It’s Friday morning, and as I sit at my desk I cannot help but daydream about twilight, heels clinking on pavement, a softly lit lounge, and a sophisticated cocktail at my lips.  I live in Denver, a city I have come to realize is a mecca for happy-hour lovers.  In five months of living here I’ve hardly begun to scratch the surface.  Happy hour is a nice thing for the middle to late twenty something crowd because you can escape the disgrace of binge drinking into the wee morning hours, the blackout time travel associated with college drinking debauchery, and appalling liver abuse and dramatic drunken fights with your boyfriend…am I speaking in generalities or specifics?…and begin to enjoy your alcoholic beverages with a touch of class.  Happy hour has you in and out of the bar by 9 PM, is the perfect precursor to whatever festivities your night has in store, and gets you some pretty awesome drinks (say, a dirty martini) for a fraction of the cost you would normally spend. 

A big part of happy hour, for me, or going out in general is to make something special of it, almost to don a disguise and be a socialite in my own mind for a couple hours or so, talk pleasantly and live in the moment.  I’m something of a fantastical sort of person, always with a flair for the dramatic (in what I hope is a good way), and one thing I really like to do is dress in a revival of an old-fashined, retro style and try slip back into that time and frame of mind.  I like to imagine what it might be like to be a flapper woman in the Roaring 20s and sip cocktails at a speakeasy in New York City on Saturday night, or have big hair and cat eye eyeliner, a long sleek dress, and be stick thin in the sixties sipping a martini at an exclusive party.  Going out is part masquerade, perhaps the best part.

A long introduction perhaps to what is a simple list.  I have compiled a list of the “it” cocktail by decade.  Apparently these were the drinks that were all the rage for men and women about society, lighting up the night…so next time you’re out for happy hour with friends and feeling very pretty and a bit adventurous, and that moment comes around when the bartender asks you for your drink order and you have your go-to list of 3 cocktails because you can’t think of that drink you’ve always wanted to try on the spot…some ideas…and for added fun, you can wear an outfit to fit the decade that night and really go back in time…(am I the only person who does that?)

*Disclaimer…I found these on a web site…you may or may not agree. 

1900-1910: The Old-Fashioned…you will be asked if you want it sweet or sour.  I never knew what to say here, but it’s going to be sweet no matter how you take it, so I generally go sour.  Whiskey is the default liquor used, but Brandy Old-Fashioneds are common and quite good.  It also contains sugar, bitters, and muddled up fruit (usually orange and cherry).  A sweet Old-fashioned will not have the bitters, I think.  The best Old-Fashioned I’ve ever had was at the Old-Fashioned bar in Madison, WI fittingly enough…

1910-1920: The Singapore Sling.  For some reason I see this one a lot in Tiki Bars, the best I have ever been to being The Yacht Club on College Ave. in Asheville, NC.  They make an awesome SS, and it takes something like liquified Sweet Tarts.  A true SS will have a foamy top.  Apparently, today’s recipe is somewhat changed from the original concoction of gin, Cherry Heering (a liquer flavored with cherries), Benedictine (an herbal liquer containing 27 plants and spices…oh my!), and fresh pineapple juice. 

1920-1930: The Bloody Mary, one we all know and love.  It brings to mind Bloody Mary of England (Queen Mary I), first daughter of King Henry VIII, who, in en effort to revert England back to Catholocism following its transformation to The Church of England (Protestanism) under her father, beheaded a great number of people and it is said these heads adorned the London Bridge as a deterrant to heretics.  Who knows…but, in any event, a great drink now bears the same name.  A “Bloody” is a popular drink to have for brunch and is sometimes served with a beer chaser, which I think is cool, I like a drink that has a ritual (see earlier post on Absinthe).  A Bloody contains vodka, tomato juice, Worchestire sauce, tabasco, beef boullion, horseradish, celery, olive, lemon juice, and spices…sometimes a pickle too.  I find there’s a lot of variation between bloody marys.  In any event, a good, classic standby.

1930-1940: The Manhattan, or as my mom’s boyfriend Jim likes to say, “Manno” as in, “I’ve had four Mannos already!”  I love Jim, he’s awesome.  His favorite drink (as it is) contains whiskey, sweet vermouth (a fortified wine flavored with aromatic herbs…such as cardamom, cinnamon, chamomile, and marjoram and spices), and bitters.  It’s all alcohol, and I’ve never actually had one to date.  It is often stirred with ice and then strained into a cocktail glass and garnished with a cherry.

1940-1950: Mai Tai.  I remember my dad getting these a lot on our vacation to Florida in 2000.  It is a popular “island” sort of drink and it conjures up images of a beachside bar and palm trees.  It contains rum, lime juice, and Curacao liquer (made with the dried peel of the citrus laraha fruit found on the Carribean island of Curacao).  Maitai is the Tahitian word for “good”.  Again…can’t say I’ve had the pleasure yet…but if my plans for a February vacation to island of Curacao (like the liquer) pan out…I’ll have to try one or ten.  Actually, that gives me a good idea for a post entirely devoted to Curacao…night life, history, its awesome uniqueness among breathtaking Carribean island!  Stay tuned…

1950-1960: The Martini…specifically, I think, the Vodka Martini.  I think of this as being a very demure drink, and I love that.  A dear friend of mine from Manhattan loves nothing more than a good dirty martini and when I asked him how to order one once he said, “Tell them to make it dirty as hell” for I wanted extra olive juice.  🙂  Ah, Zaher…at any rate, the drink also makes me think of James Bond (shaken, not stirred), NYC, and the glamour and fashion of the 60s.  A vodka martini contains vodka, dry vermouth, and ice…if it’s a dirty martini add olive juice.

1960-1970: Whiskey Sour. Bourbon whiskey, lemon juice, and sugar.  Adding a dash of egg white makes it a Boston Sour.  It is shaken and served either straight or over ice.  Garnish with cherry and orange slice.  I picture drinking this drink wearing brown bell bottom pants.  I know a lot of guys who order this drink or a whiskey and soda. 

1970-1980:  Jees, at this point in the post I’m beginning to feel like a real lush.  Long-Island Iced Tea.  KABOOM!  This drink always harkens me back to my 21st birthday and not knowing anything about ordering drinks at a bar.  I always order Long Islands because it was the only name of a drink I knew, and I didn’t like beer yet.  Needless to say, it knocked me on my ass.  Although it could also have been the Three Wiseman at Barley and Hop’s or the half dozen other drinks I guzzled that night to the result of wild, crazy, completely shitfaced Abby Madness.  Ugh…I feel sick just thinking about it.  This drink is a highball (family of drinks composed of an alcoholic base spirit and a non-alcoholic mixer) made with vodka, rum, tequila, and gin.  A popular version also adds cola, triple sec, and sours.  There are many variations to this drink including the Jersey Tea (which includes Jaeger…of course it does…), Tokyo Tea (subsitute Midori liquer for the tequila), or Pittsburgh Tea (substitute Wild Turkey for the tequila) to name a few. 

1980-1990:  Sex on the Beach.  Oh, the 80s.  Of course this drink was popular in the 80s.  The 80s seems to me loud and fast and cheesy.  I love it though.  Apparently there are several variations on this drink, one being cranberry juice, orange juice, vodka, and peach schnapps.  Not much to say about this except it reminds me of a workout class I used to go to in high school called Fit For Life.  On Friday, the instructor (Jared, bald guy) always used a song called Sex on the Beach for the cooldown portion.  In struck me as silly at the time.  “Sex on the beach…come on, use your body, sex on the beach…”

1990-2000: Cosmopolitan.  This makes me think of Sex and the City, even though I don’t watch it regularly.  It makes me think of girls in cocktail dresses and stilletos.  The drink is made with vodka, triple sec, lime juice, and cranberry juice.  Really all I have to say about that…

Now, I actually feel less into the idea of a cocktail.  I feel drunk without the buzz.  Just the lingering taste of too much alcohol and a headache…how did that happen?