Vodka cocktails were almost nonexistent and not popular till the 1940s. Except for the Bloody Mary, I can’t think of a single cocktail that contained vodka before the 1940s. What happened in the 1940s to change that? The Moscow Mule was invented in 1941, and its overnight success suddenly made vodka a popular spirit. Most classic vodka cocktails can be traced back to this period. Since Vodka had no history of being used as an ingredient, bartenders found it easy to replace gin with vodka and give the drink a fun new name. The screwdriver was just an orange blossom with vodka. The vodka Martini was just a martini with vodka, and a drink called the Russian Bear (most likely origin of the White Russian) was just an Alexander with vodka instead of gin, and the list goes on.
In David Embury’s 1948 book “The Fine Art Of Mixing,” he states he has no idea why anyone would want to replace gin for vodka as it is a flavorless dull spirit that adds nothing to a drink. He compared mixing with vodka to mixing with water. Lucius Beebe’s 1946 book “The Stork Club Bar Book” is less judgmental of vodka cocktails but also claims most vodka cocktails are just modified gin cocktails. Beebe provides two vodka martini recipes which are garnished and served identical to a standard dry martini. This is Beebe’s Vodka Martini #1 recipe that follows the same 1:2 ratio of dry vermouth to dry gin as a traditional dry martini.
Ian Fleming created the Vesper Martini in his 1953 book “Casino Royale” which was also the debut of James Bond. In Chapter 7 of the book, Bond thinks up the drink on the spot and requests the barman make it for him.
-Casino Royale- ‘A dry martini,’ he said. ‘One. In a deep champagne goblet.’ ‘Oui, monsieur.’ ‘Just a moment. Three measures of Gordon’s, one of vodka, half a measure of Kina Lillet. Shake it very well until it’s ice-cold, then add a large thin slice of lemon peel. Got it?’ ‘Certainly monsieur.’ The barman seemed pleased with the idea. ‘Gosh, that’s certainly a drink,’ said Leiter. Bond laughed. ‘When I’m … er … concentrating,’ he explained, ‘I never have more than one drink before dinner. But I do like that one to be large and very strong and very cold, and very well-made. I hate small portions of anything, particularly when they taste bad. This drink’s my own invention. I’m going to patent it when I think of a good name.’
As Bond states, the original vesper is massive. It’s 4.5 oz (130 mLs) of solid booze before any water is even diluted into the drink. His recipe would require a 6 oz (180 mLs) glass minimum to hold the drink. That’s a bit unreasonable, so for the recipe listed here, I have cut it by half, but be aware that the original is double the size on this site. After his love interest in Casino Royale, Bond eventually calls his cocktail the Vesper. By the end of the book, Vesper Lynd has revealed herself to be a double agent working against Bond but overcome by her guilt and genuine feelings for him; she sacrifices herself to save him. Stricken by the sadness of Vesper Lynd’s death, Bond never orders another Vesper again.
Should The Vesper Be Shaken Or Stirred?
Bond requests the drink to be shaken and not stirred. I have a much more in-depth write-up on the origins of shaking drinks that were traditionally stirred in my dry martini article. Essentially during the 1920s – late 1930s, shaking became a way to soften the harsher gins of the time and add a bit of effervescence to the drink. You could be sure that a quick shake would rapidly dilute and cool the glass as much as possible for a bartender of any experience level. A colder, more diluted drink with tons of tiny bubbles would help soften and mask the poor quality of prohibition-era gins. To get similar results stirring a drink requires more patience and skill, which was lacking in prohibition-era America. In addition to poor quality alcohol, were poor quality bartenders. Young patrons found the best way to mitigate those issues was to ask for the drink shaken. Shaken martinis thus became associated with the way trendy young drinkers requested stiff drinks and evolved into more of an image. In the recipe for the dry martini, the author of The Old Waldorf-Astoria Cocktail book laments this trend and states how the old skilled bartenders of pre-prohibition times refused to make martinis this way.
Bond uses this association to establish himself to the reader as a young and hip assassin. Requesting his cocktails shaken is a kind of world-building that tells the audience that Bond is trendy and sophisticated, not old and stiff. I find it quite funny because, stay with me here, Casino Royale was published in 1953. This mainly was a trend of the 1920s – early 1940s. The only person in the 1950s who would think a shaken martini still was young and trendy would be an older man who started drinking in the 1920s or 30s. Ian Fleming was born in 1908, so he was a young and impressionable drinker during the 1930s when this was a more common request. These were books written for older men to remind them of when they were young—giving them a kind of fantasy alternate reality youth.
Should You Substitute Kina Lillet With Lillet Blanc Or Cocchi Americano?
Unfortunately, the original ingredient Kina Lillet was discontinued by the Lillet company in 1986. What replaced it is Lillet Blanc, but Lillet Blanc is a different wine from what Kina Lillet was. I will clearly say I have personally never tasted the now defunct Kina Lillet. But from other sources and individuals familiar with its taste, most say Cocchi Americano is closer to what Kina Lillet used to taste like than Lillet Blanc. So even though it shares the Lillet name, you may want to substitute Cocchi Americano for the Kina Lillet. For any pre-1980s cocktail that calls for Kina Lillet, use Cocchi Americano.
The common history of the Bloody Mary is it originated in 1920s Paris, France, by Fernand Petiot while working at The New York Bar. Fernand came up with the Bloody Mary as a hair of the dog drink to cure hangovers, and the popular myth states it was none other than the famous drunk Ernest Hemingway who Fernand first made the cocktail for. While that is likely, not true, it’s still fun to imagine.
The most likely origin of the Bloody Mary is it began as a 1920s temperance-era tomato juice cocktail. A tomato juice cocktail from that time would be made with tomato juice, bay leaf, grated onion, lemon juice, and celery. Similar to the tomato juice cocktail was the oyster cocktail. The oyster cocktail was made of oysters, ketchup, lemon juice, hot sauce, salt, celery, and Worcestershire sauce. If you replace the oyster with olives or pickled peppers (or whatever other crazy thing people put on a Bloody Mary) and combine these two, it makes a virgin Bloody Mary. I’ve seen oysters in Bloody Marys before.
After prohibition ended, Fernand Petiot immigrated to New York and worked at The King Cole Bar at the St. Regis Hotel. According to a July 1964 New Yorker interview with Petiot, there was already a tomato juice and vodka cocktail at the bar created by George Jessel. But it was just tomato juice and vodka, which Petiot found boring and not very good.
George Jessel said he created it, but it was really nothing but vodka and tomato juice when I took it over. I cover the bottom of the shaker with four large dashes of salt, two dashes of black pepper, two dashes of cayenne pepper, and a layer of Worcestershire sauce; I then add a dash of lemon juice and some cracked ice, put in two ounces of vodka and two ounces of thick tomato juice, shake, strain, and pour. We serve a hundred to a hundred and fifty Bloody Marys a day here in the King Cole Room and in the other restaurants and the banquet rooms.
The New Yorker July 18, 1964
Petiot added spices and flavor to the drink, creating the Bloody Mary we know today. George Jessel’s argument was that since he first combined the main ingredients, it was his drink. Still, Petiot argued that since the recipe everyone makes is his version of the drink, he invented the Bloody Mary.
The Bloody Mary also went by the name Red Snapper during its earlier days, as the St. Regis Hotel found the name too vulgar for its high-class clientele. But the cocktail had expanded beyond the hotel’s walls, and the public knew it as the Bloody Mary. As time went on, the Bloody Mary name was the one that stuck.
What Does a Bloody Mary Taste Like?
People’s opinion of a Bloody Mary is typically binary. They either love them or hate them. It’s not your typical cocktail because, unlike other cocktails that are sweet, sour, refreshing, earthy, or herbal, the Bloody Mary is creamy and savory. The Bloody Mary has a creamy full body mouthfeel; it’s salty and sweet with bright red tomato and umami flavors. Understandably, some people find this an off-putting taste for a cocktail since it’s so different. Personally, I am put off when the tomato flavor is too strong, but I love this cocktail when there is much more Worcestershire and horseradish in the drink. Like buying a jar of spaghetti sauce, just because you don’t like one brand does not mean you dislike spaghetti entirely. Maybe the issue isn’t the flavors of the drink but the proportions and balance of those flavors. If made right, this can be a delicious drink. Unless you find a Bloody Mary mixer you like, it’s best to make it from scratch exactly the way you want.
Using Bloody Mary Mix Vs Making It From Scratch.
If you are wondering whether to buy a mix or make it from scratch, it tastes best and is almost the same amount of work. You probably already have most of the ingredients in your pantry and fridge. Also, if you can drive to the store to buy a mixer, you can buy tomato juice and spices. Some mixers taste good, but they cost 2 to 3 times as much as just getting the ingredients and a cheap mixer tastes cheap. In addition, making it yourself provides you with much more control over the taste and final product.
Now, if you’re wondering whether to use V8 or Tomato juice, then that is up to you and a matter of preference. V8 is fine and gives the drink a more herbal tomato soup-like taste, while using regular tomato juice gives it a cleaner, brighter tomato taste. They’re cheap ingredients, so try both and see which you prefer.
Is The Bloody Mary A Hangover Cure?
The Bloody Mary was originally a “hair of the dog” cocktail. The hair of the dog was a 19th-century English expression for saying that one can heal a wound by applying a part of the thing that did the damage to the injury. It came from the idea that if you were bit by a dog, then putting some of the dog’s hair in the bite would help keep the wound from getting infected. In the case of a hangover, a hair of the dog cocktail is one you drink the following day to help ease the pain. As you start to sober up, your brain starts to register what you just did to yourself. This keeps you from fully sobering up. It’s supposed to give you just enough of a buzz to numb you till the brunt of the hangover passes. That being said, the Bloody Mary is a pretty good hangover drink. The Bloody Mary provides electrolytes, vitamins, enough booze to buzz, enough fluid to help hydrate lightly, and spices for pain relief. Salt provides the electrolytes. Tomato juice is high in vitamin C, E, and potassium. Lemon juice is high in vitamin C. Worcestershire sauce has B vitamins, niacin, and vitamin C. Horseradish is also very high in antioxidants. The hot sauce has capsaicin, which is often used as pain relief since capsaicin turns off the neurotransmitters that are currently telling the brain it’s in pain—like Tylenol.
This isn’t a classic cocktail. It’s just a perfect cocktail. The Midori Sour is a pretty awful drink. If you google it, you’ll find many different recipes (also trying to improve it), but the official Beam Suntory recipe is half Midori and half sweet and sour mix. It comes in around 10% ABV and tastes as bad as it sounds. This late 70s drink reeks of sweaty polyester suits at studio 54 looking to fuck.
This improved one keeps the same flavor and intent as the original but isn’t as sweet, and the herbal flavors make it much more palatable.
The screwdriver has two familiar origin stories, and both are probably wrong. One story I have read is that laborers or oil rig workers used to use screwdrivers to stir their morning drink long ago, and another claims US marines invented it in WWII. There is no evidence to back those ideas up, and counter to those ideas is that vodka was rarely used in cocktails before the invention of the Moscow mule in 1941. It’s doubtful that US soldiers were mixing vodka cocktails in the early 40s and even less likely that oil rig workers were mixing with it.
In David Embury’s 1948 book “The Fine Art Of Mixing” he claims the screwdriver is just the orange blossom cocktail with vodka instead of gin. This makes sense because, after the popularity of the Moscow mule, many bartenders tried finding other drinks that could be made with vodka other than the Moscow mule or Bloody Mary. An easy solution was to replace gin with vodka. The iconic vodka martini was invented around this time, and David Embury printed in his vodka section a list of gin cocktails that sometimes substitute vodka. He concluded the vodka section by saying he has no idea why anyone would want to replace gin for vodka as it is a flavorless dull spirit that adds nothing to a drink. I can easily see someone simply replacing the gin for vodka in orange blossom and giving it a funky name like the screwdriver.
If the screwdriver truly is just an orange blossom with vodka, then his recipe is not the common one used today. Unfortunately, he does not provide a direct recipe but says to make an orange blossom with vodka instead of gin. The classic orange blossom recipe is 1:1 orange juice and gin shaken in a shaker and strained into a cocktail glass. Typically it’s measured out to 2 oz gin to 2 oz orange juice. The most common recipe used today is a 1:3 Vodka to orange juice highball cocktail. I have never liked the screwdriver and find it a pointless cocktail. It just tastes like rotten orange juice to me. I find David Embury’s 1940s recipe tastes better than the present-day recipe but is still dull. He even says that the orange blossom, and subsequently the screwdriver, is a stupid drink in his book.
The Correct Ratio For A Screwdriver.
The correct ratio for a screwdriver is 1:3 vodka to orange juice if you are making the standard recipe used today. You can adjust these to taste, but for a standard screwdriver, it should be mixed 1:3. Most screwdrivers are larger than 4 oz, so pour 2 oz of vodka and add 6 oz of orange juice into a highball with ice and stir the drink. This maintains the 1:3 ratio but makes a more reasonably sized screwdriver.
Using David Embury’s classic 1940s screwdriver recipe, the ratio is 1:1. His recipe is prepared entirely different, though. This 1940s recipe is 2 oz of vodka and orange juice shaken in a shaker with ice and strained into a cocktail glass.
The Lemon Drop Martini was invented at Henry Africa’s Bar in the early 1970s. Henry Africa’s Bar first opened in 1969 on Broadway and Polk in San Francisco and two years later moved a block over to Van Ness Avenue and Vallejo. The unusual interior design and styling Norman Hobday used with Henry Africa eventually became known as a Fern Bar. The fern bar style uses a bright open layout. Stained glass windows let in the sun, and Tiffany lamps and chandeliers decorate the space. Lush plants and abundant use of ferns provide vegetation, and patrons sit at their tables on victorian loveseats. Norman Hobday (who, a few years later, legally changed his name to Henry Africa) created the fern bar style with the idea of catering to women.
Most bars, pubs, sports bars, etc., have a male vibe and tend to attract men wanting to go out and have a few drinks with their other male friends. Norman Hobday gave Henry Africa’s Bar a female vibe instead. The decorations, brunch menu, and bright sugary drinks made for a bar women would hopefully choose to meet up at and chat. Hobday even wore his old military uniform around the bar and called himself Corporal Henry Africa. There is a famous photo of him in the 80s wearing a military hat and jacket with little short shorts and sneakers. One of the most popular things to come out of his fern bar was the Lemon Drop Martini. A sweet and tart cocktail that fits the location it was invented. The Lemon Drop is a fantastic cocktail that reminds me of a classic Cuban daiquiri, more sweet than sour but very good.
Using Cranberry juice instead of coca-cola completely changes this cocktail. The flavor is bright and fruity, giving it an almost refreshing taste. It’s hard to say 4.5 oz of alcohol in one drink is refreshing, but cranberry juice softens it. The Long Beach Iced Tea recipe is exactly like the traditional Long Island Iced Tea except for the cranberry juice. The recipe I have provided uses Robert “Rosebud” Butt’s original Long Island recipe but substitutes the Coke for cranberry juice.
The History Of The Long Island Iced Tea
The Long Beach Iced Tea was invented by T.G.I. Fridays in 1980 to celebrate the 40th anniversary of its parent company Carlson. T.G.I. Fridays is often mistaken for inventing the Long Island Iced Tea, and while they didn’t, It is still one of the most popular drinks they sell. Although T.G.I. Fridays did create several popular variations. They made four variations: the Sparkling Iced Tea, the Long Beach Iced Tea, the Caribbean Iced Tea, and the Texas Iced Tea. The Sparkling Iced Tea replaced the Coca-Cola with champagne. The Long Beach Iced Tea replaced Coca-Cola with cranberry juice. The Caribbean Iced Tea used blue-orange liqueur instead of clear to give the drink a light green color and left out the Coke. And the Texas Ice Tea added an additional ounce of whiskey.
I understand this is supposed to be a vintage cocktail resource, and while T.G.I. Fridays is not seen as a high-end bar today, it once was. The first T.G.I. Fridays was opened in 1965 by Alan Stillman. Stillman lived on 63rd Street between First and York in New York and, while surrounded by single attractive working women, had a hard time meeting any. Alan liked to go out after work, and believe it or not, many bars in the 1960s still had policies that no women could enter unless they were with a man. Hell, women couldn’t have bank accounts until the 1960s, and it wasn’t the Equal Credit Opportunity Act of 1974 that women could get an account without a father or husband to manage it. But back to cocktails. Obviously, not every bar was like this, and some areas were more progressive than others, but there was still a culture of bars being too rough for single vulnerable women. Some high-end bars excluded single women, fearing their presence would distract business-minded men from making deals. Even though prohibition had helped lessen the stigma of women publicly drinking, it still took activists like Betty Friedan and others to fully break down these barriers. Alan Stillman also helped break down these barriers when he opened T.G.I. Fridays, one of the United States’ first singles bar. The original intent of T.G.I Fridays was to offer a welcoming environment that felt like home where single women and men could meet. Women didn’t need to come with a man to enter. They served high-end drinks and well-made American food. Stillman may have been looking to meet women, but he inadvertently helped bring down some of the social barriers American women faced.
A friend of mine suggested I add this cocktail, and while the stuffy pretentious drinker in me turns up its nose to modern cocktails like this, the laid-back, chill me loves drinks like this. I have no idea who first made this, they are most likely still young and still alive, but I will take a wild guess and say it was first mixed somewhere in LA. The joke is that this funky-colored drink is supposed to look like tap water in Los Angeles. I get that the joke is that the water is gross and funky, but if the tap water there tasted like this, I would move to LA and never look back. No, it’s not vintage, but it’s super good.
Vodka cocktails were almost nonexistent and not popular till the 1940s. Except for the Bloody Mary, I can’t think of a single cocktail that contained vodka before the 1940s. What happened in the 1940s to change that? The Moscow Mule was invented in 1941, and its overnight success suddenly made vodka a popular spirit. Most classic vodka cocktails can be traced back to this period. Since Vodka had no history of being used as an ingredient, bartenders found it easy to replace gin with vodka and give the drink a fun new name. The screwdriver was just an orange blossom with vodka, The vodka Martini was just a martini with vodka, and a drink called the Russian Bear was just an Alexander with vodka instead of gin.
I can’t find a direct link between the present-day white Russian and the Alexander cocktail, but I get the feeling looking at many of these 1940s vodka cocktails and believe that the white Russian is a variation of it. Lucius Beebe’s 1946 book, the “Stork Club Bar Book,” mentions a cocktail invented by actor Nelson Eddy called Alexander the Great. The cocktail contained creme de cacao, coffee liqueur, vodka, and heavy cream. In David Embury’s 1948 book “The Fine Art of Mixing Drinks,” he has two drinks that resemble white and Black Russians. A drink called a Russian that was vodka and creme de cacao, and one was called a Russian bear which was a Russian with heavy cream floating on top. In his liqueurs and cordial descriptions section, David describes creme de cafe as almost interchangeable with creme de cacao and that they are very much the same. I don’t believe this is the first white Russian, but I feel its origins are here.
The Earliest Records Of The White and Black Russian
The first use of the White and Black Russian names I can find from the 1972 Trader Vic’s Bartenders guide. This is the first reference I can find of those drinks using the recipes we are familiar with today. Trader Vic’s original 1947 bartender’s guide mirrors the recipes in the Beebe and Embury books. I could also not locate the white or Black Russians in any other cocktail books from the 1950s or 60s. So sometime between the 1940s and 1972, the white and Black Russians we know today were invented. On the cocktails Trader Vic invented, he placed a large “TV” by the recipe, and neither the White or Black Russians have those, so Trader Vic must not have created them, but he was the first to record them.
Of course, what made the White Russian iconic was the 1998 Coen Brothers film “The Big Lebowski.” Hilariously thought throughout the movie, the dude, Jeff Lebowski, keeps drinking White Russians even in the face of danger and puts himself in harm’s way to protect his drink at one point. The dude’s love for this drink drove the White Russian to fame and turned it into a cocktail that was suddenly cool to order. Before the Big Lebowski, though, I don’t believe the White Russian was a cool drink. Everything about the dude is a mess. He doesn’t pay his bills; he smokes weed all day, his car is a clunker, and he has trouble forming complete sentences or relating to the people around him. The writers probably viewed the White Russian as a crummy weird cocktail made by a tiki chain during the 1970s. It’s not like he tries to make the drink well, either. In one scene, he uses powdered creamer and mixes it with his finger. Little did they know they would turn it into an icon.
Invented in 1941 at the Cock’n Bull pub in Los Angeles, this drink single-handedly saved vodka sales. The story goes that three down and out-of-luck individuals, Sophie Berezinski, John Martin, and Jack Morgan, came together and created this drink.
Sophie Berezinski owned a bunch of copper mugs no one wanted, John Martin was a distributor for Schmirnoff, a flavorless spirit no one wished to, and Jack Morgan was the Cock’n Bull bar owner with a ginger beer no one wanted. They combined their unwanted products, and the rest is history.