Bring It Back: Old-Fashioned Cocktails

What’s a better opportunity to bring back old-fashioned cocktails than New Year’s Eve? Here are some great ideas for classic drinks to serve at your New Year’s party or family gathering – including a couple of mocktails for the kiddies. Happy bartending!

Whiskey Sour
This was my mom’s drink of choice growing up, and when I turned twenty-one, it was my first cocktail! Ok, so even though this became a classy drink, it’s origins aren’t so glam. The tradition started when British sailors started adding lime juice to their rum to prevent scurvy. Yikes! Also, since lime juice is perishable, they would add whiskey to preserve it. Whiskey sour, literally. Thankfully, we’ve come a long way since then. Here’s a much more appetizing recipe for your version of this classic drink:


  • 2 oz whiskey
  • 2 tablespoons lemon juice
  • ½-1 teaspoon super fine sugar
  • 3 ice cubes
  • 1 orange or lemon slice or peel
  • Maraschino cherry



Combine all ingredients except the fruit slice or peel and cherry in a cocktail shaker and shake vigorously. Strain into a sour or Delmonico glass and garnish with the fruit and cherry.

French 75

This classy beverage was invented in 1915 at a Parisian bar called, why not, Harry’s New York Bar. It was named after the French 75mm field gun because of the shot in the gut you feel after drinking one. Proceed with caution!


  • 2 oz gin
  • 1 teaspoon superfine sugar
  • ½ oz lemon juice
  • 5 oz Brut champagne
  • 1 lemon peel



In a cocktail shaker, combine the gin, sugar, and lemon juice and shake well with cracked ice. Fill a champagne flute partway with ice and strain the gin mixture into it. Top off with champagne. Garnish with a lemon peel.


Like the French 75, this classic was invented around World War I in Paris. The Ritz Hotel takes credit, but no one’s sure if they really invented it. Anyway, here’s how to make this old-timey favorite:


  • ¾ oz Cointreau
  • ¾ oz lemon juice
  • 1 ½ oz cognac
  • Sugar


Shake well with cracked ice, then strain into a chilled cocktail glass that has had its outside rim rubbed with lemon juice and dipped in sugar.

Tom Collins

6561169947:Yahoo:photoOne of the older drinks on this list, the Tom Collins originated from an 1876 hoax in which people would trick others into thinking someone named “Tom Collins” was talking about them, then repeat supposed awful things this Tom Collins guy had said…it got so out of hand that newspapers at the time even reported on Tom Collins sightings! At least we got a yummy cocktail out of it…this one has lasted through the ages.


  • 2 oz London dry gin
  • 1 teaspoon superfine sugar
  • ½ ounce lemon juice
  • Club soda
  • Maraschino cherry for garnish


Combine ingredients in a Collins glass ¾ full of cracked ice. Stir briefly, top with club soda or seltzer, garnish with maraschino cherry, and serve with stirring rod.


The gimlet is another classic cocktail with less than savory origins. Yep, I’m talking about sailors and scurvy again. But moving on, the gimlet later became popular as a thirst quencher in the tropical British colonies during the early part of the 20th century. The gimlet then took hold in London during the 1920s and 30s. Although it’s traditionally served in a lowball glass, you can also serve it in a martini glass. This drink is also commonly garnished with mint or basil.


  • 2 oz gin (or vodka)
  • ½ ounce fresh lime juice
  • ¼ oz simple syrup
  • Lime wedges or circles for garnish


Shake all ingredients with ice and strain into a lowball or martini glass. Garnish with lime circles or wedges.

Harvey Wallbanger

The Harvey Wallbanger (what a name) was invented by LA mixologist Duke Antone in the 50s. It’s named for the effect it has on the person drinking it, so maybe keep this one away from your more gregarious friends and relatives.


  • 1 oz vodka
  • 4 oz orange juice
  • ½ oz Gailiano
  • Orange circles or wedges and maraschino cherry for garnish



Pour vodka and orange juice into a Collins glass over ice cubes and stir. Float the Gailiano on top. Garnish with orange circles or wedges and maraschino cherry and serve.

White Russian
The White Russian first appeared in 1949 as a Black Russian, then became a White Russian when a bartender decided to add cream. Why not kick back with this decadent cocktail during your annual holiday movie marathon?


  • 1 1/2 oz vodka
  • 3/4 oz coffee liqueur
  • 3/4 oz cream



Pour vodka and coffee liqueur over ice cubes in an old-fashioned glass. Stir the mixture. Fill with light cream and serve.

Sloe Gin Fizz

The fizz is associated with New Orleans, where it originated. This kind of cocktail became popular nationally between 1900 and 1940. The sloe gin fizz in particular is a favorite reference in country music, and is commonly served out of a pitcher. Keep a batch in the fridge for guests who just need to take the edge off.


  • 2 ounces sloe gin
  • 1/2 ounce lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon superfine sugar
  • club soda
  • 1 egg white
  • Slice of orange or cherry, for garnish



Shake well with ice in a chilled cocktail shaker. Strain into a small, chilled Collins glass. Use a soda siphon (to create foam) or just splash the club soda or seltzer in so it can foam. Garnish with a slice of orange and a cherry, and serve.

Pink Lady
The pink lady became popular during prohibition. Because the quality of gin during this era was often questionable, bartenders added sweet ingredients to mask the flavor. After prohibition, the pink lady became a popular drink among women and became known as the quintessential “girly” drink.


  • 1 1/2 oz gin
  • 3/4 oz applejack
  • 1/4 oz lemon juice
  • 1-2 dashes grenadine
  • 1 egg white
  • Maraschino cherry and lime circle for garnish



Pour the ingredients into a cocktail shaker over ice. Shake vigorously until the outside of the shaker has frosted. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass to serve. Garnish with the cherry and lime circle.

This is another drink that originated in the Big Easy, at a bar called Tujague’s. It became widely popular in the South during the 1950s and 60s as an after dinner drink.


  • 3/4 oz cream
  • 3/4 oz creme de cacao, white
  • 3/4 oz green creme de menthe



Pour the ingredients into a cocktail shaker with ice cubes. Shake well. Strain into a chilled cocktail glass and serve.

Mocktails for the Kids

It’s no fun being the only one in a room without a drink. Let the kids join in with these classic mocktails.

Shirley Temple
This non-alcoholic beverage was invented by a bartender at Chasen’s in Beverly Hills to hide actress Shirley Temple’s growing drinking problem from the public. From those dubious origins it has become a standard mocktail to offer kids on special occasions.


  • 2 slices lime
  • 2 maraschino cherries
  • Ice
  • 1 tablespoon grenadine syrup
  • 8 oz ginger ale



Muddle two slices of fresh lime and one maraschino cherry in a glass. Add ice, grenadine syrup, and ginger ale. Garnish with a second maraschino cherry.

Roy Rogers

The Roy Rogers was invented to serve to the actor Roy Rogers, known on television for his mad cowboying skills. Made with cola, it’s sure to be hit with the little dudes at your New Year’s Eve shindig.


  • Ice
  • 8 oz cola
  • ½ oz grenadine
  • 2 maraschino cherries



Fill a 12 ounce highball glass with ice and add the cola and grenadine. Stir gently with a cocktail straw or spoon to combine. Garnish with the maraschino cherries and serve.

There we have it! Now, you’re ready to bartend your own NYE party!

What cocktail do you think is due for a comeback?

Photo Credit: Heck Yeah Cocktails, Washington Magazine, Make Baby Smile, Chow

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  • susan murphy

    What a great list of drinks! We will make shirley T for Dreama and maybe a Wallbanger for the grown ups! Cheers! xx

  • Casey Hoefler

    love the list of cocktailsI! Will definitely be mixing up some drinks for new years!

  • Tedi Toca

    Many my parents & their friend’s talked about. I say bring back Brandy Alexanders, Singapor Slings & Blue Hawaiians! All mid-late 70’s things when I was first “legal”! Wonderful recipes & memories.

  • Stacie Grissom

    Pinning these now. I love old-fashioned cocktails! 😀

    How to take great pictures < -- my blog :)

  • Jeanne Tutt

    ok so I have one that is nicknamed “The Screaming O”

    1 oz Vanilla Vodka

    1 oz Baileys

    1 oz Kahlua

    2 of those and I’m good for the night :)

  • Mia

    Ah White Russians. I drank those in college, they are delicious. Such a nice smooth and easy drink.

    French 75s are definitely back in the mix at many places, they are so good, but proceed with caution, these are some classy bad boys. They do however leave you feeling quite good. I first tried one at brunch, so try mixing up your normal mimosa with a French 75, you won’t regret it. I personally dislike gin, but you don’t even notice it in this.

  • Angelina Stahl

    Egg Whites?! I’ve never heard of them being used in a drink before..They still sound great, but Im scared to try them! What is everyones experience?

  • Kassi Buck

    Thanks for sharing! I have a picture of my grandparents celebrating the New Year in 1959 or 60 with family, and my Grandmother, Angela, has a Pink Lady in her hand. My great uncle, who is in the picture, said all the ladies loved that drink. I am definitely making a batch.

  • lisa

    We returned from Ohau and Maui and I can’t go past the Mai Tai.I love it. However some of these drinks sound delicious. My 7 year old son loves a drink called a spider. It is a can of raspberry lemonade with 2 scoops of Vanilla icecream. The ice cream must go to the bottom of the tall ice cold glass then it will fizz. Great on a hot day. Lisa smiley-cool.gif

  • Ray DeForest

    The SideCar… THE drink in NYC right now!

  • Janice Sauter

    I love this drink after a day at the beach. Not sure of it;s origins, but my sister called it a “Norma”:

    1 1/2 ounces Pear Vodka

    Canada Dry Ginder Ale

    Lime wedge (Squirt the lime juice from the wedge into the drink, then submerge the wedge!)

    Ice cubes

    Serve it in a tall glass over ice.

  • janet

    I must have missed this post first time around…so happy I stumbled upon it now..i love a good tom collins and when I scrolled down…I came upon Pink Lady and immediately memories of my Mom, who passed away 7 years ago, came flooding back. Then, next was Grasshopper, another one of Mom’s drinks…she only had a cocktail if we went out for dinner for a special occasion! Thanks, Tori, for this post. Big Love.