Image credit: CC BY-SA 2.0 (Johnny Silvercloud, 2014)
On the rocks, neat, straight up, stirred, served with a kick, or just dirty – the methods of serving cocktails are as versatile as their ingredients and preparation, and we agree that simply ordering one is a thrilling indulgence. Having infused themselves in the popular, historical and literary culture, inspiring everyone from socialites to artists, cocktails have become truly iconic in the world of alcoholic beverages.
From Cuba to Singapore, Quotient pays tribute to the home of five classic cocktails and serves up the fascinating stories behind them.
The Bellini, Italy
Mention a Bellini to any cocktail aficionado and you will instantly invoke nostalgia of a bygone era – the cocktail really seems to have an undertone of respect among cocktails bartenders and drinkers around the world. While Italy already had a long tradition of marinating fresh peaches in wine long before Giuseppi Cipriani invented the Bellini in 1948 at Harry’s Bar in Venice, the creation of this delicious cocktail literally took the concept to new heights when he mixed white peach puree with Prosecco, Italy’s version of champagne.
The result was a drink which was simple and delicious and instantly became a classic at the renowned Venetian bar — also an all-time favourite haunt of writer Ernest Hemingway. Thanks to its unique colour, which reminded the creator of the colour of a sunset in a painting by 15th-century Venetian artist Giovanni Bellini, Cipriani named the drink “The Bellini”. The rest is history, and the drink is still popular today, with numerous variations all around the world.
The Singapore Sling
This year, the legendary cocktail celebrates 101 years from its creation in 1915 at the Raffles Hotel in Singapore by bartender Ngiam Tong Boon and there’s no better time to savour one. Made from a mixture of gin, cherry brandy and Benedictine, with a dash of bitters and Cointreau and finished off with pineapple and lime juice and grenadine, the refreshing cocktail is truly a hit on the cocktail scene around the world.
Mai Tai, USA
This cocktail may sound tropical but it actually is an all-American product as it was invented at Trader Vic’s in Emeryville, San Francisco, California. The inventor, Victor Bergeron, supposedly created this refreshing drink for two guests who had just returned from Tahiti and were craving for a taste of the tropics. After mixing rum with just the right combination of fruit juices and orange-flavored liqueur, Bergeron handed it to the guests, who tasted the drink and declared it was “Maita’i” — the Tahitian word for good — thus the cocktail was born.
Some may call it a sailor’s drink but the classic cocktail was first mixed in the Cuban capital Havana, but by whom and where exactly is still unknown. Despite its hazy beginnings, the cocktail still has a cult status in the country and has become popular all over the world.
Ernest Hemingway surely was a big fan of the Mojito — he drank 16 of them in one sitting at the historic cocktail bar, El Floridita. Traditionally made using white rum, sugar cane juice, lime juice, carbonated water and mint muddled together, many connoisseurs believe the Mojito to be the world’s first cocktail.
Kir Royale, France
Ladylike, elegant and sophisticated, Kir Royale has the power to transport you to the French land in an instant. Originated from Burgundy, France in the 1940s, the cocktail was named after Félix Kir, who was a hero in the French Resistance during the Second World War, and the Mayor of Dijon from 1945 to 1968. Spritzy and invigorating, the cocktail made of crème de cassis (blackcurrant liqueur) and Champagne is subtly sweet and fruity-fresh, and simply reminds one of summer days!