Arts & Culture

3 classic cocktails you forgot about

Martinis, cosmopolitans, and margaritas are being served up in bars all over the world. They remain some of the most popular cocktails in history, but with all the different options that exist, why does everyone seem to stick to the same three or four choices? What about the long-forgotten oldies-but-goodies? Take it back in time — and to your favorite local watering hole — with these three classic cocktails that you probably forgot about.

Tom Collins

Tom Collins cocktail with lemon wedges sitting on the counter of a bar
Credit: SolStock / iStockPhoto

With the ever-growing popularity of alcoholic seltzer drinks lately, it’s a surprise that the Tom Collins hasn’t made an explosive return to the mainstream of cocktails. It was first documented by Jerry Thomas, who is considered the father of American mixology. To make this classic cocktail, mix lemonade, club soda, and gin in a tall glass over ice.

Originally, the drink was created in 1860 and was called the John Collins, named after the bartender who invented it. The name was changed to Tom Collins after a practical joke went “viral” around the eastern United States in 1874. The joke involved asking someone if they had ever heard of Tom Collins. When the person inevitably said no, since Tom Collins was fictitious, the jokester would then go on about how Tom was saying horrible things about them behind their backs. The goal was to get the person angry enough to go out and find the mythical Tom Collins to confront him. The joke became so popular that newspapers would run fake articles about Tom Collins sightings around the city. Eventually the drink adopted the name Tom Collins after the practical joke. The drink, however, is not a joke and is sure to delight even the most picky drinkers.

Bourbon hot toddy

Bartender preparing a bourbon hot toddy and pouring liquor
Credit: TravisLincoln / iStockPhoto

As the winter season approaches, it’s important to have some cold-weather drinks lined up and ready! Cue the bourbon hot toddy. The history of the drink remains somewhat debated, but possibly dates back to Scottish doctors in the 1700s. The mixture of the honey, sugar, and boiling water is to remedy sore throats, and the whiskey is to fix everything else! People have been treating their winter ailments with hot toddies for hundreds of years. Even famous figures like William Faulkner were known to self-prescribe a hot toddy every now and then.

The most likely history of the popular drink is much less interesting. The sweetness of the honey and sugar along with the heat of the water was simply to mask the harsh flavor of the scotch and appeal to a wider audience. Whichever history you choose to believe, it remains a popular cold-weather drink around the world.

You can make a bourbon hot toddy at home by mixing honey, cinnamon, lemon, and bourbon in one cup of hot water. Enjoy on the coldest of winter days, blankets optional.

Grasshopper

Two tall grasshopper cocktails placed on a tray with dynamic lighting
Credit: maurese / iStockPhoto

This colorful drink made its appearance in 1910 right before Prohibition took hold in the United States. A New Orleans bar owner created the concoction to enter in a New York City cocktail contest and ended up winning second place. He brought the recipe back to Louisiana and named it the grasshopper for its signature color. It is popular with younger drinkers as the low alcohol percentage and super-sweet flavor mask the taste of the alcohol.

The grasshopper is made with equal parts crème de menthe and crème de cacao with a splash of cream mixed in. While the alcohol content may not be as high as other drinks, drinkers commonly take it upon themselves to help out in that regard with a splash of whiskey or brandy. In Wisconsin, the grasshopper has been adapted to the dairy-loving Midwest to include ice cream!