There truly are few things on this planet we enjoy more than a good cocktail. There’s just something so alluring about cocktails that makes us really, really enjoy ‘em. The way they look in the glass, the science that goes into making them and, of course, the way they taste… And if you’re a cocktail aficionado, you know it’s a great time to be alive, because cocktails are making a comeback in a big way. The classics, especially.
You’ve heard of the classic martini and old-fashioned, but what about the more obscure—but equally tasty—options out there? As the present becomes the past and trends change, so do the booze we consume and the ways we consume them. In some instances, change is good (You ever had a Hanky Panky? Blegh!). But in others? Well, we’ll let you find out for yourselves.
Here are 6 Obscure Cocktails You Need to Try Right Now
Corpse Reviver #1
We know what you’re thinking: “Damn, man, that’s a bad ass name for a cocktail!” And you’re right; it is. And maybe you’re also thinking, “Eh, I’ve heard of a corpse reviver.” This may also be true. However, when you ordinarily think of a corpse reviver, you’re thinking of a Corpse Reviver #2, which consists of gin, a little Cointreau and some absinthe. Its lesser-known predecessor, the Corpse Reviver #1, is one of our absolute favorite of all the old-school cocktails because it involves a base of cognac, with a little bit of sweet vermouth and calvados (French apple brandy), shaken and strained into a standard martini glass.
What’s cooler than the cocktail’s name, if you can believe it, is its origin story. Harry Craddock first listed the Corpse Reviver cocktails in 1930 in the famous Savoy Cocktail Handbook. However, an earlier recipe for the Corpse Reviver can actually be spotted in cocktail books as early as 1903. Nevertheless, they were intended to be lighter, airier cocktails to be served earlier on in the day, and were marketed as hangover cures. Hence the name “Corpse Reviver.”
Luckily, because classic cocktails are in the mainstream again, saying the words “Corpse Reviver” to your neighborhood cocktail bar mixologist probably won’t get you looked at like you have two heads. You may need to specify what you’re looking for, but they should be able to accommodate. (recipe)
Death in the Gulf Stream
The world knows Ernest Hemingway for a handful of things. He was a fighter, a soldier, a fisherman and an avid explorer, but above all else, he was an unbelievably talented writer and one hell of a drinker. That said, one of his favorite cocktails—one he himself invented—is called “Death in the Gulf Stream” (Quite an appropriate title for a man unique as he). This standard highball cocktail involves little more than Angostura bitters, fresh lime juice and gin.
Despite its macabre name, Hemingway actually described the drink as “reviving and refreshing,” and one that “cools the blood and inspires renewed interest in food, companions and life.” We’re not too sure about all that, but we can say that this undoubtedly bitter cocktail will definitely wake you up and cool you off on a hot summer morning. (recipe)
The most interesting thing about this delicious and refreshing highball cocktail is that in its original iteration, which dates all the way back to the 1910s, it was a non-alcoholic drink. Called the “Horse’s Neck,” it first appeared in the cocktail book “Drinks” by bartender Jacques Straub. On its own, the virgin concoction worked well: A simple glass of ginger beer with a little lemon rind for garnish to brighten things up a bit.
But somewhere along the way, the drink got an adult upgrade that rid it of the lemon, added in some bitters and tossed some good ol’ Bourbon in for some, uh, “panache.”
The result, of course, is what we now know today as The Horsefeather. The drink is still popular all over Kansas City, but it still lives in relative obscurity throughout the rest of the country. With your help and a lot of taste testing, we can change that! (recipe)
The Leap Year
Another Prohibition-era cocktail from the archives of The Savoy Cocktail Book, The Leap Year was invented by Harry Craddock himself, for the Leap Year celebrations on February 29th, 1928 at the Savoy Hotel in London. According to Craddock, this single cocktail was responsible for more proposals than any other cocktail that has ever been mixed. While we can’t actually verify that claim, we do love knowing the precise origin of this cocktail, especially because so many of the older ones have been lost to time or are frequently left up to conjecture.
Anyway, The Leap Year uses a gin base, mixed with equal parts Grand Marinier and sweet vermouth, along with a little lemon juice to bring out the contrast of the sweet and bitter flavor profile. From there, it’s poured into a cocktail shaker, filled with ice, shaken well and then strained into a chilled cocktail glass. Serve with a twist, and call it a day! Though it was originally served in the dead of winter, we can definitely see this cocktail feeling at home in every season. (recipe)
The White Lady
Another once-famous-but-now-obscure cocktail, The White Lady is gin-based cocktail (If you’re noticing a trend, it’s because gin was very popular in the first half of the 20th Century) that also incorporates Cointreau, fresh lemon juice and an optional egg white to create an absolutely delicious little cocktail that usually gets fine strained into a chilled coupe glass. You can do it with or without the egg whites (Personally, we prefer without), but whatever you do, don’t forget the lemon peel twist—it makes the cocktail.
Like many of its contemporaries, there are quite a few booze concoctors who lay claim to this drink. Far as we know, the very first version of The White Lady was introduced in 1919 by the one and only Harry McElhone, back when he was working at London’s Ciro Club (before Harry’s New York Bar). However, Harry’s version used white crème de menthe instead of gin and egg white. It is said, however, that after he opened his bar in 1923, he began substituting the crème de menthe with gin. But then Craddock published a much drier version of the recipe in the Savoy Cocktail Book in 1930, which opted for more gin. But then somewhere along the way, legendary American Bar manager Peter Dorelli decided that adding egg white to the drink would give it a more voluminous, silkier feel. While it’s not exactly clear who’s most responsible for what we today know as a classic White Lady, we do know that it’s tasty as hell no matter what. (recipe)
We enjoy most of the cocktails on this list, but if we had to pick just one to drink for the rest of our days, it’d be the Sidecar, or as we here in the office call it, The Gentleman’s Mimosa. This simple, classic drink uses nothing more than cognac, triple sec and lemon juice to create an incredible flavor profile that is both boozy and bitter, but also pleasant, sweet and even refreshing. It’s incredibly versatile, can be drank at any time of season (or time of day, if you’re looking at a boozy brunch), and we consider it to be one of the perfect and most shamefully obscure cocktails out there. It’s the perfect balance between sweet and sour.
We also love the sidecar’s origin story. It’s said that it was invented by a U.S. Army Captain in Paris following WWI, and was named after the sidecar motorcycle the sidecar motorcycle he rode in on. How bad ass is that?! (recipe)