Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Commentary: One before Dinner: The Pre-Dinner Cocktail

Newspaper article THE JOURNAL RECORD

Commentary: One before Dinner: The Pre-Dinner Cocktail

Article excerpt

The pre-dinner cocktail.

It's a category unto itself, one of just four recognized by the International Bartenders Association. But it's the class of the four, the list that includes the old standards: The Martini, Manhattan, Whiskey Sour, Rob Roy, Gibson, Americano and, fittingly, the Old Fashioned.

It's the Rat Pack of libations, many invented during Prohibition (to mask the bad taste of bootlegged liquor) and perfected in the cocktail's golden age, the 1930s. They're the drinks your parents drank and many are making a comeback along with the Martini.

With visions of Cab Calloway on the bandstand, Dorothy Parker in a booth and Bogie at the bar in a white dinner jacket, here's a look at eight classic pre-dinner cocktails. With recipes, of course.


This one's from France, named for a mayor of Dijon in Burgundy, Felix Kir. Kir popularized the concoction while entertaining diplomats and other international guests, but it was an economic development tool. Both the lesser white wine originally used in the drink and the creme de cassis, made from blackcurrants, were local products.

Among the most popular variations is the Kir Royal. To make one, substitute champagne for the white wine.

1 part creme de cassis

9 parts white wine

Pour the creme de cassis in the bottom of a champagne flute. Add the wine.

Whiskey Sour

A member of the sour family of cocktails along with the margarita and daiquiri, a whiskey sour is cool and smooth. Try serving them to your next dinner guests, who have probably never ordered one but will discover a new favorite.

3 parts Bourbon whiskey

2 parts Fresh Lemon Juice

1 part Gomme Syrup

Dash of egg white (optional)

Shake with ice and strain into an old fashioned or cobbler glass. Garnish with an orange slice and maraschino cherry. May also be served on the rocks and is sometimes served in a sugared glass.


This one got its name in the early 1900s when the Italians who invented it noticed that it was hugely popular with visiting Americans. Originally, it was called a Milano-Torino for the homes of its main ingredients. Invented by Gaspare Campari, maker of the vermouth, it was first served at his bar.

1 part Campari

1 part Sweet Red Vermouth

Mix the ingredients in an old fashioned glass filled with ice cubes and add a splash of club soda. Garnish with an orange slice.


Although there are earlier references to the cocktail, it became popular when it was served at a Manhattan Club event in the 1870s (in Manhattan, of course). The party was being thrown for presidential candidate Samuel J. Tilden and was hosted by one Jennie Jerome, who would later become Lady Randolph Churchill, Winston's mother. The common alternative to rye is Canadian whiskey, though it is often ordered with bourbon as the base liquor.

2 parts Rye whiskey

1 part Sweet Red Vermouth

Dash of Angostura bitter

Stir the ingredients with ice and strain into a chilled cocktail (martini) glass. …

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