Four Retro Cocktails for a Swanky Holiday Party

‘Tis the season for cocktail parties! What better way to celebrate the holidays than with nostalgic, retro libations? These classic (and classy) drinks are guaranteed to impress your friends and take your party to the next level.




The French 75 was created in 1915 in Paris and named after a French artillery gun because of its potent kick. The drink was later popularized in America at the Stork Club in New York. The French 75 is refreshingly lemony and delightfully easy to drink any time of the day.

FYI, Tavern64 in the Reston Town Center makes an excellent version.

1 oz. gin
½ oz. simple syrup
½ oz. fresh squeezed lemon juice
Brut Champagne or a dry sparkling white wine (we used Virginia’s own Thibaut-Janisson Blanc de Chardonnay)
Lemon twist, to garnish

Combine gin, simple syrup, and lemon juice in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake until well chilled and strain into a glass. Top with Champagne and garnish with a lemon twist to serve.


When researching this cocktail, I came across this description on Chow. It could not be said more perfectly:

No one is undecided about a Negroni. This Italian big brother to the Americano and distant cousin to the Martini is so bitter that its dissenters swear it should be stored in the medicine chest. Its fanatical adherents bask in its ruddy glow and tongue-tingling taste. Some contend that this classic cocktail dates back to Florence in the 1920s, when the flamboyant Count Camillo Negroni asked for a splash of gin added to his Americano. Others say that the drink, mixed with vodka or gin, has been around as long as the Americano. The Campari company, itself unsure of the origin, eventually decided that the drink should be called a Negroni to avoid confusion with all the other Campari cocktails.

1 ounce gin (such as DCs own Green Hat Gin)
1 ounce sweet vermouth
1 ounce Campari
Slice of orange

Pour gin, vermouth, and Campari into a chilled Old Fashioned glass over ice; garnish with a slice of orange.

For a longer drink, serve a Negroni with a splash of soda. The cocktail may also be shaken and poured straight up in a cocktail glass.


The Old Fashioned’s history is in much debate. It seems there is no one way to mix this drink. It appears to date back to 1806 but the proportions were different, thus sparking a century long debate about how to actually mix this drink. Inspired by this, writer Robert Simonson has penned an entire book on this one drink alone, The Old-Fashioned: The Story of the World’s First Classic Cocktail. It features over 40 recipes from different regions of America and eras.

The Old Fashioned is a manly, genteel, yet sweet cocktail. This is Don Draper’s drink of choice.

1 teaspoon superfine sugar
2 dashes angostura bitters
1 barspoon (1 teaspoon) club soda or water
2 ounces rye or bourbon whiskey (we used Small Batch Bulleit Rye)
Ice, preferably a single large cube
Orange twist, for garnish

Measure the sugar into a chilled Old Fashioned glass and add the bitters. Splash in the club soda or water. Add the whiskey and ice. With a bar spoon, stir until chilled, about 30 seconds.


This Cuban rum drink was introduced to the United States in 1909 at the Army Navy Club in DC. It became popular in the 1940s because of Roosevelt’s Good Neighbor Policy (which opened up trade with Latin America, Cuba and the Caribbean). This made rum easy to come by when whiskey and other liquors were being rationed.

The original Daiquiri is a far cry from the machine-produced frozen daiquiri at all-you-can-drink night at the local chain cocktail lounge. It’s sweet, sour and looks fabulous in a vintage coupe.

1 1/2 ounces light rum
1 ounce fresh lime juice
1 teaspoon simple syrup or superfine sugar

Shake all ingredients well with ice, then strain into a chilled cocktail glass.



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