Nail your cocktail party with tips from The Everleigh crew

Cocktails from Michael Madrusan and Zara Young's book, A Spot at the Bar.
Cocktails from Michael Madrusan and Zara Young's book, A Spot at the Bar. Photo: Kristoffer Paulsen

From the same detail-oriented minds that created Melbourne's most precise golden era cocktail bar, The Everleigh, plus the Navy Strength Ice Co, creator of pure ice for bars of distinction, and the authentically sleazy dive bar Heartbreaker, comes the best cocktail book of the year.

Bartender, bar owner and all-round booze nerd Michael Madrusan has long been known as one of the most fastidious can shakers in Australia, so call us completely unsurprised that his first book, A Spot at the Bar, co-written with business partner Zara Young, is not only an encyclopaedic drinks manual but an all-round guide to winning at life. Buy it for the drinks, but dig between the pages and you'll also find advice on statement heels, party etiquette and recipes for crab toasts.

The following is an extract from A Spot at the Bar by Michael Madrusan and Zara Young, Hardie Grant, RRP $45.

New cocktail book, <i>A Spot at the Bar</i>.
New cocktail book, A Spot at the BarPhoto: Supplied

Everleigh at Home

How much for how many?

For the casual affair, void of formal invitations and RSVPs, count on about 70 per cent of those invited showing up. The smart host expects unexpected guests, and has an additional stash of liquor and snacks set aside. With an average number of attendees in mind, you can calculate how many bottles of booze it'll take to keep everyone topped up throughout the evening. For example, a 700 ml (23 fl oz) bottle of spirits will cater to approximately 11 cocktails. Depending what other beverages are on offer, it's wise to prepare for at least three cocktails a person.

Glassware & ice

When deciding on your menu for the evening, take note of which drinks go in which glass, (Collins glass, cocktail glass, rocks glass, etc.) and be sure to have enough of each shape and style. Stemmed cocktail glasses are guaranteed to do the rounds, taking care of your shaken citrusy numbers, stiff stirred classics and champagne, should things get festive. When it comes to ice, you always need more than you think. The DIY method is doable if you have the space, time and enthusiasm. Alternatively, order handcut blocks from your nearest ice company and wow the crowd with diamond cuts they can read a book through.

THE FOUR ACES

For us, "classic cocktail" means a timeless, elegant drink, simple in style and form and premium in quality. Cocktails of this calibre are bold and proud in flavour and appearance. We show them the respect they deserve by always using the finest and freshest ingredients we can get our hands on. The beauty of the four aces lies in their simplicity. Each drink in the set is quick and easy to prepare, yet packs a punch. Whether it's an aperitif or a nightcap you're after, the four aces cover all bases.

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THE MARTINI

The origins of the martini are shrouded in mystery; everyone wants a piece of her. Described by author H. L. Mencken as "the only American invention as perfect as the sonnet", the martini is so strong and sexy, simply ordering one is enough to make us weak at the knees.

Manhattan cocktail from A Spot at the Bar,?

Photo: Kristoffer Paulsen

60 ml (2 fl oz) gin

30 ml (1 fl oz) Dolin dry vermouth

2 dashes orange bitters

olive, pickled onion or lemon twist, to garnish

Add your ingredients to a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a frozen cocktail glass. Garnish with a lemon twist, an olive or a pickled onion.

This 2:1 ratio is our house martini (two parts gin to one part dry vermouth). We love it quite "wet", which is to say we like it with more dry vermouth. If you like it even more wet, try the Fifty Fifty, which is equal parts gin and vermouth.

If dry is more your style, the 5:1 ratio should do the trick – five parts gin to one part dry vermouth. That's 75 ml (2½ fl oz) gin to 15 ml (½ fl oz) dry vermouth.

Like it dirty? How dirty? We use the terms dusty, dirty and filthy to describe the varying levels of olive brine desired. For a dusty martini add 7 ml (¼ fl oz), for a dirty martini add 15 ml (½ fl oz) and for a full throttle filthy martini throw in 22 ml (¾ fl oz).

Go crazy with those olive garnishes. We pop one in the drink and two in a sidecar.

Like yours garnished with a pickled onion? We call that a Gibson. The possibilities are almost endless.

THE NEGRONI

Our Negroni is Melbourne's favourite back-pocket cocktail. Utilising Cocchi sweet vermouth to a carefully considered degree, we created what was described by Drinks International as "one of the best we've ever had. Anywhere. Ever." in the coveted World's Top 50 Bars, 2013.

Manhattan cocktail from <i>A Spot at the Bar</i>.

Photo: Kristoffer Paulsen

22 ml (.7 fl oz) gin

30 ml (1 fl oz) Cocchi sweet vermouth

22 ml (.7 fl oz) Campari

orange twist, to garnish

Build your ingredients in a rocks glass with ice. Garnish with an orange twist.

Add a few dashes of absinthe to get one of my personal favourites, the Quill.

Top up your Negroni with a splash of sparkling wine and you've got the Famiglia Reale.

Take the gin out and replace it with sparkling wine for the low-alcohol, bubbly aperitif Negroni S'bagliato.

Champagne will, of course, also do nicely in both cases!

THE MANHATTAN

An elegant, boozy cocktail that dates to the 1870s. Rich in vermouth flavour and rye whiskey. Rye, bourbon's spicier sibling, is the original whiskey used to make the Manhattan, and this one packs a punch at 45 per cent abv. Our bottled Manhattan is our favourite of the four.

60 ml (2 fl oz) rye whiskey

30 ml (1 fl oz) Cocchi sweet vermouth

cherry, to garnish

Add your ingredients to a mixing glass with ice. Stir and strain into a frozen cocktail glass. Garnish with a cherry.

Manhattan Junior just requires an orange twist in place of a cherry garnish. This is a really great, incredibly simple twist.

Need a little spice? The Meteor is a classic Manhattan with a dash of absinthe.

Sweet tooth? Add a dash of maple syrup to get a drink called the Habitant.

Don't have rye? Don't sweat. Bourbon works nicely too. Add a dash of absinthe to your bourbon Manhattan and you have the Waldorf.

Feel like mixing it up even more? Cut your rye in half and replace with cognac so you have equal parts, for the Saratoga.

THE OLD FASHIONED

There are many ways to make this drink. Its simplicity means it's even more important to get it right. Our version is what we call the Old Old Fashioned. No salad, no over dilution. Just whiskey, bitters and sugar over ice.

Manhattan cocktail from A Spot at the Bar,?

Photo: Kristoffer Paulsen

60 ml (2 fl oz) bourbon

3 dashes Angostura bitters

1 white sugar cube

1 bar spoon soda

orange and lemon twists, to garnish

Add all ingredients except bourbon to a rocks glass.

Crush the sugar cube with a muddler and add bourbon.

Add ice and spin the glass once or twice. Garnish with an orange and a lemon twist.

Like many of the drinks in this book, there are many variations on the classics.

The simplest variation on the Old Fashioned is the Hendrick, which calls for a dash of absinthe.

If you prefer scotch whisky over bourbon, try the Choker, a Scotch Old Fashioned with a dash of absinthe. Zara likes hers with a dash of peaty whisky too. She calls that one the Smoky Choker.