“Ooh, that's better!” 10 cocktails to help re-set the world in 2021
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By Dan Bignold
Dec 29th, 2020
Cocktails have, and always will be, a fantastic engine for optimism.

Understatement alert: 2020 has been pretty crappy, and we can’t wait for 2021. I’m sure you feel the same too. If nothing else, at least the world can unite around that.

So, to help you and your guests dream about what lies ahead – whatever you do, don’t look back – we’ve put together a list of 10 forward-looking drink ideas that will help chase away 2020’s gloom, and set the tone for a happier new year.

Cocktails can always be relied upon to generate optimism, after all. They evolved around the end of the 18th century from medicinal bitters – tonics – and the habit of quaffing a quick remedial preparation to help mind and soul turn the corner on whatever malaise had hit you that day (or morning). 

Nevermind that the so-called Corpse Revivers and Pick-Me-Ups of the early 20th century were likely both the cure and the cause, within the twinkling magic of cocktail hour, levity and a brighter future abound.

Here, therefore, are your 10 optimistic, positively vibed or 2021-appropriate drinks to give guests something to smile about on your menus:

  1. Broadway Smile: Theatre, dance and stage shows of any kind are high on the too-long list of things we can’t wait to get back. Frankly, this layered all-liqueur concoction from The Savoy Cocktail Book is the worst drink on this list (!), but who cares? The sugary effects will surely generate its own showtime.
  2. European Union: We couldn’t find a drink called the Euro, to highlight the rescheduled Euro 2020 football finals. But we could find this by bartender Alexander Day, listed on the excellent recipe blog/resource Cocktail Virgin. Note: This post won’t touch on Brexit. But, if Brexit does make you feel good, you’ll probably prefer the Union Jack cocktail – which sounds awful (just saying). This link discusses that drink and its variations.
  3. Gloom Raiser: From Harry McElhone’s 1927 collection Barflies & Cocktails, this recipe was created by bartender “Robert, of the Embassy”, and is a wet gin martini with a few dashes of extra fun. (There’s also the sweeter, rum-based Gloom Chaser, which McElhone lists just above.)
  4. IBF Pick-Me-Up: This uplifting preparation is also from Barflies & Cocktails, and kicks away the blues with a kind of a flu-strength champagne cocktail – fernet and curacao replacing the bitters and sugar cube, and the normal brandy ratio turbo-charged. (The "IBF" stands for International Bar Flies, a spoofy – but actually real – affiliation of worldwide bars and bartenders founded by McElhone that we wish we’d been around to join.) 
  5. Olympic Cocktail: The postponed Tokyo Olympics will be a massive boost to global morale (ahem, as long as they can actually happen). The world’s sporting pinnacle is also taking place in one of the globe’s cocktail hotspots. This sunny-coloured (or gold?) entry is therefore a shoe-in for 2021 glory.
  6. New Life: More hope and optimistic appeal from The Savoy. This one’s going to be hard to re-create, though, since it calls for “Hercules”, a long-departed brand of yerba-maté infused aperitif wine. You could attempt a house-made version, starting with a Dubonnet or Cocchi Barolo Chinato base…
  7. Smiler Cocktail: Another smiley name, and another Savoy number, just this time with a better drink attached. A sort of Perfect Martinez.
  8. Spring Feeling: Q2 2021 is when the long-awaited vaccine is slated to get mass roll-out, which is spring for half the planet. This green Chartreuse-heavy gin sour could be just the accompaniment. (There’s this Jeffrey Morgenthaler recipe called Autumn Leaves for the other side of the world, which might not sound as optimistic, but does look delicious.)
  9. The Democrat: We spotted this on Difford’s Guide, a 2007 creation from Jon Santer at bar Bourbon & Branch in the USA. How about one to toast Mr Biden's arrival at the White House?
  10. The Vaccine: Surprisingly among the revivers and pick-me-ups we couldn’t find a classic cocktail with this name, but we did find this 2020 creation from reddit user milodudeoo, a kind of purple Tommy’s Lagerita. 2021 deserves more fun like this so let’s make it famous (if for no other reason than it sounds much better than this equal parts curacao-tequila oddity, The Vaccination).

See, feeling better already! We’d love to hear more though – look us up on Facebook or Linkedin and leave your suggestions in the comments. Goodbye 2020, almost. Wishing everyone a much happier new year!

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