4 Class Alternatives to your Basic Friend the Gin and Tonic

In recent history, the Gin and Tonic has somehow made its way back into the realm of ‘acceptable’ at cocktail bars and parties. I’m here to clarify—the Gin and Tonic is the best worst drink at the bar. Why do I say this? Because it’s reliable, cheap, but is still, at the end of the day, a basic well drink.  It’s the only drink that you can condense into two letters, yell at a bartender over a chaotic club, and they’ll be like, ‘gotcha.’ It has its purposes.

I know some people who try to spice things up by adding cucumber or strawberries to the mix, but honestly, they need to settle down. My boss has a single gin that he designates as ‘his’ gin for ‘his’ gin-tonics, and there’s nothing worse. (kidding)

Learning some tricks for your ordering game is imperative for clambering up that social ladder, because 1. The bartender may not know it, and then you have something to yammer about while they google how to make one. 2. People stare at you in awe. 3. The only genuine reason: there’s nothing satisfying about having that bedrock drink for every night you go out, especially when it’s a G & T.

So, here are four alternate gin cocktails, barring any occasion that comes up.


Gin Rickey

Out of the four, the Gin Rickey is the mysterious one. The one that rings a bell somewhere far off, but no, your friends have never tried it. It’s best reserved for that hipster pub that prides itself on its cocktails. They may serve truffle mac and cheese and have an actual fireplace. With a tart taste from muddled lime, and a refreshing finish, the Gin Rickey is just a nuance away from your old pal the G & T.


1 1/2 ounces of Gin 1 lime

Club soda Simple syrup to taste

With a highball glass of ice, begin by adding Gin. Juice the lime, add and drop in the peels. Top off with Club Soda. Add simple syrup and stir to taste.



The Gimlet is the regal one, reserved for upscale cocktail houses where you probably won’t see me. It’s exotic, great for catching up with friends that are visiting town, and emphasizing how much you’ve changed since moving to the big city. Served in a true cocktail glass, this emerald of a drink leaves no mystery to why it was Betty Draper’s go-to. The taste is strong, and tart, best had in small sips.


2 ounces gin 1/2 ounce lime juice

1 lime wedge


Tom Collins

The eldest of the four, the Tom Collins is considered one of the original cocktails. This means that unless you have an experienced vet behind the bar, it’ll turn out nearly unpalatable.  So save this for a bar that you trust. It’s also suited for your friend who uses the verb ‘imbibe.’ You can pontificate your pretensions to each other. The drink can vary from sweet, to sour, to strong depending on how your bartender makes it.


2 ounces gin 3 ounces club soda

1 ounce lemon juice 1 teaspoon sugar

1 maraschino cherry 1 orange wedge

In an iced shaker, add gin, lemon juice, and sugar. Shake, and strain into a collins glass 3/4 full of ice cubes. Top of with club soda and stir. Drop the cherry and garnish with the orange.


French 75

Gin and champagne. This drink was created for after-works when you’ve accomplished something big, and find it superfluous to go home before reconvening to celebrate. Try that coveted Midtown bar, and splurge. Your french friend will deny it’s of their descent, that is until they’ve tried it. This drink is the smoothest of the four, and is by far the most festive.


1 1/2 ounces of Gin 2 teaspoons of sugar

1 1/2 ounces of lemon juice 4 ounces of chilled champagne

Orange slice for garnish

Shake Gin, sugar and lemon juice and pour into a Collins glass.

Top off the glass with champagne, stir and garnish.

Con Amor,

Alexander Cohiba

The Ideal Drink—Tropical Cocktails at the Tiki Bikini in Nassau

Just as there is an ideal drink for each particular environment, it is the environment, in and for itself, which produces the ideal drink,” Mr. Cohiba

A portly, red man sits in a yellow inter tube, buoyed in the middle of impeccable blue waters. It’s a sight of stark contrasts, jarring to the eye from shore.


Junkanoo, or as the locals call it ‘the long wharf’ is known for it’s sweeping sun-filled strip, like a South beach of the Bahamas. Palms sway overhead as shade, and the crash of the surf is only feet away. Cruise ships port nearby and drop swathes of restless vacationers each day. Shops  open, and the Bahamas is in business as the locals try to pawn wooden carvings, vibrant patterned dresses and massages on tourists. 

Plopped in the center of it all is a seaside shack known as the Tiki bikini hut. Their special of the day reads ‘4 shots and 4 beers for 10 Bahamian dollars,’ in lazy handwriting. The currency exchange is 1 to 1—it’s an amazing deal regardless.

But we’re on vacation, and it’s the down season, so why get hammered drunk when you can relax with a tropical libation.


After a long trek to the island’s only McDonalds, where I purchased and mixed a McCafe and a Bounty bar Mcflurry, I returned to the beach to see my two comrades snoozing with faces full of sand.  My girlfriend has a habit of saying, ‘I fell asleep,’ every time she wakes up, still half in a dream state–I can’t help but smile at this. We shook our friend Brandon, and told him it was time for some drinks.

We walked up to a small bar area in the center, and almost immediately, the manager zoomed around the corner to greet us. He was a gregarious guy, and seemed to know everyone that sat on his barstools. Pointing at the two bartenders, he said ‘they’ll help you out,’ with a pat and a wink.

When the tourists hurry back to their cruiser,  the shipmates swing by for a quick drink. The locals then call it a day, start pack up their shops and huddle around the hut waiting for service. 

All together we tried these particularly sweet drinks.

img_0631I ordered a Sky Juice, a gin-coconut blend, my girlfriend ordered an orange drink called a Bahama Mama, and Brandon had the classic Pina Colada.

The Sky Juice was the strongest of the three, an interesting drink consisting of gin, coconut water, condensed milk, sugar and cinnamon. The two others are rum based drink–you know the Caribbean people and their rum. The Bahama Mama consists of light and dark rums, pineapple and orange juices shaken together and poured over ice. A Caribbean Pina Colada is pineapple juice, coconut water (as opposed to cream),  and light rum blended into frappe and garnished.

After a couple of these I looked around, and noticed everyone was feeling the island spirits.  The drinks weren’t amazing, but the vibe was just right and enough to carry you through  a velvet sunset. At this place and time, these drinks receive the highest honor of the ideal drink.

Con Amor,

Alexander Cohiba

Peru’s Celebrated Cocktail, the Pisco Sour

Lima, Peru–Pisco Sour, Pisco Shower! Sang the two French women. We were happy to be going out, finally. After long flights, an uncomfortable first night at our hostel and a long wait outside of a Mcdonald’s in a modest, Peruvian chill, our couch-surfing host arrived.

Lima, Peru

Miguel Angel was a man of many languages, but few words. When he finally arrived we tossed our backpacks into the trunk, and hopped in his little Fiat, which swung around the roads of Lima, past the endless coastline at night with illuminated crosses off in the distance. Miguel struck us as awkward. A man of home improvement, he was planning on constructing his own bar, dj booth, and living room.

“You sure you’ve done the measurements?” I thought as I scanned the little room, which could barely hold the four of us.



My hands ran across the smooth tiled floor. A clang struck our ears as he presented a bottle of Pisco, and four shooters. “What was this? Pisco?”

The national drink of Peru, a Liqueur distilled of Grapes, similar to a French Cognac, but colorless like Vodka.

“Salud!” The four of us took the shooters. Disgusted, the girls made faces, but I could handle it, I can handle it, I swear I can handle it, though I admit, Pisco burns. We exchanged stories about our pasts in three different languages, and I couldn’t help but feel a mixture of nausea and, what was it..displacement.

At the first bar, honestly more like someone’s kitchen than a bar, we tried the drink. “Pisco Sour!” The cocktail that puts Peru on the map, as mythical as the Andean condor, or ruins found in the overgrowth. The drink sat on a dark wooden table, fresh as a mojito, but dense from whipped egg white. Bitters like sprinkles on frosting. Like snow on a mountaintop.

After we consumed the drinks, we headed to a Salsa bar.

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Arequipa, Peru

Feet of fury, I believe that’s what they say when someone can’t stop dancing, and Miguel wouldn’t sit down. The man pulled at one of the women, and it was all fun and games–at first. Truthfully, I wanted another Pisco Sour, so my attention was diverted. I walked to the bar. Tried to order in Spanish. Turned and looked with a smile. No smiles in return. Far too aggressively, our host was spinning and turning one of the women, the other was trying to interject. Sorry, I said to the bartender, and walked back towards them. One of the pitfalls of drinking. I inserted some American improvisational dance moves, (an advantage) and put on a mask like I was having a good time, but to be frank, none of us were.

Mr. Angel slept in a solitude on his mattress upon the floor, while the faucet dripped, and the three of us just sat there, pondering what to do next. Later in the trip I purchased and read Garcia Marquez’s book, which somehow left me feeling sympathetic for this man.


This experience is to take nothing away from the drink, it’s exotic, desirable, succulent. With its lime accents added to the strong liqueur, and the fizz restraining the drinker from being to hasty, this drink deserves a crown: The ideal drink.

-1 ounce of Lime juice

-.5 ounce of Simple Syrup

-2 ounces of Pisco

-1 egg white

Vigorously shaken, completely emulsified, and strained into a chilled glass. And there we have it–The Pisco Sour.

Con Amor,

Mr. Cohiba