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Retro Cocktails: A List of Some of the Booziest Blasts From the Past

They may not be trending or going viral, but these throwback cocktails are anything but going out of style. 

Everything goes in and out of style. Just look at those old photos of you in your leg warmers, bell-bottoms, and teased hair so high it barely fits in the photo! However, some of the best things from a bygone era find their way back to the mainstream.

Some things should go out of fashion, like Grandma's gelatin dessert and handlebar mustaches. But, what about vintage booze brands like Amaretto and Crème de Cacao? 

We think they deserve a second chance. So, get ready to rummage through the back of your bar and start exploring some old favorites again!

What defines a "retro drink"?

Over the years, smart bartenders worldwide have developed hundreds of classic cocktails, classy cocktails, potent cocktails, and even strange cocktails. Few have stood the test of time to become retro cocktails.

No matter how far you turn back time, "retro" is still relevant! Whether a new movie makes a Rusty Nail look sophisticated, or a celebrity is seen sipping a Singapore Sling, what once was lost has now been found, served, and sipped!

Velvet smoking jacket, cigar, wall-to-wall carpeting

The 1970s is probably one of the best eras to examine many quirky, cool, and casual cocktails. It was the era of disco clubs and all-night boogie-fests. It's no wonder the disco divas had so many interesting old-school drinks to choose from!

Thankfully, you can still order these gems today!

#1. The Brandy Alexander

This decadent concoction looks like a chocolate milkshake but warms you up with cognac, Crème de Cacao, cream, and a topping of nutmeg. The Brandy Alexander is one of those iconic 70s cocktails that's like dessert in a glass. 

Although there were versions of the Alexander with other spirits instead of brandy, cognac made this drink the star it is. The Brandy Alexander still has a loyal fan base that keeps on truckin' it, even in today's bars. 

#2. The Harvey Wallbanger

No, this drink is not about wall paneling options for people who want to test their favorite motorcycle helmet! Instead, The Harvey Wallbanger is a fruity, sweet, herbal-infused mixture that refreshes the senses.

Originally created in the 1950s, this drink didn't become popular until the 1970s. Nobody really knows where this cocktail comes from, but there's a story about a party in the 1960s when a host-only had vodka, orange juice, and Galliano. A guest called Harvey tried it out. 

Harvey banged his head against the wall a few times because the concoction was so potent! There's probably no truth to this story, but once the Galliano company found out about it, their marketing director George Bednar found a way to make it popular in the 1960s. 

A surfer-themed campaign made famous the tagline "Harvey Wallbanger is the name, and I can be made!".

This solidified this golden liquid gem in party-goers' minds, and it became a bar staple all through the 1970s. During the disco era, this drink was pretty much everywhere. Disco might have died with the 1970s, but the drink is still an option for those who love to boogie!

#3. Piña Colada

We would be splitting the hairs of a coconut to figure out if the Piña Colada became famous in the 1970s or the 1980s. Let's just say the hair was high, and the shorts were short, and beach lovers were falling all over for this totally terrific tropical taste sensation.

Diving into one of these tropical tiki cocktails will transport you to the fun and frolic of an era long gone. A mix of white rum, coconut cream, and zesty pineapple, all you'll need is a boom-box and a cocktail umbrella to enjoy this one over and over again!

#4. Pink Squirrel

The 1970s took many liberties with far-out color combinations. The Pink Squirrel became part of a kaleidoscope of quirkiness in the 1940s but made full spectrum acceptance in the 1970s. It wasn't uncommon to see plaid pants, neon bar stools, and a pink drink all in one!

Another one of the classic dessert cocktails, this bright pink concoction is a technicolor milkshake-like creation containing almond liqueur, Crème de Cacao, cream, and cochineal (which creates the rich pink color and is made of insects (!?) 

#5. Grasshopper

We're going to stick with colorful retro cocktails for a bit and explore another fun and pigmented popular beverage from the 1970s. Depending on where you order this drink, it can be pale green to a bright, neon shocker.

Possibly created in the 1920s by New Orleans' Tulague bar owner Philibert Guichet Jr., The Grasshopper is made with both white and green Crème de Menthe and white Crème de Cacao. It was so popular; it still held power as one of the most popular 90s drinks.

#6. Tequila Sunrise

You can't get more retro unless you broke out your roller skates and did the Hustle! The Tequila Sunrise is synonymous with a "fun day at the beach"! A bright and colorful layered drink with a sweet and fruity flavor - right down to the umbrella and cherry garnish.

Combining grenadine, tequila, Triple Sec, and orange juice, the classic Tequila Sunrise is one of those retro cocktails from another era that is still going strong today. Finished with a cherry garnish and stylish umbrella, you'll hang around the beach a little longer to savor each sip.

#7. Tom Collins

In New York City in 1874, there was a hoax doing the rounds. Friends would tell their 'victims' that a man called Tom Collins was slandering them at a bar nearby. They'd head over to the bar and ask about Tom Collins, and the barkeep would give them this cocktail. 

History aside, The Tom Collins peaked in popularity in the 1950s when it was sipped on porches on warm summer days. As the 1970s rolled around, the drink held its ground as a favorite in clubs. Gin, lemon, simple syrup, and Seltzer are the key ingredients in keeping this retro delight alive and kicking!

#8. The Pink Lady

Stories link this pink "girly" cocktail to the prohibition era. The reason for its creation at that time was to mask the unpleasant taste of bad or poor quality gin with its fruity or tart flavors. It later gained a following among high-society ladies through the 1930s to the 1950s.

With a delicate blend of gin, grenadine, lemon juice, Applejack, egg, and a splash of color with a cherry garnish, The Pink Lady hit the 1970s with a passion. A soft profile that will match any shag carpeting, The Pink Lady is still around today. We can't say the same for shag carpeting!

These cocktails are vinyl in drink form

Whether you're digging through the closet to find those paisley printed bell bottoms, or you're trying to find a way to work with that poncho, search the back of the liquor cabinet for some old-fashioned favorites. Whip up some clear ice spheres with an ice ball maker, and you’re set!

Return to a time when the sound was wax, the bottoms were belled, and the drinks matched the wallpaper. If you can't get these oldie-but-goodies at your local bar, try to find the vintage cocktail recipes and make those vintage cocktails at home! Can you dig it?

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