Anyone who's been around for more than a season — anyone who's old enough to drink legally in these United States, let's say — probably remembers a time, historically or lived, in which certain drinks that we no longer drink were popular. There was the heyday of the Cosmo. Then, perhaps, the mojito, the caipirinha, the revival of gin, the flavored whiskey (or the pure stuff in protest), the simple glass of chilled rosé. Back in the old days, I once had a boyfriend who drank white Russians, over and over again. Before that, Don Draper would have enjoyed his rye whiskey, which means half a century later we were enjoying our rye whiskey, too. Drinks are not immune to their trends, and these things go in cycles, after all. Most recently is the trend of "pretentious 'mixologists' pushing Old-Fashioneds and Manhattans" as Claudine Ko writes in the New York Post. Our adherence to the particular trends of drink can get a little bit old, but usually when it does, some cocktail connoisseur mixes it up and delivers something fresh yet again. The latest trend may surprise you. It is a throwback.
"It’s time for some summer fun, and a new class of chill bartenders are putting a fresh take on fruity, dated, decidedly uncool cocktails — think Carrie Bradshaw’s Cosmo and tiki-bar piña coladas — with fresher, more sophisticated ingredients and a skilled hand," writes Ko. Yes, that means you're sort of allowed to order a white Russian, I think. If you must. Or my old discoteca staple, the pineapple and Malibu, a little bit suntan lotion, a little bit Vitamin C. But, explains Ko, "the new versions are far better than the rocket fuel that got you through college or that all-inclusive tropical vacation." The key to the throwback cocktail is the spirit, not the letter. So there's the "new white Russian" with cream "fluffed up and lightly layered over the top"; the "new Cosmopolitan" ($21 at Daniel) with "St. Germain elderflower liqueur" and an orchid in the middle of a cube of ice; the "new Harvey Wallbanger" ("perfect for a boozy brunch"); the "new sea breeze" mixed in the 1920s style with gin, grenadine, and grapefruit juice; and the "new piña colada" with absinthe, "an approachable beverage for those who are new to the harder stuff." It's a gateway drink.
If you don't believe everything you read you might suspect that these cocktails aren't really throwbacks at all, but instead are simply differently pretentious versions of the same old drinks. Wait, but maybe that does make them throwbacks! Well, whatever you like to drink, the options are aplenty. To the dive bar?
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.