Back to the Future: 9 Retro Cocktails Making a Comeback

retro cocktails

What’s old is new again when it comes to drink menus. This week marked National Harvey Wallbanger Day (who knew?), an annual celebration of the classic cocktail poured with vodka, Galliano, and orange juice debuted in the ‘50s. And, so, in that spirit, we’ve got nine retro cocktails to celebrate our spirited past — some have stayed true to their origins, while others have been reimagined with some millennial-friendly ingredients. Here’s to you, Harvey!

Last Word, Morton’s The Steakhouse, Chicago, Illinois
The bar menu here features the classics from the 1800s to the 1900s, including sips like the boozy gin-based prohibition cocktail the Last Word. It’s created with Death’s Door gin that is stirred with Green Chartreuse, Luxardo Maraschino, and fresh lime juice. Let us have the last word: one is enough. Make a reservation at Morton’s The Steakhouse.

retro cocktails

Do-It-Yourself Daiquiri, Railstop Restaurant & Bar, Brighton, Massachusetts
A riff on the 1900’s standard, this beverage is made with butterfly pea extract, Privateer Silver Rum, and pure cane simple syrup. It’s garnished with lavender, lime, and a poem: “Thank you for choosing the Do-It-Yourself Daquiri, if you do not like it, that is blasphemy. We encourage you to take part in making this drink, squeeze the limes, it’s easier than you think, swirl it around with the lavender and watch it turn pink.” Make a reservation at Railstop Restaurant & Bar.

retro cocktails

Gaelic Grasshopper, Seamstress, New York, New York
Hop to it and order the timeless, typically green grasshopper cocktail that’s been given an Irish update at this Upper East Side restaurant. The drink is made with Kerrygold Irish Cream Liqueur, Teeling Small Batch Irish Whiskey, Brancamenta, and Crème de Cacao. A handful of mint leaves and shaved chocolate garnish the sweet — but not green — cocktail. Make a reservation at Seamstress.

retro cocktails

Painkiller, Harvest Table, St. Helena, California
Lead bartender Joel Pfeifle pours this proper cocktail with light and dark rums, housemade crème de coconut, pineapple juice, orange juice, lime, and bitters plus a garnish topping of grated nutmeg. Sure to cure whatever ails you tonight — but no promises for tomorrow morning. Make a reservation at Harvest Table.

retro cocktails

Bobby Burns Cocktail, Bambara, Cambridge, Massachusetts
It’s believed that this retro cocktail debuted at Manhattan’s The Old Waldorf-Astoria Bar in the 1930s. The brown spirits drink here takes a page from Harry Craddock’s The Savoy Cocktail Boo, and is created with Monkey Shoulder Scotch, Carpano Antica Formula Vermouth, and Benedictine. Make a reservation at Bambara.

retro cocktails

Añejo Old Fashioned, Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak House, New York, New York
A spin on the uber-popular libation, the featured ingredients in this aperitif are simply Amaro Montenegro and orange bitters. The cocktail is garnished with an orange peel and a cinnamon stick for a pop of color and a kick of spice. Bonus: The Old Fashioned is offered at all locations. Make a reservation at Del Frisco’s Double Eagle Steak House.

retro cocktails

Chapter VII Volume, D’Amico’s The Continental, American Provisions and Craft Bar, Naples, Florida
The “cocktail lab” here (pictured at top) focuses on Prohibition-era tipples — with a little creative license. A standout is the photogenic Chapter VII Volume, an updated Vesper martini made with Bloom Gin, lavender-citrus infused Cocchi Americano Bianco, Banyan Reserve Vodka, and orange bitters. Make a reservation at D’Amico’s The Continental, American Provisions and Craft Bar.

retro cocktails

Milk Punch, Handcraft Kitchen & Cocktails, New York New York
Milk punch, which dates back to the seventeenth century, takes two weeks to prepare in beverage curator Alex Mouzakitis’s hands. He uses a half-gallon of milk, Mezcal, rum, absinthe, Velvet Falernum, and two pineapples juiced with the zest of limes, lemons, grapefruits, and oranges. Add star anise, black pepper, cloves, allspice, and green tea and you’ve got a knockout punch. Make a reservation at Handcraft Kitchen & Cocktails.

retro cocktails

The Sidecar, Bohanan’s Prime Steaks & Seafood, San Antonio, Texas
Leather club chairs and throwback Old World exuberance set the scene for this smooth sour classic cocktail, one of many retro beverages served here. It’s created with Cognac, orange liqueur, and lemon juice, and it’s served in a coupe that’s garnished with a sugar rim and lemon zest. Make a reservation at Bohanan’s Prime Steaks & Seafood.

retro cocktails

What are your favorite retro cocktails? Tell us here or over on FacebookG+InstagramPinterest, or Twitter. And, remember to snap + share your #dishpics with us on Instagram for a chance to win in our weekly giveaway.

Laurie Bain Wilson is a Boston-based journalist, author, and essayist who writes often about travel, food, and baseball. Find her on Twitter @laurieheather.