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Posts Tagged: Manhattan

Legendary cocktails at El Camion and beyond

This month, our legendary senior bartender, Dick, and his daughter Bea, were featured in The Cocktail Lovers magazine. In the 1980s, Dick changed the face of the London bar scene and pioneered the UK cocktail industry as we know it today. As the inventor of the Espresso Martini, the Bramble, the Russian Spring Punch, the Wibble and the Treacle, Dick also created a cocktail so good we named our basement bar after it: The Pink Chihuahua. Here, in an interview with The Cocktail Lovers back in 2013, he describes how it came about:

“I wanted to make a drink that was pink called the Pink Chihuahua. It was going to be with mescal but the flavour was too strong, so I changed to tequila. I worked on it for about two weeks, when I got it I danced around the corridor. I knew it was a good drink, it pleased me.”


This got us thinking about other cocktails that have made it into the history books and some of the stories behind them are pretty interesting…

The Cosmopolitan

As is the story with many cocktails, this Cosmopolitan has a hazy history. The origins behind the Cosmo as we know it circle around three bartending legends, Cheryl Cook, Toby Cecchini and Dale DeGroff, although recipes for drinks known by the same name have been found dating back to the early 1900s. Cheryl Cook, however, lays claim to creating the Cosmopolitan in the 1980s by adapting a Kamikaze and adding Absolut Citron and a splash of cranberry juice. Toby Cecchini, though, says that he had come across the cocktail and had transformed it with Absolut Citron to impress the waitresses. But it was Dale DeGroff who made the cocktail famous while he worked at Manhattan’s Rainbow Rooms. He added his signature orange flame and it is his recipe that is followed today.


The Manhattan

Apparently the whole thing about it being invented for Winston Churchill’s mum in 1874 at New York City’s Manhattan Club is all lies! She was actually giving birth to Winston at the time that she supposedly requested the drink to be made. Instead, a more probable account of its invention was in a bar on Broadway in the 1860s, where it was invented by a man named Black. Yet – there is still another story of it being created on a yachting trip in New York by a Col. Joe Walker, who decided to mix together the only refreshments left in the icebox – Italian vermouth and whiskey. He later experimented with it in his bar in New Orleans and named it after his friends on Manhattan Island.


The Porn Star Martini

The ultimate modern classic, the Porn Star Martini only came to life in 2002 and is now famous around the world. Douglas Ankrah, of The Townhouse in Knightsbridge, first called this drink the Maverick Martini, named after a dodgy club in Cape Town. The name by which we know it today is apparently down to the usage of passionfruit in the cocktail, which you are meant to eat first, before drinking the Champagne and lastly enjoying the fruity martini. Ankrah went on to found the great LAB bar, which is now often associated with this deliciously lavish cocktail.


Who knows what might be created next time you’re sitting at the bar in The Pink Chihuahua with our talented bar team… Maybe you will witness history being made!