Some of these were considered “ladies drinks” while others were hard core male beverages. Let’s take a look at them.

Tom Collins – Now this is one of my favorite drinks and my late father was partial to this drink as well. We both ordered this drink “on the sweet side” which meant we wanted a bit more Simple Syrup added to the mixture to make it sweet like candy. Other ingredients are gin, club soda, and lemon juice. The drink is shaken and then poured over ice and served in a tall, slender glass with a cherry and lime garnish on a toothpick. This drink is very refreshing and is likened by old time drinkers to a Lime Rickey.

Sidecar – Invented in Paris in 1920, the Sidecar is a sweet and sour drink that appeals to both ladies and gentlemen. This drink is elegant but can pack a punch if you overindulge. It is made with either Brandy, Bourbon, or Cognac, Triple Sec, and Lemon juice. It is served straight up in a martini glass and the glass rim in always sugared. Not for the faint of heart, the Sidecare will sideline you, but it is definitely worth the ride.

Pink Squirrel – This unique tasting drink has fallen out of favor in the bar scenes today but was a frothy favorite of ladies about four decades ago. If you like the combination of almond and chocolate then this is your cocktail! The Pink Squirrel is made in a blender. It combines Crème de Noyaux, White Cream de Cacao, and heavy cream. It is blended with crushed ice to make a smooth, frothy drink. The blender produces a beautiful pink liquid hence the name “Pink” Squirrel. (I am unclear as to where the squirrel title came into play, but I’m guessing that the drink’s creator probably had a few of them before all was said and done. Maybe he saw pink squirrels after drinking a few. Who knows!)

Manhattan – In 1880, the Manhattan Club in New York City debuted a drink that was small bit mighty. It was designed for the male executives in Manhattan that needed a stiff drink to sooth away the troubles of the workday. This drink was a favorite of my husband’s uncle, Jess. Make no mistake about it, Jess made a GREAT Manhattan! My dad was not a drinker so he described a Manhattan as a drink that would “take your head off” and that is exactly what it does with its combination of Bourbon or Rye whiskey, Sweet Vermouth, Angostura Bitters, and Orange Bitters. Ice is used to make this drink but it is usually strained out of it before it is poured. A Manhattan is served in a Champaign glass or a fancy rocks glass with a stemmed maraschino cherry for good measure.

Grasshopper – This is one of my all-time favorite cocktails. My dad would make me one of these when I was a kid and my parents were hosting a cocktail party. (Hey, it was the 1960s and parents did these things without worry! Don’t judge. 😉) This drink combines two of my favorite flavors – mint and chocolate! Served in a martini glass, this drink is comprised of Crème de Menthe, White Cream de Cacao, heavy cream, and ice. This cocktail is shaken and served cold straight up. It is delightfully refreshing and makes a pretty presentation.

I wish I could host an old-fashioned cocktail party where the ladies were dressed to the nines and men came looking dapper and elegant. But alas, those days are long gone. Especially in the age of COVID-19. I guess I’ll have to settle for wearing my vintage frocks and whipping up a cocktail for me and my husband before we eat dinner.

So the next time you “cozy up to the bar,” instead of settling for a beer or a glass of wine, why not try a cocktail? You might be surprised how these tasty drinks of yesteryear can put a smile on your face and a buzz in your head. Hey, Tom Cruise made a movie called “Cocktail” so there must be something to these magical, amazing concoctions! 💋

53 views0 comments

Recent Posts

See All
bottom of page