Rachael is a researcher and former cocktail waitress. She enjoys learning about history and sharing this knowledge with others.
Classic (and Classy) Gin Cocktails
Drink gin in style with a classic cocktail. Whether it's a black-tie affair or a blue-collar lunch, everyone appreciates these traditional drinks. Let's take a look at five recipes that will add a touch of class to any occasion.
In 1919, at Bar Casoni (now Giacosa Café) in Florence, Italy, Count Camillo Negroni asked for dry gin instead of soda water in his Americano cocktail. After mixing the drink, bartender Fosco Scarselli placed an orange peel garnish on the rim of the glass to signify its uniqueness—and the Negroni was born. The drink became a neighborhood favorite and quickly gained worldwide popularity.
The bitter yet perfectly balanced Negroni cocktail is created by combining equal parts gin, sweet vermouth and Campari. These three flavors unite resulting in a unique, sophisticated taste. Salty hors d'oeuvres are a necessary complement to balance the celebratory pucker of this bold cocktail.
Glassware: Chilled old fashioned glass
- 1 1/2 ounces Campari
- 1 1/2 ounces sweet vermouth
- 1 1/2 ounces gin
- 1 orange peel
- Ice cubes
- Pour all liquids into an ice-filled cocktail mixing glass. Stir for 40 seconds.
- Add ice to an old fashioned glass.
- Pour stirred cocktail into the old fashioned glass.
- Garnish with an orange peel.
Negroni: "The bitters are excellent for your liver, the gin is bad for you. They balance each other."
— Orson Welles
2. French 75
The French 75 debuted in 1915 at the New York Bar in Paris. It was named after patrons said the drink kicked like a French 75 shotgun.
This full bodied drink is made by combining gin, lemon juice, and simple syrup in an ice filled cocktail shaker, then straining it into a champagne or Collins glass. The glass is then topped off with champagne and garnished with a single lemon wedge or orange peel twist.
This classic cocktail is bubbly, crisp and clean, with a refreshing flavor. It is perfect for a hot summer day, or as a celebratory drink in place of simple champagne.
Glassware: Chilled Champagne flute
- 1 1/2 ounces gin
- 1/2 ounce simple syrup
- 2 ounces dry sparkling wine (such as brut champagne), chilled
- 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
- 1 lemon
- 1 cup ice cubes
- Pour gin, simple syrup, and lemon juice into a cocktail shaker.
- Add ice to the shaker, and shake vigorously for 20 seconds.
- Strain into the chilled champagne flute, and top with sparkling wine.
- Using zester or paring knife, slice peel from lemon in a long, thin spiral.
- Curl lemon peel around a finger to create twist at least 6 inches long.
- Garnish with lemon peel twist, and serve immediately.
The French 75... is a concoction every bartender must know and every drinker cherish.
— Author David Wondrich, Barstool Historian
The Martinez became prominent at approximately the same time period as the Martini, and is widely thought (although unfounded) to be the Martini's father. Both cocktails emerged in the late 1860s to early 1870s, with many claims to their origins throughout the years. A probable theory is that the Martinez originated in Martinez, California where it changed hands of numerous bartenders until it reached its present day form.
This classy gin drink has a complicated yet well balanced taste, and is likely to have included sweet vermouth, Old Tom Gin, and maraschino in its original form.
Glassware: Chilled cocktail glass
- 2 ounces Old Tom style gin
- 1 ounce sweet vermouth
- 1/2 teaspoon maraschino liqueur
- 2 dashes bitters (preferably Bitter Truth Aromatic Blend)
- 2 cups ice
- lemon peel
- Combine gin, sweet vermouth, maraschino liqueur, bitters, and ice in a large glass.
- Stir for 15 seconds.
- Strain into a chilled cocktail glass.
- Garnish with twisted lemon peel strip.
Of all the cocktails proudly wearing the ‘classic’ badge, the Martinez is perhaps the most deserving.
— Gin Foundry
4. Gin Martini
The gin martini is noted on record prior to the mid-18th century; however, its actual origin has not been classified. This drink is the embodiment of a classic cocktail that defines classy.
Throughout the years, the gin martini has been a trademark drink for famous names such as James Bond, Clark Gable, and Ernest Hemingway. It consists of dry gin and dry vermouth that is smoothly poured into a martini glass. Large pitted green olives garnish this drink, and completes the classic look.
Glassware: chilled martini glass
- 3 ounces gin
- 1/2 ounce dry vermouth
- Large pitted green olives
- Pour dry vermouth into a chilled martini glass, and swirl to coat the inside of glass. Dispose of excess vermouth.
- Pour gin into a shaker filled with ice.
- Stir, then strain into the chilled martini glass.
- Garnish with large pitted green olives.
A man must defend his home, his wife, his children, and his martini.
— Jackie Gleason
5. Ramos Gin Fizz
Henry C. Ramos created his version of the gin fizz in 1888 at his New Orleans saloon, The Imperial Cabinet.
The luscious Ramos Gin Fizz has a magical floral flavor, and unique, airy consistency. It has a long list of ingredients that includes: gin, orange flower water, cold seltzer, fresh lemon juice, fresh lime juice, heavy cream, superfine sugar, and an egg white.
Give your friends a gift by mastering the mix of this tricky drink.
Glassware: highball glass
- 2 cups cracked ice
- 1 cup water
- 1/2 ounce fresh lime juice
- 1/2 ounce fresh lemon juice
- 1 ounce simple syrup
- 1 tablespoon superfine sugar
- 2 ounces gin
- 1 ounce heavy cream
- 2 ounces cold soda water
- 1/4 teaspoon orange flower water
- Combine lime juice, lemon juice, and sugar in a cocktail shaker, and stir to dissolve.
- Add gin, heavy cream, orange flower water, and egg white.
- Cover and shake vigorously for 10 seconds.
- Add cracked ice, and shake vigorously for about 45 more seconds.
- Strain into a highball glass, and top off with seltzer.
Video: Ramos Gin Fizz
The Finishing Touch
For the perfect finishing touch, serve classic gin drinks with themed napkins and garnishes on cocktail swords. Add salty hors d'oeuvres to the side for a perfect companion. Finger sandwiches and warm salted nuts pair perfectly with these classic cocktails.
Best Classic Gin Cocktail
© 2013 Rachael Ryhn
Rachael Ryhn (author) from Forest Lake, MN on October 18, 2015:
You are most welcome Boom Zamora. Thank you!
Rachael Ryhn (author) from Forest Lake, MN on October 13, 2014:
Thank you so much Elsie!
Elsie Hagley from New Zealand on October 12, 2014:
You sure know your cocktail drinks. I'm not a gin drinker at all, but I do like a brandy and ginger ale occasionally.
Rachael Ryhn (author) from Forest Lake, MN on July 31, 2014:
Wow! Thank you - much appreciated.
Alfred Amuno from Kampala on July 31, 2014:
Rachael Ryhn (author) from Forest Lake, MN on July 30, 2014:
Thank you so much!
Anna Haun from USA on July 30, 2014:
Very nice article, enjoyed reading it.