Mixologists draw inspiration from many disparate sources when crafting custom cocktails, and one way is to honor the wisdom and memory of those who came before them. The delectable concoction in your glass just might have a story behind it that harkens back decades — even centuries.
Here are seven such august intergenerational drinks that use flavors and techniques that have been passed down from one age to the next. For those interested in ordering up a taste of bygone times, whether shaken or stirred, these drinks that will take you back with every sip.
“The Persian Rose” by Zad Farahvash
In Iran, food tends to have very strong flavors, whether sour, bitter, or sweet. Zad Farahvash called on his Iranian heritage to create The Persian Rose, which combines deep notes of pomegranate, honey, and rosewater with the sharp flavor of saffron.
“Saffron is a staple of Persian cooking, and it’s also one of the main ingredients in Fernet-Branca,” Farahvash says. Growing up, his home always smelled of saffron and turmeric from his parents’ cooking, and he has continued the tradition with his own burgeoning food business, a vegan pop-up called Café Zarathustra. “I used to work in bars and then moved on to a career as a music booker,” he says. “When I started taking my mom’s Persian recipes and turning them vegan, it brought me back to my roots and back to the world of food and drinks.”
“The Tornado Warning” by Lindsay Arden
A new twist on the Manhattan born of free-spirited necessity, Lindsay Arden’s Tornado Warning is just the drink you want the next time you’re partying in a repurposed factory turned art loft. “The Manhattan itself has a very old heritage,” Arden says, “and this drink is a product of the historic places I serve it in.”
Made from Carpano vermouth, Templeton Rye whiskey, bitters, lemon, and soda water, Tornado Warning is Arden’s go-to cocktail for the many semi-secret parties where she tends makeshift bars. “It’s essentially a Manhattan, but lighter,” she says. “The soda and lemon in it really lighten things up.”
“In a World” by Alex Cooper
It’s a mentality that has sustained civilizations throughout the ages: Make the most of whatever you can find. Inspired by historical invention through necessity, Alex Cooper has thrown just about everything into his Fernet-Branca-tinged Manhattan/Old Fashioned redux, which sports the dramatic-movie-trailer-voice title In a World.
Rye whiskey, fresh lemon juice, Fernet-Branca, ginger liqueur, vanilla syrup, yellow chartreuse, black walnut bitters, and hibiscus jasmine syrup all get shaken over ice and served in a lowball glass garnished with an orange peel. The result tastes — well, like everything good tossed together. “As I was making it, I just wanted something worldly,” Cooper says, “with flavors you wouldn’t necessarily think of going together. It makes me think of how, generationally, people have often used specific ingredients that they wouldn’t usually call on.”