Bottoms up! Whatever the occasion, casual or formal, a classic cocktail is always in style. Here, some recipes for your long weekend entertaining.

Some drinks exude sophistication. An old-fashioned (muddling cubed sugar, whiskey, bitters) in the hands of Mad Men's leading guy, Don Draper, fits like a well-tailored suit. James Bond's "shaken-not-stirred" martini is as suave as his pickup lines. There's constant drinking in Rick's Café in the movie Casablanca, but the most swish cocktail was the French 75s. Each particular cocktail is embued with its own sense of style based on its provenance and history. That style is then bestowed on the one who orders it.

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Fashion seems to be part of the DNA of many Italians, and their choice of drinks is no exception. Aperol, invented in 1919 in Padua, Veneto, is an eye-catching orange in colour with a unique bittersweet taste from an infusion of herbs and roots, including rhubarb and quinine. Only 11 per cent alcohol, its fresh versatility was and still is perfect for aperitif-style cocktails for hours of socializing without getting drunk.

The spritz (wine with soda water) is believed to have originated during the Austrian occupation of Italy in the 19th century. In the ensuing years, many different versions of the Veneto Spritz became popular, particularly the Aperol and soda mix. It was such a hit that by 1995 it was sold in single-serve, ready-to-drink bottles. Socializing over an Aperol Spritz (prosecco, Aperol and soda water ) in the piazzas was part of the rhythm of everyday life in northern Italy.

More recently, in the past 10 years, the Aperol Spritz, known as Spritz Veneziano in the International Bartenders Association's official cocktail recipe list, has become the chicest drink to order pre-meal. The Aperol bottle's back label highlights the famous 3-2-1 recipe of this cocktail (see recipe, far left).

Then there's the glamour of a celebrity connection. Willie Nelson put his name on Old Whiskey River bourbon, Dan Aykroyd owns a piece of the action in Patrón Tequila, Rock and Roll Hall of Famer Sammy Hagar struck it rich with Cabo Wabo Tequila and Sammy's Beach Bar Rum, but none are as big a heart throb as George Clooney. Clooney partnered with his amigos Rande Gerber (husband to supermodel Cindy Crawford) and Michael Meldman (developer of luxury residential and resort properties) to produce Casamigos Tequila.

 

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