Popular cocktails from the 70sThe 70’s brings back memories of wood paneled station wagons, mood rings, platform shoes, discos, the Beatles, Star Wars, the Fonz and being a football fan, who could forget quarter back Joe Namath appearing in a Beautymist hosiery commercial wearing panty hose.  Since this is a liquor site however, I would be remiss if I excluded the cocktails of the 70’s. 

Cocktails from the 70’s have played as big a part in memory as bellbottom pants and the leisure suit.  Visions of Harvey Wallbangers complete with the tall bottle of Galliano hitting the back bar and surf boards come to mind.  Or how about freshly grated nutmeg atop a frothy Brandy Alexander?  But really, I would be negligent to leave out the Tequila Sunrise, Pina Colada, Grasshopper, Pink Lady, Stinger, Manhattan, Rob Roy, Pink Squirrel, Martini, Bacardi Cocktail, Old Fashioned, Merry Widow, Rusty Nail, Daiquiri, Paradise Cocktail, Bronx, and Side Car.  Then again there were also Cuba Libres, Salty Dogs and Grey Hounds, Screwdrivers, Gin and Tonics, and Tom Collins.  Let’s not forget the Slow Comfortable Screw that had a most descriptive and unique twist in the 1991 Michael J. Fox movie, Doc Hollywood.  While these cocktails were around sometimes decades before the 70’s they were all quite popular in the 70’s. 

Why do they come to mind at this moment?  Rhonda from California wrote in:

“Hey there!  You are a wealth of information!  I stumbled across your articles and I have a feeling I will be spending free moments…reading more.”

Rhonda goes on to tell me she is hosting a dinner party for her martini and margarita loving gourmet cooking club and wants to set the mood for a 70’s Cocktail Party theme.  She has already thought out a clever scheme of vintage cocktail glasses.  These have been collected for some time through yard and estate sales and thrift stores.  Ingenious!  People have been doing this mismatched place setting thing for ages with tea settings.  Why not try this with martini glasses?!  Stemware is gorgeous.  There is no rule that says it all has to match.  What an excellent way to keep everyone’s glasses distinctive without the need for stem markers and tags. 

When planning a party the quick thought is always party punch.  Punch leaves a hostess free to mingle with guests.  However, Rhonda’s idea leans toward the presentational.  She wants cocktails; trendy yet a throw back to the 70’s.  This does not bring to mind party punch.  My suggestion for Rhonda is the same as I do at my own parties.  I plan four or five cocktails and print them on a menu for my guest to browse.  Before the party I prepare the cocktail ingredients without ice in pitchers and refrigerate.  I also prepare all garnishes ahead of time.  That way when my guests arrive and make their cocktail choices, I am not measuring from three or four individual bottles and ingredients.  I make one pour from a pitcher and then shake and strain.  Their cocktail is perfectly measured and complete within seconds rather than being a time consuming chore.  As the hostess, I am free to enjoy my time with guests and still make fabulous cocktails.  I do not have to choose between the two.  I never have a punch bowl with dipper filled with a fruity red sugary punch.  My guests are treated to genuine glassware with unique garnishes and shaken cocktails.  With a little leg work and preparation your next cocktail party will be a memorable event rather than just another party that seems like everyone else’s. 

We cannot forget the recipes which is really what Rhonda wanted most.  A great cocktail stands tall or falls short with the recipe and the quality of ingredients you choose.  My article 21 Must Try Drinks covers recipes for the Bacardi Cocktail, Harvey Wallbanger, Manhattan, Martini, Old Fashioned, Rob Roy and Salty Dog.

What about the rest?  The list is vast… 

Merry Widow

Dash of Absinthe

2 ounces Gin

1/2 ounce Dry Vermouth

Dash of Angostura Bitters

Dash of Benedictine

Flamed Lemon Peel Garnish

Season a chilled martini glass with the Absinthe. Toss once. Set aside. Combine remaining ingredients in cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake gently. Strain into seasoned martini glass. Garnish with flamed lemon peel.

70s Cocktails: Brandy Alexander

Alexander (Brandy)

1 ounce Gin or Brandy

1 ounce Dark Crème de Cacao

2 ounces Heavy Cream

Grated Nutmeg Garnish

Combine first three ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake well. Strain into a martini glass. Garnish with nutmeg.

Mark your calender. January 31 is Brandy Alexander Day.

70s Cocktails: Grasshopper


1 ounce Green Crème de Menthe

1 ounce White Crème de Cacao

2 ounces Heavy Cream

Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake well. Strain into a martini glass.

Greyhound two ingredient drink - vodka, grapefruit juice with optional grapefruit slice and/or lime twist garnish.


1-1/2 ounces Vodka

4 ounces Grapefruit Juice

Pour ingredients together in a highball glass filled with ice. 

70s Cocktails: Tequila Sunrise

Tequila Sunrise

1-1/2 ounces Blanco Tequila

4 – 5 ounces Fresh Orange Juice


Fill a highball glass with ice. Pour in tequila and then orange juice, leaving room to top off with a float (approximately 1/2 ounce) of grenadine.


2 ounces Cognac or Brandy

1 ounce White Crème de Menthe

Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake well. Strain into an old-fashioned glass filled with crushed ice.

70s Cocktails: Sidecar


1 ounce Brandy

1 ounce Premium Orange Liqueur

3/4 ounce Fresh Lemon Juice

Flamed Orange Peel for Garnish

Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake well.  Strain into an old-fashioned glass filled with crushed ice. Garnish with the flamed orange peel. * If served ‘up’ – strain into a small cocktail glass with a sugared rim.

The Rusty Nail and Godfather Scotch Cocktails are two ingredient drinks. One uses Drambuie, the other uses Amaretto. Measurements vary depending upon bartender, website or cocktail book.

Rusty Nail

2 ounces Scotch

3/4 ounce Drambuie

Fill an old-fashioned glass with ice.  Pour in scotch.  Float Drambuie on top.

Bronx Classic Cocktail - made with gin, dry vermouth, sweet vermouth and orange juice

Bronx Cocktail

1-1/2 ounces Gin

1/4 ounce Sweet Vermouth

1/4 ounce Dry Vermouth

1-1/2 ounce Fresh Orange Juice

Orange Peel for Garnish

Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake well. Strain into a martini glass. Garnish with the orange peel. 

70s Cocktails: Tom Collins

Tom Collins

1-1/2 ounces Gin

3/4 ounce Fresh Lemon Juice

1 ounce Simple Syrup

4 ounces Club Soda

Orange slice for Garnish

Cherry for Garnish

Shake the first three ingredients with ice and strain into a Collins glass. Add the soda and stir. Garnish with the orange slice and cherry.

70s Cocktails: Pink Lady

Pink Lady

1-1/2 ounces Gin

1/4 ounce Grenadine

3/4 ounce Simple Syrup

1 ounce Heavy Cream

Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake well. Strain into a martini glass. 

Pink Squirrel

3/4 ounce Crème de Noyaux

3/4 ounce White Crème de Cacao

1-1/2 ounce Heavy Cream

Combine all ingredients in a cocktail shaker filled with ice. Shake well. Strain into a martini glass. 

70s Cocktails: Pina Colada

Pina Colada

1-1/2 ounce Light Rum

1 ounce Myers’s Rum

2 ounces Coco Lopez

4 ounces Pineapple Juice

Dash of Angostura Bitters

1 cup Crushed Ice

Garnish: Pineapple Wedge & Maraschino Cherry

Place all ingredients except garnish into a blender. Blend until frothy and smooth. Pour into a specialty glass such as a poco-grande and garnish with the pineapple and cherry. To make this into a Chi-Chi substitute the Rum for Vodka.

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All content ©2015 Cheri Loughlin, The Intoxicologist. All Rights Reserved. Chat with Cheri @Intoxicologist on Twitter and facebook.com/Intoxicologist

Cheri Loughlin is the Omaha writer and photographer behind www.intoxicologist.net and author of Cocktails with a Tryst: An Affair with Mixology and Seduction. You can email Cheri with comments and questions at str8upcocktails@gmail.com.

70’s Cocktail Memories

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