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beyond the g&t
other classic cocktails |
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Gin and tonics are a nice safe drink. Everyone knows exactly what goes in them it's in the name, duh and should you order one at a bar, there's pretty much no chance that you'll be greeted with a blank stare by the bartender. And unlike with, say, a martini, there's none of that confusion that comes from having to specify exactly how you like it. Wet? Dry? Dirty? Who knows? On top of which, let's face it, the classic martini as it's frequently enjoyed, dry as a bone, is essentially a big walloping punch of straight gin. Which doesn't exactly make for the easiest drinking. Looking to expand beyond the same old, same old? Try ordering up one of these four tasty classic cocktails next time you hit the bars...

what it involves | gin, rose's lime juice
how to order it | The classic gimlet is made with gin. Sadly, many bartenders are unaware of this, so it's sometimes necessary to specify. While you're at it, it never hurts to let them know exactly what kind of gin you want. I like Bombay Sapphire; Tanqueray and Beefeater are also dandy picks. You'll also need to specify whether you want your cocktail up (shaken with ice and strained) or on the rocks (served over ice.) I prefer up: the ice doesn't dilute the drink as much, and as an added plus, it's generally served in a purty stemmed cocktail glass rather than a boring old-fashioned.
when to order it | Anywhere. A little sweet, a little tart, this pretty pale green libation is sophisticated, but way more down-to-earth than the martini. Plus, it's a much easier drink for the cocktail-imbibing novice to handle the Rose's lime juice cuts down on that intense gin bite.
try this at home | You can make a perfectly quaffable drink with fresh lime juice in place of Rose's lime juice, but it won't be a gimlet: get yourself a bottle of Rose's and keep it in the fridge after it's been opened. Mixing up gimlets at home is a good way to determine exactly what proportion of Rose's lime juice to gin you actually prefer (some people like as much as half-and-half; I generally mix 3 parts gin to 1 part Rose's lime juice). This an easy drink to mix, and hard to mess up too badly, so the gimlet is a good drink to have in your party repertoire.
variations on a theme | I actually like my gimlets best with a generous squeeze of fresh lime not strictly traditional, but nice and tart. You can also substitute the gin with vodka or tequila.

what it involves | tequila, lime juice, triple sec/Cointreau, simple syrup (optional)
how to order it | There are two things you'll have to specify when ordering a margarita: up/on the rocks/frozen and with or without salt. The salted rim is traditional, but go with whatever suits your tastebuds.
when to order it | Summery, refreshing and thoroughly un-pretentious, the margarita is appropriate at pretty much any venue where an acceptable alternative might be a good, cold beer. This, basically, is anywhere you could just as easily order a margarita at a trendy bar as at a sports bar, and look at home either way. Frozen margaritas are best reserved for lounging poolside or enjoying a casual patio meal at a Mexican restaurant; margaritas served up or on the rocks are much more chic. I go with up when I know the tequila's good; when I'm dealing with cheap margaritas made with low-end tequila, I have it on the rocks.

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