The best cocktails ever

A classic ... A margarita cocktail at Porteno in Sydney.
A classic ... A margarita cocktail at Porteno in Sydney. Photo: Domino Postiglione

Mint Julep

To be fair the Mint Julep pre-dates the existence of the word "cocktail". In fact, this delicious mix of American whiskey, sugar, mint and ice even predates the use of the very whiskey it now contains. Early juleps were fashioned by American colonists with brandy, rum or whatever spirit came to hand. This drink has proved a keeper though and can be ordered in any decent bar-room.

90ml Straight bourbon whiskey or rye (Woodford Reserve makes a full-flavoured julep)
1 teaspoon castor sugar
Lots of mint
Crushed ice

Method: Load the bottom of a pewter tankard, glass or, if you're lucky enough to have one, a julep cup with fresh mint leaves. Add your sugar and gentle muddle with the mint. Pack your vessel with crushed ice and pour the whiskey over it. Stir vigorously add more crushed ice and garnish with at least three sprigs of mint.

Brandy Punch

Before the idea of a single-serve cocktail really took off, punch was the king of drinks. Gentlemen would dutifully station themselves around an overflowing bowl of punch and not budge till they had drunk it dry or keeled over. This single serve punch was a revelation and comes from the first ever bartender's guide written in 1862. The drink is still a doozey.

90ml VS cognac brandy (fine champagne cognac like Remy Martin works a treat)
30ml lemon juice
30ml still water
10ml real raspberry syrup
2 teaspoons castor sugar

Method: Combine all ingredients in a shaker and fill with ice. Shake briskly and strain into a tall ice filled tumbler. Garnish with orange slices, pineapple and raspberries.



Prohibition banned the sale and supply of beverage alcohol to the American public for 13 years from 1920 to 1933. It led to the rise of the 'speakeasy' bar, organised crime, and normalised the fairer sex being allowed into bars. It also encouraged Americans to travel – and wherever they went the brought the local tipple back with them. Tequila went from an obscure local Mexican tipple to a global bar staple thanks to Prohibition and this mighty tasty classic.

50ml 100 per cent puro de agave tequila
15ml Triple sec (Cointreau is a leading brand)
5ml sugar syrup
20ml freshly squeezed lime juice

Method: Add all ingredients to an iced shaker. Shake briskly and strain into a chilled cocktail glass rimmed with a little lime and flaky sea salt.

Japanese Slipper

This neon combination of Midori, Cointreau and lemon took the world by storm when it was first mixed up in 1984. It wasn't created in the nightclubs of London, Manhattan or gay old Paris, however. Rather it was a Melbourne bartender by the name of Jean-Paul Bourguignon who we can thank for this creation. It's as retro as Tom Cruise in the movie Cocktail, and hardly the most macho drink going around, but it's a pretty safe bet that if a bar stocks a bottle of Midori they know how to whip this one up. Just don't tell too many people how much you enjoy it.

30ml Midori
30ml Cointreau
30ml Lemon juice

Method: Add all ingredients to an iced shaker. Shake briskly and strain into a chilled cocktail glass. Garnish with a cocktail cherry or a slice of honeydew melon.

Pharmaceutical Stimulant (aka Espresso Martini)

In the fast paced life of the '80s a strange new stimulant known as x-presso starting popping up in bars and coffee shops in London. In 1984 an inspired barkeep, by the name of Dick Bradsell, who worked at Soho's infamous Fred's Bar decided to throw it in a cocktail. Now commonly known as the Espresso Martini this beverage remains most of most popular going tipples going around almost 30 years on.

50ml vodka
15ml coffee liqueur (like Kahlua or Toussaint)
5ml sugar syrup
30ml shot of fresh espresso

Method: Add all ingredients to a shaker, ice then shake to the 1984 Michael Jackson hit Thriller. Garnish with three coffee beans.

Source: This was originally published as a blog entry on Booze Hound on May 4, 2012.