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Travel & Nightlife

The Bar, Examined


The Drink

Hotel bars have long been laboratories for the most enduring cocktails, and an around-the-world trip provides drink recipes for every hour and occasion. Just make sure your glassware is up to snuff (we've poured our liquor in this fall's finest).

1. Singapore Sling
(Rock-cut highball by Tiffany & Co., $30)
Raffles Hotel, Singapore
This drink was created at the Raffles in the early 1900s for British ladies looking to discreetly sip on something stronger than lemonade. Today the hotel slings about 2,000 of them daily.

1 ounce gin, 1/2 ounce Heering cherry liqueur, 4 ounces pineapple juice, 1/2 ounce lime juice, 1/4 ounce Cointreau, 1/4 ounce Dom Benedictine, 1/3 ounce grenadine, dash Angostura bitters

Shake and garnish with pineapple and cherry. Serve in a highball.

2. Sazerac
(Birch rocks glass by Roost, $7.50)
The Sazerac Bar, Roosevelt Hotel, New Orleans
The Sazerac's history is as convoluted as politics in the Big Easy, but the Sazerac is largely acknowledged as the world's very first cocktail, created around 1850.

1 sugar cube, 1' ounces rye whiskey, 1/4 ounces absinthe (or Herbsaint), 3 dashes Peychaud's bitters, lemon peel for garnish

Pack an old-fashioned glass with ice. In a second old-fashioned glass, place the sugar cube and add the bitters, then crush the sugar cube. Add the rye whiskey to the second glass. Empty the ice from the first glass and coat the glass with the Herbsaint. Empty the whiskey/bitters/sugar mixture from the second glass into the first glass and garnish with lemon peel.

3. Corpse Reviver No. 2
(Mami martini glass by
Alessi, $125 for six)
Bar Hemingway, Ritz Hotel, Paris
In a city not known for cocktail culture, leave it to Ernest Hemingway to inspire and become chief patron of what is now considered Europe's -- if not the world's -- premier mixology mecca. Save 30 Euros and make this hangover cure at home.

3/4 ounce gin, 3/4 ounce Cointreau, 3/4 ounce Lillet Blanc, 3/4 ounce fresh lemon juice, 2 dashes absinthe, Herbsaint, or other pastis

Combine in a shaker with cracked ice, shake, and strain. Garnish with a stemless cherry.

4. Bellini
(Namb' Contour flute, $75 for two)
Harry's Bar, Cipriani, Venice
More than a million Bellinis have been served at Venice's Harry's Bar since it opened its dock for business in 1931. The drink's rosy hue inspired creator Giuseppe Cipriani to name it after Renaissance painter Giovanni Bellini.

1/3 part fresh white peach juice, 2/3 part Prosecco (sparkling wine)

To make peach juice, peel and slice 2' pounds of white peaches. Blend the peaches with crushed ice and two teaspoons of sugar. Add 2 1/4 cups of water and 3/4 cup fresh lemon juice. If necessary, add a little raspberry or cherry juice to make it distinctly pink.

5. Original Red Snapper
(Double old-fashioned glass by Match, $62)
King Cole Bar, the St. Regis, New York City
You probably know her better by her drag name, Bloody Mary, but when this cocktail was created 75 years ago at the King Cole, it was given a more demure moniker.

1 ounce vodka, 2 ounces tomato juice, 1 dash lemon juice, 2 dashes salt, 2 dashes black pepper, 2 dashes cayenne pepper, 3 dashes Worcestershire sauce

6. The Martinez
(Martini pitcher by Match, $193, and spoon, $66)
The Dorchester, London
Using their own bespoke gin and bitters based on 17th-century recipes, the Dorchester's signature drink is considered the original martini, dating as far back as 1862.

1 ounce Hayman's Old Tom Gin, 1 1/2 ounces Punt e Mes, 1/2 ounce Maraschino Luxardo, dash Dorchester bitters

Shake and strain into a martini glass. Squeeze an orange twist and drop in.

Take It From the Pros

International mixologists give it to us straight up.

Kirk Estopinal, Cure, New Orleans
Secret weapon: Marie Brizard Apry apricot brandy
Drink on the brink: The Blue Train (equal parts gin, cr'me de violette, lemon, and Cointreau)
Should be extinct: The dirty martini
Secret to a good martini: Fresh vermouth
Pet peeve: Someone who says 'I know the owner' and expects a comp.
Worst pickup line: 'Do you like cats? Wanna come over and pet mine?'

Brian McGrory, Double Crown, New York City
Secret weapon: Cape gooseberries. Everyone loves them'they're sweet, sour, and have a beautiful orange color.
Drink on the brink: Pisco is the new vodka.
Should be extinct: The Manhattan
Secrets to a good martini: The chilled martini glass, and using large cubed ice to shake. Shake really hard for about 20 seconds to super chill. And always use nice Italian olives.
Pet peeve: Asking for Malibu, Midori, or a Sex on the Beach
Worst pickup line: A $100 bill with a phone number on it

Marco Dionysos, Clock Bar, Westin St. Francis, San Francisco
Secret weapon: Champagne can balance a cocktail that is too sweet, while adding a touch of elegance.
Drink on the brink: The caipirinha. Cacha'a is coming on strong in the U.S., with plenty of premium brands now available. The ingredients are common, and there are endless possibilities for variation.
Should be extinct: The apple martini. Every trend from locavore to farm-to-table is about fresh, and nothing about the 'appletini' is fresh at all.
Secrets to a good martini: Stir in a chilled metal shaker and use vermouth, unless you use vodka. Keep the olives cold, so the drink you took the trouble to get icy isn't shocked back to room temperature by the garnish.
Pet peeve: When a customer asks for a drink recommendation, doesn't like it, wants to 'trade it in,' and still wants another recommendation.
Worst pickup line: 'Got a little Irish in you? Want some?'

Pete Jeary, Hawksmoor, London
Secret weapon: Noilly Prat Ambre. Awesome complexity, long dry finish, superb over ice, amazing in cocktails.
Drink on the brink: The Artist's Special. It's actually a revival: scotch, sherry, lemon, raspberry syrup.
Should be extinct: Surely the world must be sick of Sex and the City by now? The original 1933 Cosmopolitan recipe (using gin, not vodka) is much better.
Secret to a good martini: Patience, care, love. And for me, Beefeater 24.
Pet peeve: Bad manners
Worst pickup line: I did have a very cute Hollywood starlet tell me I had nice hands and that I probably knew what to do with them. Pretty corny, but that said, it worked.

Massimo 'Max' Greco, Bayswater Brasserie, Sydney
Secret weapon:
Bitters. When making a drink for a knowledgeable drinker, a selectively placed drop or two can balance the tartness of citrus and the sweetness of sugar, soften heavy spirits, and create magic!
Drink on the brink:Between the Sheets -- a great mix of cognac and rum (try agricole) finished with orange and citrus notes
Should be extinct:Vodka-based cocktails are on the way out.
Secret to a good martini:Always ask customers how they like it. Then it's in their hands.
Pet peeve:Mentioning the spirit ingredient last when ordering a drink.
Worst pickup line:
'What kind of berries do you like?' ('Why?') 'So I know what to put on your pancakes tomorrow morning.'

Mixing Essentials

For bar basics, stick with classics. but when it comes to accessories, by all means, experiment. here's a selection of our favorites.

Drink out of both sides of a universal tasting glass (Alberto's Vineyard for Alessi, $96 for two) -- one for whites and one for reds -- unless beer's your thing. Push down gently on the Pop-Up bottle cap opener (Alessi, $50) and open your Peroni with equal ease and style. Scotch on the rocks more your speed? Plan ahead by throwing some whisky stones (Teroforma, $20) in the freezer first and avoid diluting your single malt with melting ice. Or please a crowd by mixing some of your own signature cocktails. Go old-school on the veranda with the Alexis cocktail shaker (William Yeoward for the Conran Shop, $775), or take a decidedly more modern route with the Michael Graves shaker (Target, $20).

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