Have you ever picked up a cocktail and thought; I wonder what your origins are? Nope, me neither, because first off, I’m not mad, and secondly I’m far too busy enjoying the contents. However, when you do take a minute to explore the rich history surrounding some of the classics, well boy is it interesting. From the caffeine-fulled Espresso Martini to the mysterious Tom Collins, here’s a little look at some of our favourite cock-tales (get it?) surrounding serves created on home soil…
The Espresso Martini
Dick Bradsell was definitely having a moment in the 80s and, to be honest, still is as his name crops up a’plenty when delving into London’s rich cocktail history. The mixologist created a bunch of what we now deem to be “classic” cocktails – The Bramble, Russian Spring Punch and The Treacle – during his time with shaker-in-hand. One of the more famous serves however includes the Espresso Martini! Whilst working at Soho Brasserie on Greek Street, old Dicky bird rustled up the famed coffee and alcohol concoction; a drink that saves us from the realms of tiredness after red wine heavy dinners, and gets us pumped up for night’s out! A well known American model who Dick never named approached the bar demanding a drink that would ‘wake me up, then f**k me up’ and boy did Dick deliver the results!
35ml coffee liqueur
1 shot of espresso
Whilst it’s sometimes hard to pinpoint the origins exactly, there is sufficient evidence that The Collins originated in a hotel in Mayfair, circa 19th century. The lip-smacking classic is based on gin and lemon and was supposedly born at the hands of bartender John Collins. Good ol’ John was practicing his trade at The Coffee House, set within Limmer’s Hotel on Conduit Street, when he decided to pop a twist on an already established classic – the gin punch! Now? You can find a limerick about him in a book named Drinks of the World, so that’s pretty strong proof for us!
If you’re wondering where on earth Tom Collins came from then there is some kind of theatrical fuel behind the fire. It’s deemed the Great Tom Collins Hoax of 1874 and takes place in New York. Basically, a barman tells a customer that a man named Tom Collins had been in the bar spreading rumours about him or insulting him. The man leaves to find the culprit who, he is told, resides in the next door bar. When the man arrives and asks for Tom Collins, he’s handed a cocktail… yep, people made up strange rumours back then!
25ml lemon juice
25ml sugar syrup
125ml chilled soda water
I always use to drink Buck’s Fizz on my mum’s birthday growing up, never really knowing what the heck it was but enjoying the taste all the same. Sometimes, I wonder if anyone actually knows what Buck’s Fizz is but fear not, I’m here to enlighten.
It’s simply just a combo of Champagne and orange juice; two of life’s finest beverages. And, occasionally, if you’re feeling punchy you can add a splash of grenadine to, I don’t know, give off vibes that you’re in the Costa Del Sol or something. The drink was rustled up way back when in 1921 by Pat McGarry, a bartender at Buck’s Club at 18 Clifford Street, and has since seeped into supermarket aisles and onto cocktail menus at God’s speed. The method behind the madness? Well, the drink was created to give patrons an excuse to start drinking early – a concept we’re so on board with!
100ml orange juice, freshly squeezed
200ml chilled Champagne
The Bramble should really be called the headache if my experience is anything to go by. Alas, it’s a darn fine drink that comes from our dear friend Dick (Bradsell) who, in 1984, shook up a storm with the Bramble! The potion-cum-cocktail is made with gin, lemon juice, crème de cassis, sugar syrup, blackberries and a lemon slice. His mission was to create a cocktail inspired by blackberrying on the Isle of Wight, hence the name. And, it was a success, which doesn’t come as much of a surprise as he probably had a ton of energy after consuming all of the espresso martini’s he created. Cheers Dick!
30ml lemon juice
15ml crème de cassis
15ml sugar syrup
3 fresh blackberries
1 lemon slice
The Vesper Martini
Perhaps the most famous of the bunch where London influence is concerned, the Vesper Martini was created the bar of Duke’s Hotel in the 1950s for James Bond author, Ian Fleming. Did he like it shaken not stirred? Well, we can’t be too sure. But what we can be sure of is its inclusion in Casino Royale, named after the secret agent Vesper Lynd – awesome!
The Hanky Panky
Everyone loves a bit of hanky panky, am I right? This classic cocktail was invented at the legendary Savoy hotel in the American Bar – London’s longest standing cocktail bar! The boozy gin offering comes equipped with a host of history. It began when actor Sir Charles Hawtrey asked for a ‘pick-me-up’ and it did the trick, much to Head Bartender, Ada ‘Coley’ Coleman’s relief.
Italian digestivo Fernet-Branca
If you like shaking things up then why not peruse our favourite bars for a sustainable cocktail?