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You probably already have the ingredients for these 9 classic drinks
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You probably already have the ingredients for these 9 classic drinks

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I don't know about you, but I could use a good, stiff drink right about now.

I've got those stuck-at-home nonessential-worker-gettin'-furloughed blues.

Maybe I could use two good, stiff drinks.

I don't mean those fancy cocktails that have been carefully crafted — no, curated — by mixologists using elderflower liqueur and artisanal bitters distilled from the berries from a single clump of bushes hidden near the shores of Lake Uniamési.

I mean ordinary cocktails for ordinary folks: simple, clean and classic. The kind of cocktail where you don't have to go out to the store to buy some exotic ingredient you will only use once because, as it turns out, you don't particularly like it.

I'm looking at you, hibiscus syrup.

That said, for the sake of this article I went to the store to buy the bitter liqueur Campari, which I did not have. But at least it's not elderflower liqueur. I wouldn't know an elderflower if I fell face-first into a field of them.

I first used the Campari to make a Negroni, a cocktail that, despite its recent spate of hipness, dates back at least to 1919 when Count Camillo Negroni legendarily asked bartender Forsco Scarselli to make a stronger version of his favorite cocktail, an Americano.

The bartender kept the sweet vermouth and Campari of the Americana but replaced the soda water with gin. Voila, the Negroni was born.

The classic Negroni is equal parts gin, vermouth and Campari, but I used a variation that goes a little heavier on the gin — never a bad thing — and lighter on the bitter Campari. That way, the Campari stays more in the background where it belongs and does not drown out the gin or vermouth.

Campari also plays an important part in the next drink I made, a Boulevardier, named for an American ex-patriot magazine in Paris in the late 1920s.

A Boulevardier is made from bourbon, Campari and sweet vermouth. Don't tell anyone, but it is basically a Negroni with bourbon instead of gin.

But what a difference the bourbon makes. The Boulevardier is a rounder, fuller-tasting drink; it is a Manhattan with a bitter edge to tamp down the sweetness. Perhaps it is just my personal preference of bourbon over gin, but I believe the time is right for the Boulevardier to have its time in the sun — again.

And if you are spending time in the sun yourself, you'll want to drink something cooling and refreshing. You'll want to drink a Tom Collins.

This happy concoction, created back in 1876, is the perfect hot-weather cocktail. It mixes gin with lemon juice and simple syrup and makes it delightfully quaffable with club soda. Think of it as a sparkling lemonade with a kick.

You'll probably be most satisfied with a basic unadorned gin such as a London dry gin. The more herbal essences that are packed into the gin, the more flavors there will be to compete with the drink's blissful simplicity.

For a lot of people, hot weather means margaritas. For many of them, margaritas mean a bottled, pre-made mix. Don't be one of those people.

Margaritas — which date back to 1938 — are easy to make, and the ones you mix at home are guaranteed to be better than anything that comes out of a bottle. You only need three ingredients: tequila, lime juice and simple syrup.

You can actually buy simple syrup, if you have an inexplicable aversion to money; one store sells a 12.7-ounce bottle of it for $12. Or you could just make it yourself, and this is less hard than it sounds, by boiling together some water and sugar.  And it will practically keep forever.

Another summertime drink is the daiquiri, the ultimate sweet-and-sour hot-weather drink that was invented in 1902. On the sour side, you have lime juice. On the sweet side, you have rum, simple syrup and superfine sugar.

Superfine sugar, which you can pick up online for eight bucks a pound, is even easier to make than simple syrup. Just put some sugar in a blender and blitz it for 10 seconds.

In the right proportions, or even the wrong ones, a daiquiri is delightful.

One of my personal favorite cocktails is a sidecar, which dates back to sometime around 1920. I have featured a recipe for an American version before in these pages, so this time I thought I would make a French version.

Same ingredients. Different proportions. Entirely different taste.

The American version is big and brassy, as you'd expect. The French one is quiet and reserved — and probably looks down on its American cousin while secretly envying it.

Both are excellent. Which you prefer is a matter of your own taste.

Next, I made a Black Russian. It didn't take long; it only has two ingredients, vodka and Kahlúa. But put together, they have the most marvelous, velvety texture.

The Black Russian was invented in 1949, created in Luxembourg in honor of the teetotaling American ambassador to that country. It combined two of the most popular spirits of the day — the White Russian, known primarily to fans of the movie "The Big Lebowski," came later, with the addition of heavy cream.

The Bronx Cocktail, invented in 1905, was hugely popular in the 1930s before slipping out of the public's consciousness. But maybe it is time for it to slip back in. It's so smooth and perfectly balanced.

The Bronx Cocktail mixes gin with both sweet vermouth and dry vermouth, plus orange juice and a dash of Angostura bitters. It is a well-crafted, thoughtful combination, not too fruity but not too sophisticated either. It's a Goldilocks kind of drink — just right.

My last cocktail is another one of my favorites, Satan's Whiskers, which dates back to Prohibition. It is like a Bronx Cocktail, but with more of an orange flavor and less of a kick.

Once again, you begin with gin, orange juice and sweet and dry vermouth. But then you add just a splash of Grand Marnier, which is an orange liqueur, and a dash of orange bitters if you have it. I didn't, so I used chocolate bitters, which gave it an intriguing undertone that acted as a counterpoint to the orange flavors.

But any bitters will do. Maybe you could try them all and see which type you like best.

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