The Takeout's Fantasy Food Draft: Best Classic Cocktail

Welcome, dear readers, to The Takeout Draft, our recurring feature that combines our love of food, fantasy sports, and arguing on Slack.

Every week, we will select a topic of conversation from the food and drink world. Takeout writers will then field a team via the snake draft format. After five rounds, The Takeout commenteriat will vote on who they believe was victorious in that week's draft. At the end of the year, the staffer with the most weekly victories will select a charity of his/her choice that The Takeout will make a donation towards.

The winner of last week's Takeout Draft: Best Non-Chocolate Candy, as voted by readers: Kate Bernot!

This week, the topic is classic cocktails, meaning we'll exclude the 15-ingredient drinks that only your friend knows how to assemble. Joining us this week are Takeout contributor John Carruthers and fancy shopgirl Allison Shoemaker. The randomizer has selected a draft order:

  1. John Carruthers
  2. Allison Shoemaker
  3. Kate Bernot

Let's get shakin'.

John Carruthers: I will do the very predictable thing and take the definition of Weekend In a Glass: the Margarita

But I do want to stress that there are some really fantastic ones out there, and that it's not all 32 ounces of slushee that your server tries to upsell Patron into

Allison Shoemaker: My local makes an incredible one that includes an inside out lime half that's filled with an orange liqueur

It is heaven

Kate Bernot: I would write in defense of overly boozy slushee margaritas, so no need to sell me on this

JC: I had a very nice charred pepper one just the other day. I also seem to remember a prickly pear margarita served to me in an actual glass at a Diamondbacks game last time I was in AZ, but that seems insane so maybe I'm mushing different memories together.

AS: Kate didn't I write a defense of shitty margaritas last year?

KB: You did a guide to passable margaritas, much classier.

JC: I'm glad we're all on Team Shitty Margarita

This was my clear #1 because it encompasses both the Sugarbooze and the Fancy Cocktail so well

AS: I've got to follow my heart and go with the Old-Fashioned

JC: Excellent

AS: Classy AF, as they say

KB: True to your whiskey-loving heart

AS: And if I didn't pick a whiskey cocktail I'd be shamed outta this place

JC: Plus there's that optional Brandy variant for our friends up north

AS: Very different but still good

A good Old-Fashioned is next level

A great showcase for great whiskey

JC: Ordering an Old-Fashioned is always a really good gauge of how good a bar is

AS: Totally

Plus you get to feel very Mad Men whilst drinking one

JC: I always try to meaningfully brood

People ask if I have gasKB: The two are not mutually exclusive, John.

For my first-round pick, I'm going with another classic that gets an unfair rap: the daiquiri

AS: Oooh good choice

KB: Made with good rum and fresh lime juice, it is so refreshing and bright.

JC: Plus, banana dolphin

KB: Again, the strawberry slushee version ruins it for a lot of people, but a three-ingredient daiquiri is a thing of minimalist beauty.

For my next pick, I am thrilled and humbled to be able to call upon: Bloody Mary

Whereas a daiquiri is minimalist, I like my Bloody Marys maximalist. Use aquavit. Use crazy-ass pickle brine. Use tons of horseradish. Garnish with four shrimp!

JC: I love to make them and do not drink them myself. I can't do the tomato juice

As a pure mess of different elements, it's very appealing

AS: A bourbon Bloody Mary is so good

KB: I love the acidic tomato juice. Makes me feel like it's partially healthy.

Ooooh, bourbon Bloody Mary, you say. See, endless possibilities.

JC: My favorite variation was at Baconfest one year—cheddar powder rim

KB: My god

JC: Yeah, Cheddar Oppenheimer finally did it

AS: This is tough. A lot of what are IMHO the best classic cocktails are not hot weather friendly, so I'm tempted to just pick things I'm craving. And one of those things is a pretty basic marvel: the Moscow Mule

Bright, crisp, refreshing, lots of great variants

(As is often the case, I love subbing bourbon and making a Kentucky Mule)

KB: Moscow Mules are the cocktail-hour drink at our upcoming wedding, respect.

AS: Fresh juice makes a HUGE difference but an average MM is still a thing of beauty

KB: Pour ginger beer directly down my throat any day.

AS: Noted

JC: My mom got all the kids Moscow Mule copper mugs two Christmases ago

KB: So far no one has chosen a truly unconscionable drink, well done us.

JC: So I shouldn't pick Laudanum? that's kind of a cocktail

KB: That's a different draft entirely.

JC: Looking forward to it

AS: Old Ways To Dull The Pain And/Or Die

(wow, got dark fast)

JC: For my actual pick, the drink that wasn't Busch Light that got me through college: Gin martini

I used to hoard my meager college newspaper paychecks to get a bottle of Bombay. Not Sapphire, just the white label

AS: I was wondering when one of us would get to the martini

JC: I'm guessing I thought it would make me seem interesting, when in fact I was a very paint by numbers grubby guy at a big state school

KB: I like that every cocktail is basically a method acting moment for you.

JC: but hey, turns out I really love good gin

AS: That is 100 percent why I started drinking them too – but good gin is so good

JC: That Bombay was the gateway to a lot of new things for me. I even had a single martini glass I'd clean and keep on a shelf in my room like a real dork

Crisp, bracing, botanical-forward. It feels like you're an adult drinking like an adult

AS: At another time we should nerd out about gins, John

JC: heck yeah

AS: My current faves are Barr Hill and the Field Gin made by Journeyman for the Field Museum

JC: Journeyman is one of my favorite distillery tours around here. I went not long after they opened and they gave us samples of EVERYTHING and the tour guide called my wife out for making a face at the gin (she isn't a gin drinker but gave it a shot)

turned out our tour guide was the owner's mom

AS: Perfect

JC: It all ended well

KB: I still have a bottle of Journeyman Black Hearts on my bar cart from my Midwest days

JC: It got my dad drinking local spirits, which, if you'd asked me ten years ago...


JC: For my next pick, there's a beverage here, man: WHITE RUSSIAN


JC: I realize it's not the most versatile thing


JC: But sometimes it's just the thing. And I very much enjoy it and the weird little variations (Colorado Bulldog, etc) that come with itAS:

(Kidding, it's a fine drink)

JC: Me:

KB: Do you actually make these at home with frequency?

JC: I do. Vodka's always around. Kahlua tends to last me a long while. There's always something dairy about.

KB: Robe's always on

AS: Rug really ties the room together

JC: and the Creedence tapes

KB: I want to party at Casa Carruthers

AS: I want to get back to gin with a slightly less well-known, but dearly beloved (around these parts anyway) cocktail: The Aviation

Also on topic, as this is a drink I make frequently at home. It's so pretty and so tasty

JC: Creme de Violette? You are operating at a far more advanced level

AS: Once you have a bottle, you have it for a long time

KB: Oh, Aviations are the definition of classy in my book.

JC: I'm impressed


JC: Color-matching glassware. C L A S S Y

AS: They're really not hard and once you've got the bottles handy you're set for awhile. Have a lemon and some good good cherries on hand and you're good to go

JC: My White Russians get poured into a Brian Urlacher souvenir cup

KB: It looks like you're going to drink that and then solve an Agatha Christie-type mystery.

JC: That's why the butler is getting all squirrely

AS: Precisely

KB: For my next pick, summer summer summertime: Paloma

AS: DAMMIT I shoulda known

JC: Excellent pick

AS: I thought I might be able to sneak that one in at the end

KB: Tart, incredibly fresh, the drink of hot weather.

AS: A great afternoon cocktail

Speaking of, I'm not going to pick this, but it's worth sharing one of my favorite cocktail recipes (not one of my favorite cocktails—just the recipe):

Death in the Afternoon: "Pour one jigger absinthe into a Champagne glass. Add iced Champagne until it attains the proper opalescent milkiness. Drink three to five of these slowly."

KB: Gotta respect a cocktail that might make you hallucinate or die.

AS: Thanks, Hemingway

JC: Weird to see that written not sarcastically at an MFA student

AS: Ha

Well, we can thank him for that recipe, at least. Instructions as short story.

JC: For Sale, Absinthe Shoes, Never Worn

KB: And we're back in gin territory with my next pick (we know The Takeout's spirit of choice now): French 75

I love a cocktail with bubbles, is my explanation here.

It's for when I want gin....but also bubbles, which is all the times.

JC: Gin & Bubbles: America's most elegant cocktail magazine

AS: It's such an elegant freakin' drink

JC: The name is solid too, sounds like an international incident

"It was a simpler time, and we were happy, before the French 75 changed everything"

AS: Okay, I am going to stick with adding-things-to-bubbles territory and go with something that's both basic and that dreaded word, Basic: the Mimosa

KB: wonderful choice

JC: Legend says the true mimosa has no bottom

AS: In a perfect world I would claim the beermosa alongside it but no one woman should have that much power

Apologies to the delightful Bloody Mary, but this is humanity's finest excuse for day-drinking

KB: There we can disagree, but we are lucky to live in a world with both.

AS: Hear hear

JC: Mimosas and giant omelettes have killed so many Sunday afternoons

JC: For my first of two picks, first a beloved regional cocktail that also tells you how good a bar is: Pimm's Cup

I have had many a delicious Pimm's Cup on trips to the sweaty gym sock confines of New Orleans

AS: What a fun choice

KB: Oooo that is a wild one and I like it.

JC: A little citrus, a little spice, not too much of either. Honestly, I feel like this one gets a semi-bad rap because people will visit New Orleans and go to a place that's "famous" for it and they're just making it in five-gallon buckets in the back but when made with care, it's a really delicious one

KB: TL;DR: Put Pimm's on your bar cart, folks.

JC: Last one. Maybe I'm giving away votes here for going too simple

AS: Giving away votes is a Takeout draft tradition

JC: but a Cuba Libre rum with just a splash of Coke and fresh lime, the stepping stone into really getting into rum beyond a rail drink boot-and-rally way

A tasty drink that doesn't require too much effort and made with a light enough hand, you're not wasting mid-shelf rum

It's just summer to me. And as a Midwesterner, I hold dear to any and all summer things

KB: So, a "better" rum and Coke?

JC: Basically. Like I said, just throwing votes back into the ocean, but the heart wants what it wants

AS: A good drink is a good drink

Okay, speaking of throwing votes away: I would like to briefly stand on a soapbox before I make my last pick to stump for the Penicillin, a real delight and something I very much want to but shall not pick. Please try this! It is good!

But like John said, the heart wants what it wants, so I'm going with the Hot Toddy


KB: Ooooooo yes, you were our hot toddy correspondent this winter!

AS: One of my favorite cocktails AND my favorite Old Wives' Tales in one

it's a 'tail-'tale

JC: The Hot Toddy is the best part of being sick and disgusting

AS: Exactly

JC: Wish I had a hacking cough right now

KB: Congested and snotty? Whip up a hot toddy™!

AS: But even in perfect health, nothing better on a cold day when you've just walked in, covered in damp fabric

JC: Hahaha

AS: Lots of variations but the plain, simple recipe is perfect

JC: Kate's Mad Menning all our picks

"It's not a Mai Tai... it's a carousel" (tears up)

AS: Hahaha A+

KB: Alright, I'm bringing it home here with: Pisco Sour

Maybe the texture I love most next to bubbly cocktails is egg white cocktails, and pisco sour is my favorite of them all. Pisco is fruity, earthy, can be a little funky-weird, it's got it all. The egg white smoothes everything out like a fuzzy blanket.

JC: Note to self: invent Fuzzy Blanket cocktail

AS: That was on my short list, too. I love a flip

JC: This was an excellent draft. I would drink all of these in one night

wake up on a riverbank

KB: Not advisable

Who won? Please vote now!